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The “No” Convoy touring Anatolia for referendum

Ela Gonca Izmirli

Ahead of the referendum on the constitutional changes which significantly increases the powers of the presidency, victims of the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases united in an opposition movement they call the ‘No/Auspicious Convoy.’ The name of the project plays on the homonym in Turkish where the word for ‘no’ is both pronounced and spelled the same as ‘auspicious.’  

 

The group aims to visit nine provinces in nine days to organize many town-hall type events. The team members who were tried in a series of -now proven to be- spurious cases and eventually acquitted, oppose the constitutional change bill drafted by the AKP government. It was widely believed that the Gulen followers were behind those ‘coup’ cases that tried hundreds of active officials and eventually forcing them out of Turkish Military. Number of columns also argued over the years that after forcing hundreds of military officers, Gulenists then replaced most of their places with their own sympathizers.

The group that started their campaign on February 28th at the resting place of the nation’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, will visit and give speeches at nine provinces of Turkey in nine days. Among the names joining the movement are Lieutenant Mehmet Ali Celebi, Retired General Ahmet Yavuz, Retired Colonel Ali Türksen, Retired Admiral Semih Cetin, and former president of the non-profit Search and Rescue Association (AKUT) Nasuh Mahruki.

During the press briefing to announce their project, Lieutenant Mehmet Ali Celebi said “We are not doing this for politics or even valor. We just want to interact with the people.” He stated that they were going to start with a group of ten and invited anyone to accompany them adding that rather than big rallies they were hoping to organize town-hall type events along the way.

The coalition who visited many small towns along the way and stopped to do many meet-and-greets with locals warned the citizens against the controversial constitutional changes. Giving examples from their experiences and claiming that President Erdogan was “fooled” once by the ”FETO” organization cautioned citizens against the new bill and invited them to vote ‘no.’

The group that was reportedly greeted with excitement in most towns, is trying to use its members popularity to oppose the bill when many independent organizations are reporting that the government is actively trying to suppress opposition. Team members used social media and twitter actively and shared many posts and photos during their stops.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Turkey has jailed more than 100 journalists and closed down at least 149 media outlets since the attempted coup in July 2016.

”No Convoy” finished its first ‘tour’ and promised that the team will be back visiting other Anatolian cities for a second and third tour very soon.

 

 

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