ANKARA – In a rousing speech before a sea of flag-waving crowd here, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the perpetrators of the failed July 15, 2016 coup would never be able to bring the country to its knees and harm the freedom of its people.
The Turkish leader made the vow as he joined his fellow countrymen Saturday and early Sunday in marking one year since the coup attempt with special commemorative events here and in Istanbul.
Erdogan issued a stark warning to the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation (Feto) and its United States-based leader Fethullah Gulen, accused of being behind the coup attempt.
“You may think that you have escaped but you have no where to hide despite having made your way to Pennsylvania,” he said to loud cheer from the crowd gathered in the grounds of the Turkish parliament which was bombarded during the failed coup.
The power grab by Gulen disciples in the armed forces using military hardware was thwarted when ordinary Turks mounted a fierce resistance against the coup plotters who put in motion their treacherous plans
mainly here and in Istanbul.
“You won’t succeed, you won’t divide us or bring our flag down and destroy our state,” the president said of the coup plotters in the speech peppered with shouts of approval from the spirited crowd.
Erdogan himself was the target of an assassination attempt during the putsch that left some 250 people dead and over 2,000 injured.
The president had a special message to mothers who lost their son or daughter in the attempted coup.
“Please wipe away your tears. Don’t cry for those who won’t come back. But we will bring the traitors before you,” he said.
Erdogan also paid tribute to others who had died due to terror attacks against Turkey.
“We’ll never forget those we’ve lost. We’re all relatives of our martyrs and those injured,” he said.
The president vowed that the government would come down hard on those who tried to commission similar acts of terror.
The Ankara commemoration ceremony started with the national anthem and a heart-wrenching recitation of the Quran during which a pensive silence fell over the crowd.
Erdogan had earlier taken part in a similar ceremony in Istanbul held at the city’s iconic July 15 Martyrs Bridge in honour of those killed during the defeated coup.
The coup plotters blocked the bridge over the Bosphorus Strait during the attempted power grab, prompting a face-to-face confrontation with ordinary Turks bent on fighting for a democracy under siege.
Monuments in honour of the fallen during the coup attempt have also been built near the July 15 Martyrs Bridge in Istanbul and in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace complex here. – BERNAMA