July 15 (UPI) — Turkey marked the one-year anniversary of a failed military coup by firing about 7,400 police, soldiers and other public servants on Saturday.
The government has previously dismissed more than 100,000 public sector workers and another 50,000 from the military, police, judiciary, education and press have been arrested.
The latest dismissals include 2,303 police officers, 1,486 interior ministry staff, 546 navy and air force personnel, 418 justice ministry officials, 789 from the health ministry, 551 from religious affairs, 302 academics and 102 education ministry employees.
Those figures include the dismissal of Istanbul’s former governor, Huseyin Avni Mutlu.
“They are asking how many people have been dismissed from work, how their needs will be met from now on,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said about the firings, according to Euronews. “Let them work in private sector. Why should we care? Will we think about them? Let them work in private sector. Will the state look after them? The state looked after them and they betrayed the state.”
On Saturday, Erdogan renamed the iconic Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul as Martyrs’ Bridge — the scene of clashes between civilians and military tanks in 2016.
In Ankara, the president planned to deliver a speech in parliament at 2:32 a.m. Sunday — the exact moment the assembly was attacked a year ago.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called the coup attempt “Turkey’s darkest and longest night,” which was “transformed into a bright day.”
Roughly 250 people were killed and more than 2,000 others injured when an army faction commandeered tanks and warplanes in a bid to overthrow Erdogan. Thirty-five coup organizers were also killed.
Thousands of people are participating marches in Istanbul and Ankara this weekend. The Erdogan administration placed billboards in Istanbul that contain images of significant events, including the surrender of opposition troops.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement Friday applauding Turkish people “of all backgrounds and political views” who “took to the streets to preserve the rights and freedoms of their democratic society.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement Saturday he recalled his visit to Ankara after the coup attempt and “the shock I felt seeing the damage inflicted at the Parliament building by the bombardments of the coup plotters.”
“I reiterate my strong message that any attempt to undermine democracy in any of our allied countries is unacceptable,” he said.
Last Sunday, Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu organized a massive rally in Istanbul after a 280-mile, 25-day march against the policies of Turkey’s government.
Erdogan said the attempted coup was led by a cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States for nearly two decades. Gulen denies any involvement.
Gulen, in a statement posted on his website, said the Turkish government’s “treatment of innocent citizens during the past year is dragging Turkey into the category of the countries with the worst record of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms in the world.”