In Turkey, the death penalty has been out of the question for more than three decades. Currently, that abolishment applies in any circumstance—even times of war or danger of war. But following a violent military coup attempt that left around 200 people dead and thousands detained, that may just change.
The Turkish government officially abolished the death penalty nearly 15 years ago, according to BBC News—for peacetime circumstances in 2002, and for all situations in 2004. The abolishment was just a firm law reflecting a moratorium put on the death penalty in 1984, per the BBC. Reinstating the death penalty in Turkey hasn’t been out of the conversation in recent years, and Reuters reported that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a supporter of bringing it back before he even made it into office.
The failed military coup that occurred on Friday—which occurred mainly on the streets of Istanbul and the Turkish capital of Ankara, with tanks on the roads and fighter jets flying over them—sparked widespread interest once again, and Erdoğan could have a chance to do just what he supported as Prime Minister.
With around 6,000 people now detained and the number rising, CNN reports, Erdoğan brought up the death penalty while speaking at a funeral for those killed during the attempt. From CNN:
As the crowd chanted “we want the death penalty,” [Erdoğan] said, “we can’t ignore the people’s request in a democracy — this is your right.
“This right has to be evaluated by the appropriate authorities according to the constitution and a decision can be made,” Erdogan said in the address broadcast live on TV.
“This virus will be cleaned from all departments of the government,” he added.
At the time of the Turkish soldiers’ public surrender, there were 161 dead and another 1,440 injured. The numbers have risen since, and Erdoğan said those who plotted the coup would “pay for this in the harshest way.”
It looks as if we now know just what he meant by that statement—whether he sees the idea through or not.