ISTANBUL (AP) – Turkey is marking the fourth anniversary of the July 15 failed coup attempt against the government, with ceremonies and events remembering its victims.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, accompanied by civilian â€œveteransâ€ who fought against the coup, laid a wreath at a memorial in the presidential complex in Ankara and prayed. Erdogan was kicking off a series of events to commemorate the crushing of the coup, including one at parliament. Attendees were wearing masks as the event took place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 15, 2016, factions within the military used tanks, warplanes and helicopters to try to overthrow Erdoganâ€™s government. A total of 251 people were killed and around 2,200 others were wounded as the coup plotters fired on people or bombed parliament and other government buildings. Around 35 alleged coup plotters were also killed.
Turkey has blamed U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally, for the coup attempt. Gulen rejects the accusation.
The government declared a state of emergency after the coup attempt to crackdown on Gulenâ€™s network, which is considered to be a terror group.
Under emergency powers that were in place for two years, tens of thousands of people were arrested for alleged links to the coup and to Gulen and the trials continue. More than 130,000 people were fired from public service through emergency decrees, among them teachers and police officers.
Critics say the arrests and dismissals went too far, targeting all opposition to the government under Turkeyâ€™s wide terror laws.