Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he will support the reintroduction of the death penalty after last month’s failed coup, as long as the Turkish public and parliament approve the measure.
The streets of Istanbul were overflowing with supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday night with more than a million people attending a rally in the wake of last month’s failed military coup. Turkish government sources said five million people arrived to support the president, and the event was broadcast to thousands more at smaller rallies across the country.
“If the nation makes such a decision [in support of death penalty], I believe political parties will abide by this decision,” he said in a rally at the Yenikapi square in the city’s Sultanahmet district in Istanbul on Sunday.
“It is the Turkish parliament that will decide on this [death penalty] given the sovereignty rests with the nation…I declare it in advance, I will approve the decision made by the parliament,” Erdogan said.
He compared the use of the death penalty in the U.S., Japan and China as examples of major powers who utilize such a measure, in defiance of critics within the EU who have cautioned against such moves following the coup attempt.
“They say there is no death penalty in the EU… Well, the US has it, Japan has it, China has it, most of the world has it. So they are allowed to have it. We used to have it until 1984. Sovereignty belongs to the people, so if the people make this decision I am sure the political parties will comply.”
Amid red and white flags, Erdogan pledged to use any measures within the power of the ruling government to prevent another attempt at seizing power in the NATO member state.
“As a state and as a nation we need to analyze the July 15 coup attempt very well. We need to evaluate well not just those who engaged in this treachery, but the powers behind them, the motives that made them take action,” Erdogan told the crowd, whose number the Turkish media estimated to be millions.
The Turkish government accused the exiled U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of inspiring the failed military coup last month, which saw clashes leave at least 273 people dead, but Gulen has denied his involvement in the coup.