ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president addressed tens of thousands of people Saturday at a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the, vowing to “rip the heads off” of terror groups and of the coup-plotters who tried to end his more than a decade-long rule.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined the large, flag-waving crowd who took part in a national unity march in Istanbul, converging at the iconic July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge to remember 250 people who died on July 15, 2016 trying to resist the coup. Accompanied by his family and the families of the deceased, he inaugurated a hollow, globe-shaped monument featuring the names of the victims near the foot of the bridge.
“Exactly a year ago today, around this hour, a treacherous attempt took place,” Erdogan said.
“The July 15 coup attempt is not the first attack against our country, and it won’t be the last,” he said, referring to a series of terror attacks that also hit the country. “For that reason, we’ll first cut the heads off of these traitors.”
The bridge was the scene of clashes between civilians and soldiers in tanks. At least 30 people died there and more than 2,000 were injured across Turkey in the struggle.were also killed.
Photographs of the 250 “martyrs” were displayed on monitors and their names announced. Erdogan praised their bravery saying they were armed only with Turkish flags and “their faith” while resisting coup-plotters in their tanks.
Erdogan was later due to return to Ankara to address parliament at the exact moment it was bombed a year ago. He is also scheduled to inaugurate another monument honoring the dead.