Pro-gov’t journalist implies assassination for Turkey’s main opposition leader

Pro-Erdoğan journalist Fatih Tezcan.

Fatih Tezcan, a pro-government public speaker and columnist, on Monday implied that main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu would be assassinated before he completes a “March for Justice” he launched on June 15.

“I hope he [Kılıçdaroğlu] will be not killed until July 9 so we can hear what he has to say… At that time they will start the actions that he mentioned … and we will come towards the end of the issue slowly …” said Tezcan in a tweet, as a follow-up to another message where he summarized what Kılıçdaroğlu had said in an interview with a daily: “On July 9, we will hold a great rally and announce our demands. We will take new actions until what we demand is accomplished.”

Tezcan’s tweets came a day after Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the opposition of supporting terrorism by means of the march.

“You cannot argue that you are marching for justice when you never even imagined marching against terrorist groups, but you have started a march supporting terrorists,” Erdoğan said, addressing Kılıçdaroğlu.

Two days after the start of the march, Erdoğan said Kılıçdaroğlu must seek justice in Parliament lest he be “invited by the judiciary [to testify].”

“Holding ‘Justice’ placards in one’s hands doesn’t bring justice. Inviting people into the streets is for the interest of no one. If he [Kılıçdaroğlu] thinks they will find justice in this, he is wrong. Parliament is the place to seek justice. Don’t be surprised if the judiciary invites you [to testify] tomorrow,” said Erdoğan.

AKP spokesperson Mahir Ünal has also accused the CHP of attempting to “lead Turkey into chaos” with its ongoing March for Justice. He also claimed that CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was a “mouthpiece” of foreign circles working against President Erdoğan and his government. “The CHP is concealing its efforts of creating chaos by abusing the concept of justice. I wish he [Kılıçdaroğlu] would be sincere in his demand for justice. If they were really sincere, then they would support our efforts to bring the July 15, 2016, coup plotters to account for their actions and they would stand with the victims,” Ünal told Erdoğanist Sabah daily on Monday.

“An interesting picture appears when we analyze the statements of Kılıçdaroğlu and his friends since 2013. The CHP is using the same propaganda language against Turkey as international actors,” he said, adding that it was being done mostly by CHP members who identified themselves as the “new spirit of the party,” labelling them as the “adversaries of the traditional CHP line.”

The AKP spokesman also said the CHP was acting on behalf of groups attempting to try the AKP in international courts. “We are witnessing that Kılıçdaroğlu has been undertaking [the role of] being a spokesperson of the circles that try to portray Turkey’s actions to protect its citizens and borders as war crimes,” he stated, adding that the CHP was not acting like a political party but an organization targeting the unity of Turkey.

CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu has reiterated his warning of potential provocations against the crowds walking with him in the “March for Justice.” Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s warning, armored vehicles were seen accompanying the march.  “We are hearing that some provocations could take place as we are getting closer to İstanbul. I want all participants to respond to any kind of provocations with applauds,” the CHP head told reporters on Monday.

“We have been subject to swearing, stones have been thrown at us, and fertilizer has been dumped on our path. But we are walking for justice and for a cause. So we consider the stones thrown at us as roses and the curses as nice words,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.  “Whatever they say, we’re walking for an ideal Turkey, for our children, for our future and for justice,” he vowed.

“No prosperity can be reached through oppression. Our core philosophy obliges us to stand with the oppressed,” Kılıçdaroğlu stated. “The basic cause of this march is that injustices in Turkey have built up to such a point that … those who accuse, judges, and convicts are all the same person, and that is supposed to be called justice. There can be no such justice … That is why we continue our march with the same determination,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said on Monday that it was the responsibility of the CHP to not lay the ground for “internal provocations” during the ongoing march. “Unfortunately it is a march that should be monitored carefully as it lays the ground for some terror organizations to lay claim to it. We encourage the CHP’s managers to act sensitively,” Kurtulmuş told reporters in Ankara after the weekly cabinet meeting.

CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu launched the March for Justice in protest of the arrest of CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu. The march is expected to last for 25 days and end at Maltepe Prison in İstanbul where Berberoğlu is jailed.

Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in prison on June 14 for leaking information for a report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting weapons to jihadists in Syria.

Participation in the march has been on the rise with presence of various opposition groups.

On June 29, pro-government education union Eğitim Bir-Sen’s İstanbul branch head Talat Yavuz threatened participants of the March for Justice “not to test the limit of the nation’s patience further.”

A pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) delegation has also joined “March for Justice” in the Kandıra district of Kocaeli province, on its 19th day on Monday. The HDP delegation, consisting of Co-chairperson Serpil Kemalbay and deputies, joined the march in front of Kandıra Prison, where former Co-chairperson Figen Yüksekdağ is being held.

HDP Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş and former HDP Co-chairperson Figen Yüksekdağ, who is also in prison, have called for solidarity among opposition groups in Turkey and expressed their support for a “March for Justice” launched by Kılıçdaroğlu.

HDP deputy group chairman Ahmet Yıldırım, who shared Demirtaş’s views about the March for Justice during an interview with the Gazete Duvar on Sunday, said: “Mr. Demirtaş said the march should aim to bring all the opposition groups together. He thinks the need for justice goes beyond his own arrest and the elimination of his victimization and that the march, not only through words but also deeds, should evolve into bringing justice for everyone.”

Yıldırım added that Demirtaş, who has been jailed on terror charges since November 2016, said he thinks the sustainability of social opposition is important.

Yüksekdağ, who has also been in prison since November 2016, also expressed her support for the march in a message and emphasized the need for justice beyond any political ideology.

“Under current circumstances in which journalists, politicians, academics, those who stand up for their jobs and livelihood at the expense of their lives and everyone who does not think like the Palace [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] are being jailed, we should not aim for polarization but unite around the same goal and succeed in walking in every field of life without stopping. We are more than 49 percent; we can achieve justice, peace and freedom,” said Yüksekdağ.

Yüksekdağ was referring to the percentage of naysayers in a referendum held in April that introduced an executive presidency in Turkey.

As of July 3, the 19th day of March for Justice, Kılıçdaroğlu has covered 315 out of the 420 kilometers to İstanbul. He will end the march at Maltepe Prison, where Berberoğlu is jailed. (SCF with July 3, 2017

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