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Tens of thousands of Turks have joined a pro-democracy rally in Istanbul, condemning Turkey’s failed coup and defending the republic.

The rally was organized by the opposition party CHP (Republican People’s Party) but was backed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK party (Justice and Development Party), in a rare show of unity.

CHP’s leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said “democracy won!” but he also warned against the dangers of authoritarianism.

One banner read: “No to the coup, no to dictatorship”.

Many of the CHP supporters gathered in Taksim Square waved flags with a picture of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Despite Turkey’s political divisions, Istanbul’s mayor and other AK party leaders joined the opposition demonstrators.

Posters at the rally proclaimed “No to coups”.

In his speech, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that amid the turmoil, “the parliament stood proudly, Turkey stood proudly, lawmakers stood proudly, people in this square have stood proudly, and democracy won!”

However, Kemal Kilicdaroglu also stressed the importance of a free press and freedom of assembly, as well as the dangers of dictatorship and authoritarianism.

The CHP leader said: “The state cannot be governed by grudge, anger and prejudice. Those responsible for the coup should be tried lawfully, with the understanding of abiding by the rule of law.”

In a rare move, pro-government TV channels broadcast the speech live.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a widespread crackdown following the attempted coup, arresting thousands of service personnel and sacking or suspending thousands of judges, government officials, school teachers and university heads.

Human Rights group Amnesty International said it had received credible evidence of detainees being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, since the coup attempt.

Amnesty’s Europe director John Dalhuisen in a statement: “It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.”

A state of emergency was declared on July 20, allowing the president and cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also extended the period in which suspects can be detained without charge to 30 days.

Ankara’s chief prosecutor Harun Kodalak has been reported by Turkish media as saying that 1,200 soldiers detained in the wake of the coup have now been released.

Those released were said to be low-ranking soldiers. Thousands of other service personnel, including more than 100 generals and admirals, remain in detention.

On July 23, Turkey’s presidential guard regiment was disbanded after nearly 300 of its members were detained following the failed coup.

Turkish state television TRT has banned the main opposition party’s election campaign advertisement because it directly targets the government.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) accused TRT of “abusing public office” and vowed to take legal action.

The opposition party has previously protested at TRT “bias” towards President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The election will take place on June 7.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

In a statement on the CHP website, deputy leader Bulent Tezcan said: “By taking the decision not the broadcast the advertisement, TRT has created a new scandal.

“The main purpose of state-funded television in all democratic countries is fairness of broadcasting. TRT’s direction is committing the crime of abuse of public office.”

Bulent Tezcan also reminded the state TV that it is “owned by the public”.

TRT has so far declined to comment.

The opposition ad featured the slogan “we applaud as a nation” and criticized the “oppression” of justice, freedom and secularism in Turkey.

It urged voters to attend CHP’s first mass election rally on April 11.

The controversy follows a ruling by a court in Ankara on April 9, which ordered CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu to pay damages for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a speech in 2013.

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Marlene Pinnock, who was repeatedly punched in the face and head by a police officer at the side of the road, will receive $1.5 million in compensation.

Footage posted on YouTube in July 2014 shows a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer straddling the woman and hitting her many times.

The settlement agreed on September 24 came after nine hours of talks between lawyers in Los Angeles.

A CHP statement said the officer, on leave since the incident, has resigned.

“When this incident occurred, I promised that I would look into it and vowed a swift resolution,” said the statement by CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.

“Today, we have worked constructively to reach a settlement agreement that is satisfactory to all parties involved.”

The bulk of the money will go into a special needs trust for 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock, the CHP said.

Marlene Pinnock’s lawyer Caree Harper said the settlement secured the two things she wanted.

In July 2014, Marlene Pinnock was repeatedly punched in the face and head by a CHP officer at the side of the road

In July 2014, Marlene Pinnock was repeatedly punched in the face and head by a CHP officer at the side of the road

“One of the things we wanted to make sure of was that she was provided for in a manner that accommodated her unique situation in life, and that the officer was not going to be an officer anymore.”

Police had said the woman was endangering herself and motorists walking on the shoulder of a busy highway in the west of Los Angeles.

The incident was captured by passing motorist David Diaz, who said the officer arrived as the woman was walking off the highway, but he “agitated the situation”.

The officer is seen forcing her to the ground, briefly struggling with her before repeatedly punching her.

A few moments later, a plainclothes officer enters the picture and helps his colleague put the woman in handcuffs.

According to court documents, Marlene Pinnock suffered no signs of physical injury and refused medical treatment. She was placed under psychiatric supervision for two weeks.

“He grabbed me, he threw me down, he started beating me,” Marlene Pinnock told Associated Press news agency last month.

“I felt like he was trying to kill me, beat me to death.”

The officer could still face criminal charges.

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