When you start claiming people are viruses that need to be purged, all democracy goes out the window. Turkish opposition to Erdogan are about to receive some brutal treatment, if not death.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to purge all state institutions of supporters of an Islamist cleric his government blames for Friday’s failed coup attempt.
Speaking at a funeral in Istanbul on Sunday, Erdogan broke down in tears as he vowed to cleanse the country of the ‘virus’ of Fethullah Gulen supporters.
He said Turkey, through the justice ministry and foreign ministry, would request the extradition of the cleric, who is based in the United States, and his backers. He has denied any involvement in the coup effort.
The mass funeral was held for civilians who died on Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, including İlhan Varank, the brother of Erdogan’s chief supervisor. He was a professor of computer science and was shot according to Turkish media.
Crowds chanted ‘Fethullah will come and pay’, ‘Allah is Great’ and ‘We want the death penalty’. Erdogan said that in democracies, ‘you cannot push the wish of the people to one side’ but also said ‘we are not after revenge’.
On Saturday, Erdogan made a brief public appearance amid a phalanx of heavily-armed bodyguards, he said: ‘They will pay a heavy price for this. This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.’
Life in Turkey is back to normal after a failed coup attempt, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Sunday afternoon, saying the central bank, capital markets board, banking system and stock exchange were all functional.
At least 265 people were killed in clashes between the armed forces and police. Scores of civilians were among the dead.
Rebel leader General Erdal Ozturk, who commands armed forces in Istanbul has been arrested and charged with treason. The state-run news agency Anadolu said the commander of the Second Army, which guards the borders with Iraq, Syria and Iran has also been detained.
Many soldiers who participated in the coup have been beaten up by Erdogan’s supporters.
Meanwhile, a Turkish government official reported that the commander of an air base used by U.S.-led coalition jets that conduct bombing runs against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria has been detained.
The official said Sunday that Gen. Bekir Ercan Van, ten other soldiers and one police officer from the Incirlik base are detained for their role in the botched Friday coup attempt.
The Turkish private DHA news agency showed footage of Van handcuffed and pushed into a van outside a courthouse.
The President accused the plotters of being part of a conspiracy led by his former ally Fethullah Gulen, who is based in Pennsylvania. The US-based preacher accused Erdogan of staging the coup himself to justify his purge.
In his address to his fanatical following, he revealed how he was almost assassinated while on holiday. He said: ‘They bombed places I had departed from right after I was gone. They probably thought we were still there.’
Military tanks were stopped by supporters from occupying Ataturk airport in Istanbul after civilians lay down in the road to prevent them passing.
Data on Flight Radar 24 showed Erdogan’s jet circling for more than 30 minutes south of Istanbul until it was safe for the aircraft to approach the airport.
After he emerged from the jet, he announced the coup was over before branding the rebel soldiers as ‘traitors’.
Turkish officials claimed some of the plotters were based in Incirlik air base in the south east of the country from where the US military is conducting bombing missions against ISIS in northern Syria.
Tens of thousands of supporters of the regime gathered in cities across Turkey with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim claiming those behind the coup ‘will receive every punishment they deserve’.
He and Erdogan have indicted laws banning the death penalty could be repealed so those involved in the coup could be executed.
Eight members of the coup fled to Greece on a stolen Blackhawk helicopter.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras said the eight men’s asylum applications would be dealt with ‘quickly.
Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research at The Washington Institute said Erdogan has been strengthened by the coup.
He said the president was now a ‘sort of mythical figure’.
Cagaptay said: ‘It will allow him (Erdogan) to crack down on liberty and freedom of association, assembly, expression and media in ways that we haven’t seen before and find strong public support within the country.’
Fadi Hakura, a Turkey expert at the Chatham House think tank in London, said the attempted coup appeared to have been ‘carried out by lower-ranking officers’.
‘Their main gripe seems to have been President Erdogan’s attempt to transform his office into a powerful and centralised executive presidency. In the short term, this failed coup plot will strengthen President Erdogan.’