Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan on Saturday celebrated the one year anniversary of the “failed coup” that aimed to oust him from power on Saturday in typical fashion, by threatening to “chop off the heads” of traitors. Addressing hundreds of thousands of supporters gathered at the bridge over the Bosphorus in Istanbul that saw some of the fiercest fighting on the night of the July 15, 2016 attempted coup Erdogan said “first of all, we will chop off the heads of those traitors,” France24 reported, prompting cries from the crowds demanding that capital punishment should be restored in Turkey.
In response, the Turkish president vowed again to sign any bill passed by parliament to restore capital punishment in Turkey, a decision that would put an end to Ankara’s European Union membership ambitions. “We are a state governed by rule of law. If it comes to me after parliament, I will sign it,” he said.
Or maybe not: also over the weekend, EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned Ankara against reintroducing the death penalty, telling Bild am Sonntag that “one year after the attempted coup, Europe’s hand remains outstretched,” and “If Turkey were to introduce the death penalty, the Turkish government would finally slam the door to EU membership.”
Erdogan also said the suspects being tried on suspicion of involvement in the failed coup should wear uniform similar to the notorious orange jumpsuits used at Guantanamo. “I spoke to the prime minister and… when they appear in court, let’s make them appear in uniform suits like in Guantanamo,” Erdogan said. His statement came after one of the detainees reportedly showed up to court wearing a T-shirt with ‘Hero’ written on it last week.
Erdogan also slammed opposition (and not only) claims that the government had foreknowledge of the coup and 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.
Meanwhile, in the biggest crackdown on civil liberties in recent history by a NATO member nation, over the past 12 months Ankara launched a massive crackdown on alleged coup supporters, as well as opposition figures and journalists; as a result over 50,000 people were arrested and more than 150,000 civil servants, police officers, and soldiers dismissed. In response, the “democratic” western press, and especially that of Europe, has largely given Erdogan a free pass knowing that the Turkish authoritarian holds to key to European stability, with over 2 million Syrian refugees “contained” within Turkey’s borders, who however can be released any time Erdogan finds himself especially displeased with his European colleagues.