Europe

Turkey failed coup: Tens of thousands in pro-democracy rally

Demonstrators wave Turkish flags and picture of Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, in Istanbul"s Taksim Square on July 24, 2016 during the first cross-party rally to condemn the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tens of thousands took to the streets in a rare cross-party demonstration

Tens of thousands of people have joined a pro-democracy rally in Istanbul, condemning the nation's attempted coup.

The rally was organised by the opposition party CHP but was backed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK party, in a rare show of unity.

Amid a sea of red flags, banners bore slogans such as "We defend the republic!"

The CHP's leader said "democracy won!" but he also warned against the dangers of authoritarianism.

One banner read: "No to the coup, no to dictatorship".

'Turkey stood proudly'

Many of the CHP supporters gathered in Taksim Square waved flags with a picture of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

Despite Turkey's political divisions, Istanbul's mayor and other AK party leaders joined the opposition demonstrators.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Istanbul's Taksim Square was transformed into a sea of flags in a "democracy festival"
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many opposition supporters waved flags with the image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

Posters at the rally proclaimed "No to coups".

In his speech, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that amid the turmoil, "the parliament stood proudly, Turkey stood proudly, MPs stood proudly, people in this square have stood proudly, and democracy won!"

But he also stressed the importance of a free press and freedom of assembly, as well as the dangers of dictatorship and authoritarianism.

He said: "The state cannot be governed by grudge, anger and prejudice. Those responsible for the coup should be tried lawfully, with the understanding of abiding by the rule of law."

In a rare move, pro-government television channels broadcast the speech live.

President Erdogan launched a widespread crackdown following the attempted coup, arresting thousands of service personnel and sacking or suspending thousands of judges, government officials, school teachers and university heads.

Human Rights group Amnesty International said it had received credible evidence of detainees being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, since the coup attempt.

"It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held," said Amnesty's Europe director John Dalhuisen in a statement.

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Media captionTurkey disbands presidential guard

A state of emergency was declared on Wednesday, allowing the president and cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.

Mr Erdogan has also extended the period in which suspects can be detained without charge to 30 days.

Ankara's chief prosecutor Harun Kodalak has been reported by Turkish media as saying that 1,200 soldiers detained in the wake of the coup have now been released.

Those freed were said to be low-ranking soldiers. Thousands of other service personnel, including more than 100 generals and admirals, remain in detention.

On Saturday, Turkey's elite presidential guard was disbanded after nearly 300 of its members were detained following the failed coup.

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