National parks known as Public Gardens across Turkey hosted the National Unity Run on Friday to remember the 251 victims of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
The first run was held in the capital Ankara and was organized by the Turkish Athletics Federation. Emrullah Işler, a lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), started the run accompanied by 40 athletes. Participants ran for 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) on a track located directly across from the Ankara branch of the Turkish National Police, one of the places that came under fire by putschists in 2016 and where more than a dozen people were killed.
“We revived the memory of a day when the nation stood for its state and national will and fought a legendary struggle,” Işler said on the sidelines of the event. He also said Ankara had a special role in the fight against the coup attempt. “For the first time in its history, our Parliament resisted a coup attempt. We kept Parliament open that night under bombardment. We had martyrs here at police headquarters, near the Presidential Complex, at Kızılay Square. We remember them and let everyone know that our country’s unity and integrity cannot be disrupted whatever they do,” he said.
Since October 2016, July 15 has been marked as Democracy and National Unity Day. This year, some 9,000 events were organized across the country to remember the victims and celebrate victory against putschists.