Kiliçdaroğlu speaks on second day of 280-mile “Justice” march
On Thursday, the leader of Turkey’s opposition party, CHP, began a 280-mile march from the capital of Ankara to Istanbul in protest of the most recent imprisonment of a member of Parliament.
On Wednesday, an Istanbul court sentenced CHP MP, Enis Berberoğlu, to 25 years in prison on whistleblowing charges, relaying so-called state secrets to the secular daily Cumhuriyet. The newspaper has also recently fallen victim to the state’s recent antics of cracking down on opposition voices.
Thousands of protesters gathered in Ankara on Thursday holding signs that read adalet, or justice in English, as they began their “Justice March” to Maltepe located in Istanbul’s Asian side where Berberoğlu is currently in prison.Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also commented on the march and stated: “Justice cannot be sought in the streets. It is not becoming of the main opposition party to take to the streets and complain about us to the world. Parliament is the venue for resolutions.” Yıldırım also mocked the march and advised Kılıçdaroğlu to take the train, instead of walking to Istanbul. On Friday Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag in a written statement called the CHP justice march “illegal” and said it was an attempt to influence ongoing judicial proceedings.
Yesterday Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of nationalist party MHP, commented on the first day of the “Justice” march by suggesting that this form of protest against a court decision was illegal. “Just is not a lost object you might on the road or a treasure you stumble on. Not being aware of this is ignorance,” he wrote on his official Twitter account yesterday.
Kiliçdaroğlu addressed Bahçeli’s words at the beginning of today’s walk by remarking, “If the marches are done within the bounds of the law, then nothing happens. People walk in the mornings and in the evenings. People walk to get onto the metro and onto buses. People walk going to and coming from work. This is the first time I’ve heard that walking is a crime.”
He continued by saying, “Quite the contrary, we are walking to ensure sovereignty and that we can live together in peace in our country…Despite all the criticisms we receive regarding our walk, we will work to bring these things about. Bahçeli should not worry, he will also need justice.”
In the same speech, Kiliçdaroğlu further went onto say that he expected to walk 22 kilometres today, with demonstrators participating in different locations. The march to Istanbul is set to last 25 days, with the protestors staying in tents along the way.
The story in question that led to Berberoğlu’s sentencing is related to revealing intelligence collected by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) of vehicles crossing the Syrian border carrying weapons. It was thought that the vehicle was transporting humanitarian aid.
Pro-Kurdish HDP Party leading deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder called on Kılıçdaroğlu to expand his vision and open to wider public: ”We expect from CHP a call that will include self-criticism and expand the opposition.”
Kılıçdaroğlu, before began the march, for the first time expressed his wishes to visit pro-Kurdish HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş who has been jailed since early November of 2016.
Former AKP MP Ahmet Faruk Ünsal also among those on the Justice March as well as Refah Party’s former MP Merve Kavakçı’s husband, Cihangir İslam.
The JusticeMarch also tries to use the social media as much as possible. Newly created twitter handle tracks where is CHP leader’s march during the day, updates the march’s route regularly. Twitter handle translates: ”Where is Kılıçdaroğlu”:
— Kılıçdaroğlu Nerede? (@KKNerede) June 15, 2017