The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Turkish mayor calls for a ‘graveyard for traitors’ behind failed coup

Family members of detained Turkish soldiers wait in front of the Istanbul Justice Palace. (Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images)
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Kadir Topbas, the mayor of Istanbul's metropolitan municipality, has declared his intent to create a separate plot to bury the corpses of soldiers who died while attempting a coup last week that ultimately failed.

“I ordered a space to be saved and to call it ‘the graveyard for traitors.' The passersby will curse the ones buried there," Topbas is quoted by Hurriyet Daily News as telling a group of supporters on Tuesday evening. "Everyone visiting the place will curse them and they won’t be able to rest in their graves."

About 20 military personnel linked to the coup are thought to have been killed in clashes with loyalist security forces in the late hours of Friday night. A total of about 240 people died, including dozens of civilians who had challenged the coup-makers in Istanbul, Turkey's biggest city, and Ankara, the capital.

As has become customary in Muslim-majority countries in the wake of terrorist attacks and other violence, authorities announced that the dead "putschists" — as the pro-coup troops are being called — would not receive proper Islamic burials. The country's main religious body, the Diyanet, said it would make exceptions for soldiers who had been "forcibly dragged" into the mutiny.

The decrees are an echo of the prevailing mood in Turkey, where backers of the government mass in public spaces for nightly rallies, while the government continues a sweeping purge of the state's institutions that has implicated tens of thousands.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated that he would support the reinstatement of the death penalty should it be authorized by parliament, where his party holds a majority of seats.

Topbas seems, in particular, to capture the nationalist anger of the moment.

“I believe that they won’t be saved from hell. But we need [to] make the world unbearable for them,” he said, referring to the soldiers who attempted the coup.

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