Turkey to Mark Failed Coup Anniversary with 3,000 Gatherings Despite Virus

Supporters cheer as Turkish president speaks during a third anniversary commemoration rally at the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul on July 15, 2019. - Turkey commemorates, on July 15, 2019 the third anniversary of a coup attempt which was followed by a series of purges in the public sector and …
OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images

Turkey will mark the fourth anniversary of a 2016 failed military coup on July 15 with 3,000 mass events in which people will gather in large numbers despite the ongoing Chinese coronavirus pandemic, Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News reported on Friday.

Turkish military leaders attempted to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that day, issuing a statement that they were abolishing his Islamist rule in an attempt to return to the secular tradition of the Turkish Republic. Erdogan, using Facetime to confirm that he was still alive and in charge, subdued the insurrection, later blaming Pennsylvania cleric Fethullah Gülen for the incident. Gülen denies any involvement and Erdogan has failed to convince Washington to extradite Gülen, offering no evidence of his role.

Turkish government ministries, universities, and public institutions will organize 2,238 commemorative events across the country on Wednesday, while an additional 752 events are planned to take place abroad.

Turkey’s July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge, formerly the Bosphorus Bridge, will host a commemorative light show involving 200 drones. Spanning the Bosphorus Strait, the July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge connects Istanbul’s Asian and European sides and was renamed in 2016 to honor loyalists who died resisting the coup, including several people who died in fighting on the bridge.

At the site of the now-defunct Kuleli Military High School, located near the Bosphorus Strait, images of Erdogan supporters fighting with soldiers on that day will be projected onto the walls of the building, according to the report. A “mobile digital July 15 exhibition platform” will tour several Turkish provinces — including Konya, Antalya, Bursa, Samsun, Kayseri, Çanakkale, and Diyarbakır — throughout the anniversary week. State-run TV networks will broadcast “Symphony of the Epic” by Turkish composer Fahir Atakoğlu in honor of the anniversary as well.

Erdoğan will participate in an array of activities to mark the occasion. He will “lay a wreath at the July 15 Martyrs’ Monument, attend a commemoration in parliament, meet the victims and survivors of the failed coup attempt, and address the nation on TV channels,” Hürriyet reported.

Turkey will also send propaganda videos claiming Gülen’s alleged “terrorist group” organized the incident to global broadcasters and organize “virtual webinars” about Gülen.

The 2016 failed military coup attempted to oust President Erdoğan from power. Erdoğan loyalist forces, including government officials and civilians, successfully put down the coup, though 251 people died in the fighting and an additional 2,500 were wounded, according to Hürriyet.

This year’s commemorative events will likely draw large numbers of participants and observers, despite ongoing bans on large gatherings worldwide to prevent the spread of the Chinese coronavirus. Last month, Turkey eased its coronavirus lockdown, allowing most public spaces to reopen while encouraging people to maintain social distancing and wear sanitary masks. The Turkish government claims to have the country’s coronavirus outbreak under control and “has boasted of its success in handling the outbreak and preventing Turkey from becoming a virus hot spot,” Al Jazeera reports.

At press time on Friday, Turkey reported a total of 210,965 cases and 5,323 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus.

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