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Turkish Ruling Party, Opposition Party Hold Joint Rally in Show of Unity

  • VOA News

Demonstrators at Taksim Square wave flags bearing the face of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, revered as founder of the modern Turkish Republic, July 24, 2016. Many are calling for preservation of the secular state established by Ataturk nearly a century ago. (L. Ramirez/VOA)

Demonstrators at Taksim Square wave flags bearing the face of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, revered as founder of the modern Turkish Republic, July 24, 2016. Many are calling for preservation of the secular state established by Ataturk nearly a century ago. (L. Ramirez/VOA)

Members of Turkey's ruling and main opposition parties are rallying together in support of democracy and to condemn the bloody coup attempt July 15.

The rally, held under tight supervision Sunday in Istanbul's iconic Taksim Square, was called for by Turkey's largest opposition group, the secular Republican People's Party. It was joined by other opposition parties and President Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic Justice and Conservative Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002.

Another public demonstration of unity came from the head of Turkey's air force, which released a rare statement emphasizing "absolute obedience" to the chief of the military General Staff, Hulusi Akar.

Some members of the air force were involved in the coup attempt, during which Akar was held hostage.

Erdogan, who escaped capture and possible death, has declared a state of emergency that enables him to sign laws without parliamentary approval in an attempt to identify supporters of the failed coup, during which at least 246 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured.

Supporters of various political parties gather in Istanbul's Taksim Square during a rally organized by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in Turkey, July 24, 2016.

Supporters of various political parties gather in Istanbul's Taksim Square during a rally organized by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in Turkey, July 24, 2016.

Turkish authorities have investigated, detained or suspended more than 60,000 civil servants, judges, police, soldiers and teachers in the past week on suspicion of association with the uprising.

Amnesty International said Sunday that it has "credible evidence" that some detainees in Turkey are being beaten, tortured, raped, and denied food, water and medical treatment. The human rights group also said people are being held in "unofficial detention centers," and are being denied access to lawyers and family members.

Amnesty said it has received information about the conditions from lawyers and doctors, as well as one person working at a detention center.

The organization is calling on the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture to make emergency visits to Turkey to monitor the conditions. Amnesty said that, as a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey is obligated to allow visits from the CPT, which Amnesty says is the only independent group with the authority to conduct arranged visits to all detention facilities in Turkey.

Thousands of people fill Istanbul's Taksim Square during an opposition rally July 24, 2016, condemning the failed coup attempt. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's supporters were also invited to join as a sign of unity. (L. Ramirez/VOA)

Thousands of people fill Istanbul's Taksim Square during an opposition rally July 24, 2016, condemning the failed coup attempt. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's supporters were also invited to join as a sign of unity. (L. Ramirez/VOA)

Some of Erdogan's critics claim he is using the failed coup to indiscriminately crackdown on dissent.

Erdogan has ordered the closure of thousands of charities, foundations and private schools with suspected ties to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has many supporters in Turkey. Erdogan has blamed Gulen and his supporters for planning the coup.

Gulen has denied any involvement.

Western countries have promised support for democracy in Turkey, but have expressed concern over the magnitude of dismissals from state institutions.

VOA's Luis Ramirez contributed to this report from Istanbul

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