Ankara: Following a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the government moved swiftly Sunday to shore up his power and remove those perceived as an enemy, saying it has detained 6,000 people.
The crackdown targeted not only generals and soldiers, but a wide swath of the judiciary that has sometimes blocked Erdogan, raising concerns that the effort to oust him will push Turkey even further into authoritarian rule.
Friday night’s sudden uprising by a faction of the military appeared to take the government — and much of the world — by surprise.
The plotters sent warplanes firing on key government installations and tanks rolling into major cities, but it ended hours later when loyal government forces regained control of the military, and civilians took to the streets in support of Erdogan. At least 294 people were killed and more than 1,400 wounded, the government said.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the coup had failed and life has returned to normal.
Yildirim said those involved with the failed coup “will receive every punishment they deserve.” Erdogan suggested that Turkey might reinstate capital punishment, which was legally abolished in 2004 as part of the country’s bid to join the European Union.
Even before the weekend chaos in Turkey, the NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group had been wracked by political turmoil that critics blamed on Erdogan’s increasingly heavy-handed rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissent, restricted the media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels.
Speaking to a large crowd of supporters in front of his Istanbul residence Sunday evening, Erdogan responded to frequent calls of “We want the death penalty!” by saying: “We hear your request. In a democracy, whatever the people want they will get.”