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Turkey observes 6th anniversary of the abortive coup

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July 15 marks the 6th anniversary of the abortive coup against Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, which left 251 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured. July 15 is now a public holiday and observed as "Democracy and National Unity Day." Turkey has blamed US-based Fethullah Gulen for masterminding the coup attempt. The government has declared in May 2016 Gulen's movement a terrorist organization and calls it "Fethullahist Terrorist Organization" (FETO).

Erdogan strengthened his political position since the abortive coup. In April 2017 a referendum was held to change the parliamentary system to abolish the office of Prime Minister and introduced a presidential system. In June 2018, Erdogan was re-elected president, Turkey's first president under the new system.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with "Fethullahist Terrorist Organization" (FETO).

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gulen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown. Many have tried to exit Turkey illegally since the government has revoked thousands of passports.

In November 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Turkey had acted unlawfully by arresting more than 400 judges and prosecutors after a failed 2016 coup against President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan.

The ruling was the latest by the Strasbourg-based ECtHR against Turkey, a member of the Council of Europe of which the court is a part since 1950. It said the detentions had violated the European Convention on Human Rights, which the court enforces, "on account of the unlawfulness of the initial pre-trial detention of the applicants."

In April 2021, sacked top-ranking officers in the Turkish army were jailed for life in a mass trial of 497 defendants accused of the failed July 2016 coup. Among those convicted were two men who stormed the public broadcaster to have the coup declared on live TV.

A total of 289 trials have taken place since, according to Anadolu news agency. The trial coming to an end on April 7, 2021 dates back to October 2017 and was described as the final case in the capital, Ankara. Most of those accused were members of Turkey's presidential guard regiment.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in July last year that Turkey has dismissed 23,364 military personnel in the fight against Gulen's network.

Erdogan seeks new constitution

President Erdogan, in February 2021 said that it may be time for Turkey to adopt a new constitution. Erdogan, 66, has governed Turkey as prime minister or president since 2002, cementing his control over the nation of 83 million people and surviving a failed coup.

As prime minister, he pushed through changes to the constitution in 2017 that created an executive presidency and abolished the premiership. He then won the 2018 presidential election, the first of two potential five-year terms. Turkey is scheduled to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in 2023, meaning that his rule would have to end by 2028 if he were re-elected. Erdogan has never lost an election.

Turkey's current constitution was adopted in 1982 after a military coup. "It is clear that the source of Turkey's problems is that constitutions have always been written by putschists," Erdogan said in nationally televised remarks. "It may be time for Turkey to reopen the debate about a new constitution," he said. "If we reach a common understanding with our (ruling coalition) partners, we may take action for a new constitution in the future." Erdogan's AK Party is allied in parliament with Milliyetà i Hareket Partisi (MHP) or Nationalist Action Party.

Extradition of Gulen

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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