President Erdogan, opposition unite in Turkey rally

Thousands of protesters unite at Istanbul for post-coup rally. PHOTO: AFP

A pro-democracy rally in response to Turkey’s  failed coup attempt is being held in Istanbul, uniting the president, the prime minister and two opposition leaders on the same platform for the first time in years.
More than a million people, many waving the Turkish flag, attended the Sunday afternoon rally in Yenikapi square.
Al Jazeera reporting from Istanbul, described the event as “the biggest, most crowded political meeting, in Turkish political history”.
As part of its anti-coup campaign, Ankara has been encouraging nightly rallies throughout the country, culminating in Sunday’s grand finale.
The “Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally” is meant to represent the unity of the country, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urging attendees to bring only the Turkish flag, instead of party banners.
“There we will stand together as a single nation, a single flag, a single motherland, a single state, a single spirit,” he said before the rally.
Around 13,000 people, in addition to police officers, will be on duty to run the event.
Helicopters, ambulances and over 700 medical personnel will also be on duty.
Similar rallies will also be held simultaneously across the country, according to officials from ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
High-level officials attended the rally.
Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who is also the leader of the AKP, as well as the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli were present at the rally.
Kilicdaroglu and Bahceli addressed the rally before handing the stage to the prime minister and the president.
In his speech, Yildirim praised those “who fought bravely and stood in defiance” of the coup attempt.
Meanwhile opposition leader Kilicdaroglu said the failed coup has opened a “new door of compromise” in politics, adding that politics must now be kept out of the mosques, courthouses and barracks.
“There is a new Turkey after July 15,” Kilicdaroglu said.
However, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party’s (HDP) co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag are not invited.
The HDP opposed the coup, but has been excluded because it allegedly supports the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey, the US and the European Union designate the PKK, an armed group that has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy since 1984, as a “terrorist organisation”.
Erdogan has previously called for HDP members to be prosecuted, accusing them of being the PKK’s political wing.
The HDP is the third-biggest party in parliament. It denies having direct links with the PKK and promotes a negotiated end to the Kurdish conflict, which claimed hundreds of lives since a peace process, once led by Erdogan and his governing party, collapsed in 2015.