Targeting the ‘March for Justice’ initiated by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday accused the opposition of supporting terrorism.
Speaking to provincial heads of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), President Erdoğan, who is also the chairman of the AKP, argued that the CHP has reached a point of alliance with terrorist groups. “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 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, chairman of the CHP.
According to Erdoğan, the marchers’ destination is the Qandil Mountains and Pennsylvania, a reference to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the faith-based Gülen movement.
Meanwhile, a woman named Şenay Günaydın was arrested in İstanbul on Saturday after she spoke at an event last week in support of the ongoing “March for Justice,” calling on people to take to the streets. Günaydın had spoken at İstanbul’s Maçka Park during a vigil supporting the “March for Justice,” as she called on people to take to the streets in protest of the AKP government. After she was targeted by the pro-government media, Günaydın was detained and arrested on charges of inciting hatred among the people.
Participation in the “March for Justice” has been on the rise with presence of various opposition groups. The participation has reached nearly 20,000 participants on Saturday, the 17th day of the protest. Novelist Aslı Erdoğan, who was imprisoned on terrorism charges for months, joined the march as well as critical theologian İhsan Eliaçık, who was active during the Gezi Park Protests of 2013.
Despite the high temperatures, the group has completed nearly 280 kilometers of the total distance of 420 kilometers. The silent protesters also carried a thousand-meter-long Turkish flag.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has also decided to support the march with the participation of a delegation. The HDP delegation will reportedly carry placards demanding the release of the party’s co-chairman and chairwoman, who have been imprisoned since late October.
CHP Chairman Kılıçdaroğlu launched the March for Justice in Ankara 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.
Turkey has been increasingly criticized by human rights organizations for the brutal purge that has been taking place since a failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016. Reports of torture and mistreatment of political detainees have become widespread in the county, which has been ruled under a state of emergency since July 20 of last year. (SCF with turkishminute.com) July 1, 2017