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Tens of thousands gather for Istanbul pro-democracy rally

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Demonstrators rise their hands and hold a placard reading "We save republic and democracy" as they gather at Istanbul's Taksim Square in Istanbul on July 24, 2016. (AFP)

A huge pro-democracy rally has been held in Istanbul by supporters of Turkey's ruling and main opposition parties after a failed military coup.

Tens of thousands of people joined the cross-party "Republic and Democracy" rally in Istanbul's central Taksim Square on Sunday.

A live speech by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu was also broadcasted during the rally which was organized by the party.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Republican People's Party (CHP), speaks at Istanbul's Taksim Square on July 24, 2016. (AFP)

"This is a day to unite, a day to stand up against coups and dictatorial regimes, a day to let the voice of the people be heard," he said. "We are all together in Taksim today. Today is a day we made history all together," he added.

Steel barriers were put up around the square to protect participants, who entered via security gates.

A war veteran stands as they demonstrators wave Turkish national flags at Taksim Square in Istanbul on July 24, 2016. (AFP)

"The coup attempt was done against our democratic, secular, social state, governed by rule of law," added Kilicdaroglu.

The putsch began overnight on July 15, when a faction of the Turkish military declared it was in control of the country and the Ankara administration was no more in charge. Tanks, helicopters and soldiers then clashed with police and people on the streets of the capital and Istanbul.

A demonstrator waves a Turkish flag near Istanbul's Taksim Square on July 24, 2016 during the first cross-party rally to condemn the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AFP)

The coup was gradually suppressed by military forces and people loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. More than 300 people were killed from both sides.

A sweeping wave of arrests engulfed the Anatolian country in the wake of the abortive coup. 

Tens of thousands of soldiers, security officers, judges, prosecutors, civil servants and academics suspected of being connected to the Gulen movement have been detained or suspended from their jobs following the putsch. Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric, has been accused by Ankara of orchestrating the coup attempt. He “categorically” rejects the claim.

In a pre-recorded address broadcast on the national television on Saturday, President Erdogan said that so far, 934 schools, 109 student dorms, 15 universities, 104 foundations, 1,125 charity organization, 35 health institutes and 19 unions have been shut down amid the government’s crackdown on those believed to have played a role in the failed putsch.

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