Turkey has dismissed almost 7,400 civil servants over alleged links to terror groups in a government decree, the latest in a wave of dismissals since authorities quashed last summer’s coup attempt. Teachers, academics, military and police officers were sacked late on Friday, including former Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu, who was jailed last August for alleged links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey blames Mr Gulen for masterminding the July 15 coup attempt, but he denies the allegations.
The country imposed a state of emergency following the coup, allowing the government to rule by decrees. The latest wave of dismissals brings the number of sacked civil servants to more than 110,000 people. The order reinstated 313 people to their jobs.
The government decree also stripped nearly 350 soldiers of their ranks and former national football team players Hakan Sukur and Arif Erdem of their medals. Meanwhile, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has attended a special session in parliament to mark one year since authorities quashed the coup.
Recounting the events of July 15 2016, Ismail Kahraman, speaker of the Turkish parliament, said it was the Turkish people who had defeated the coup. During the uprising, F-16 fighter jets piloted by plotters bombed Turkey’s parliament 11 times, forcing members of parliament who convened for an emergency session to seek shelter in the basement. Some 250 people were killed in the failed coup attempt, and more than 2,000 were injured.
Thousands of people expected to turn out for “national unity marches” in Istanbul and Ankara over the weekend, and Mr Erdogan will unveil the “Martyrs’ Memorial” on an iconic Istanbul bridge to remember those who died opposing the coup. “It has been exactly one year since Turkey’s darkest and longest night was transformed into a bright day, since an enemy occupation turned into the people’s legend,” Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim said Saturday in a special parliamentary session attended by Mr Erdogan.
Turkish soldiers attempted to overthrow the government using tanks, warplanes and helicopters on July 15 last year.
The coup plotters declared their seizure of power on the state broadcaster, bombed the country’s parliament and other key locations, and raided an Aegean resort where Mr Erdogan had been holidaying. But the president had already left and the coup attempt was put down by civilians and security forces.
The Bosporus Bridge, now called the July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge, was the scene of clashes between civilians and soldiers in tanks.
Mr Yildirim thanked the thousands of people who heeded a call by the president to flood the streets to resist the coup.
“We are able to come together again here today because of our 250 heroic martyrs, 2,193 heroic veterans and the great Turkish people. Your country is grateful to you,” he said.
July 15 has been declared a national holiday.
Public transportation in Istanbul and Ankara are free over the weekend, and bus destination signs displayed messages of congratulations.