Erdogan threatens to ‘chop off the heads’ of traitors in failed coup anniversary speech

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 July, 2017, 10:25am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 July, 2017, 10:55pm

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday threatened to “chop off the heads” of traitors, in a speech marking the first anniversary of the failed coup bid that aimed to oust him from power.

“First of all we will chop off the heads of those traitors,” Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul, prompting cries from the crowds that capital punishment should be restored in Turkey.

Reaffirming previous comments, he vowed to sign any bill passed by parliament to restore capital punishment in Turkey, a move that would effectively sever Ankara’s attempt to join the European Union.

“We are a state governed by rule of law. If it comes to me after parliament, I will sign it,” he said.

Erdogan also said the suspects being tried on suspicion of involvement in the failed coup should wear uniform clothing like the notorious orange jumpsuits used at US military prison at Guantánamo Bay.

“I spoke to the prime minister and ... when they appear in court, let’s make them appear in uniform suits like in Guantánamo,” Erdogan said.

A controversy erupted last week when one suspect was seen going into court with the word “hero” in large letters in English on their T-shirt.

Erdogan was speaking to hundreds of thousands of supporters gathered at the bridge over the Bosphorus that saw some of the fiercest fighting on the night of the July 15, 2016 attempted coup.

“We paid a price ... but there is no price for the independence and future we obtained in return for that sacrifice,” he said, referring to the deaths of 249 people at the hands of the plotters.

He lashed out at claims from the opposition that the government knew about the coup plan but let it play out to its own advantage in a so-called controlled putsch.

“This is a shame, this is an immorality,” Erdogan said. “This is a disrespect, an insult to our people,” he added.

For many in Turkey, the anniversary is not cause for celebration. Erdogan has used the attempted coup to justify a prolonged state of emergency that has seen tens of thousands arrested, more than 100,000 civil servants dismissed from their jobs, at least 150 journalists imprisoned and scores of independent newspapers, magazines and television and radio stations shut down.

Additional reporting by Tribune News Service