Tucked in the back corner of a construction site for a new dog shelter in eastern Istanbul lies a freshly dug, unmarked grave – the first in the new “traitors’ cemetery” created specifically to hold the bodies of plotters who died in the 15 July failed coup.
The following week, the city announced it intended to set up a cemetery specifically for those involved who had died, an estimated 24 of the almost 300 killed that night.
Authorities would “reserve a spot and call it a traitors’ cemetery. Passersby will curse them,” the Istanbul mayor, Kadir Topbaş, said in remarks carried by the Doğan news agency. “May every passerby curse them and let them not rest in their tombs.”
The creation of the cemetery comes as the Erdoğan government issues a widespread crackdown in the aftermath of the coup. Nearly 16,000 people have been detained, including about 10,000 military personnel; displays of patriotism abound, with many Turks flying national flags from the windows of their apartments or cars, and nightly pro-government rallies are held in cities across the country.
Turkey’s directorate of religious affairs issued a directive denying funeral prayers and services for those who died while trying to overthrow the government. Such prayers, it said, were intended for the faithful as an act of exoneration, “but these people, with the action they undertook, have disregarded not just individuals but also the law of an entire nation and therefore do not deserve exoneration from the faithful”.
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