CREDIT: AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

Turkish soldiers secure the area as supporters of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in Istanbul’s Taksim square, early Saturday.

After a deadly night of unrest, Turkey’s government defeated a coup attempt by a faction of its military as it imposed martial law and a curfew on Saturday.

At least 161 people died in the clashes and another 1,440 were injured, CNN reported. Nearly 3,000 military personnel have been detained while the Interior Ministry suspended some five generals and 29 colonels.

“Arrests are still being made,” said Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, according to CNN. “Our noble assembly will get together and discuss the measures that can be taken [so that] Turkey will not have this sort of madness again in the future. Whichever legal measures need to be taken we will discuss [them] with other party leaders.” Turkey does not have capital punishment but the ongoing debate to reinstate the death penalty has intensified after the attempted coup.

 

 

As the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cements its control, it seems to be moving to crack down not just on the military, but on the country’s courts, pointing to yet another blow to its judiciary system. Erdogan’s government has long been criticized for reshuffling the judiciary to affirm control. Shortly after Friday’s attempted coup, nearly 3,000 judges were suspended, and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, which oversees judicial appointments and disciplinary measures, terminated the membership of five of its members.

President Erdogan, who has led Turkey for 11 years, has blamed Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen for the unrest. Gulen, who lives in the U.S., has denied any involvement and it remains unclear who was behind the coup. “The betrayal you have done to this nation [is enough],” Erdogan said while referring to Gulen.

The failed coup started Friday afternoon and the country plummeted into a night of violence. The military faction took over television stations, grounded flights, and declared it had seized “the rule of the country completely with the aim of reinstalling the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms.”

Erdogan countered from a secret location and proceeded to broadcast FaceTime messages from an iPhone urging the public to resist the coup. “There is no power higher than the power of the people,” Erdogan said. The military moved to stop traffic, and close bridges, while multiple political factions — even those that oppose Erdogan — condemned the coup, the New York Times reported. Erdogan supporters responded to the president’s pleas with massive protests while reports of shots and clashes were ongoing.

By Saturday morning, reports surfaced that soldiers supporting the coup were surrendering to the military. Some soldiers have fled to nearby Greece.

Turkey has gone through four military coups in the last five decades. The last coup happened in 1997, when the military gave out a series of “recommendations” after the rise of the Welfare Party, an Islamic political party. Then Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, agreed to a compulsory eight-year education program that prevented pupils from enrolling in religious schools, a headscarf ban at universities, and other measures. Erbakan was then forced to resign.

Since then the country has suffered much turmoil in the form of mass protests and terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, the Erdogan government has been accused of trampling freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, excessive use of force, torture and impunity. Amnesty International has recently said human rights violations have intensified following parliamentary elections in June .