Erdogan's iron fist: Turkey since failed 2016 coup

AFP , Thursday 26 Nov 2020

Turkey imposed crackdowns that have followed the failed July 15 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016

Turkish police officers stand guard at the entrance of the Sincan Penal Institution at the 4th Heavy Penal Court near Ankara, on November 26, 2020 AFP

As Turkey jails more than 330 former air force pilots and other suspects for life, we look back on the crackdowns that have followed the failed July 15 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.

- Post-coup purges -
Some 250 people die as Erdogan supporters take to the streets to resist a coup by a renegade military faction that includes air strikes on parliament in Ankara.

On July 16-17 hundreds of generals, judges and prosecutors are arrested.

Erdogan blames the putsch on exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally turned arch-foe, and demands his extradition from the United States.

The purges widen to include the police, the education system, trade unions and the media, including anyone suspected of links to Gulen.

Since then around 96,000 people have been arrested and over 100,000 sacked from civil service jobs. Hundreds of court cases have opened.

- 'Traitors' warned -
Turkey marks the first anniversary of the coup with mass rallies, with July 15 declared an annual national holiday.

Addressing hundreds of thousands of supporters in Istanbul, Erdogan says he thinking of reintroducing capital punishment and will "chop off the heads" of traitors.

In August 2017, nearly 500 people appear in court near Ankara in the biggest trial yet of suspects from the failed coup.

Top military leaders are replaced.

- 'One-man rule' -
Erdogan is set to get sweeping new powers after Turks narrowly approve an April 2017 referendum creating an executive presidency which critics say will lead to "one-man rule".

The post of prime minister is abolished and Erdogan can hire and fire ministers.

- All-powerful president -
Erdogan wins the first new-look presidential election in June 2018, with his Islamist-rooted AKP party holding its overall majority in parliamentary elections the same day with help from ultra-nationalist allies.

He appoints his son-in-law Berat Albayrak finance minister.

Erdogan calls jailed reporters "terrorists" after Turkey again tops list of countries with the most reporters behind bars.

- Istanbul lost -
While the AKP wins most votes nationwide in March 2019 local elections, it loses control of the capital Ankara and of Istanbul, the country's powerhouse.

Erdogan claims irregularities in the counting and the results are annulled.

Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu wins again in a June re-run in Istanbul -- where Erdogan was once mayor -- with a much bigger margin than in the first election.

Meanwhile a controversial law grants police-like powers to neighbourhood "nightwatchmen" patrols, leading critics to accuse the president of trying to build a loyal militia.

- Hagia Sophia -
Despite protests from abroad, Erdogan announces that the ancient Christian basilica will again become a mosque on July 10, 2020. It had been a museum since 1934.

Twelve days later thousands take part in Muslim prayers under its famous dome.

- Social media muzzle -
On July 29 Turkey cracks down on social media which a controversial law that human rights groups warn could lead to censorship.

Erdogan had previously threatened to "wipe out" social media. Earlier in July he attacked users who insulted Albayrak and his wife Esra, the president's daughter, after the birth of their fourth child.

With the lira plunging, the unpopular Albayrak goes on November 8.

- Super trials -
More than 330 former pilots and other suspects are jailed Thursday for their part in the 2016 coup, bringing to more than 2,800 the number of people sentenced to life behind bars for the failed ouster.

Another massive trial of 521 suspects is still underway.

Short link: