Convicts doing public service assigned to join Erdoğan's coup commemoration

Prisoners doing public service under probationary sentences were assigned to join an event to be held at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport on the third anniversary of a 2016 failed coup attempt, Turkish news site Artı Gerçek reported on Saturday.

Turkey is set to mark the third anniversary of the deadly 2016 coup attempt, with a series of commemoration events slated to take place all across Turkey, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expected to address the public at Istanbul Atatürk Airport.

The Turkish government blames the coup attempt that took place on July 15, 2016, on members of the Gülen religious movement led by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen who is on self-exile in the United States.

Convicts doing public service at Sultan Abdülhamid Han training and research hospital were taken to the airport on Friday for the rehearsal of the event and they were assigned to participate the commemoration on Monday, Artı Gerçek said. 

"We were taken to the airport by shuttles for the rehearsal of the meeting with Erdoğan. On Monday evening, we will be taken from the hospital to Atatürk Airport again to welcome Erdoğan," the news site quoted one of the convicts as saying.

The number of prisoners has reached record levels following a series of purges in the wake of the failed coup. Some 583,083 people are now on probation in Turkey, with 379,100 banned from travelling abroad and forced to report to police stations, Turkish daily Habertürk reported last June.  

Probationary sentences involve judicial control instead of arrest, and attending a training institution or doing public service instead of prison time. But the suffering does not end when the convicted leave Turkey’s prison system.