On April 9, the Turkish Culture Ministry revealed plans to build a museum devoted to the victims of last year’s failed coup d’état. Construction of the institution, which will be called the Museum of the 15 July: Martyrs and Democracy, is due to begin in June, at a site about 40 minutes north of Ankara. The Ministry estimates it will open to the public in late 2018.
The roughly 36,600-square-foot project will cost 10 million Turkish liras (~$2.71 million) to build. It will feature temporary and permanent exhibits commemorating the “martyrs and warriors” of last summer’s coup, which sought to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — who has been cleared to further consolidate his power following a slim victory in Sunday’s constitutional referendum.
More than 300 people were killed in the failed coup, which unfolded on July 15, 2016. Since then, the country has been under a constant state of emergency, giving Erdoğan greater power to dismiss or detain anyone accused of being a supporter of the coup. In the nine months since the attempted coup, nearly 100,000 people have been detained, almost 50,000 arrested, and more than 130,000 state workers, academics, and teachers fired, according to the site Turkey Purge. Artists, journalists, and cartoonists have also been targeted. Kurdish groups have also been disproportionately targeted. The government-led purge of Turkish institutions is seen by many as a thinly veiled campaign to quash any potential dissent in every corner of society.
“The crackdown that followed the coup attempt was symptomatic of the government’s increasing authoritarianism,” according to Human Rights Watch’s 2017 report on Turkey. “Under the state of emergency, the president presides over the cabinet, which can pass decrees without parliamentary scrutiny or possibility of appeal to the constitutional court. Many decrees passed contain measures that conflict with basic human rights safeguards and Turkey’s obligations under international and domestic law.”
In addition to its exhibits, the Museum of the 15 July will have a library, café, gift shop, education workshop, and screening room.