Turkey’s Erdoğan: CHP’s Kılıçdaroğlu may never be able to go out on the street again

Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition CHP's leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu with not being able to go out into the street again, during a commemoration event in Ankara on Wednesday held to mark the anniversary of a controversial coup attempt last July.

Accusing Kılıçdaroğlu of being a coward, Erdoğan said: “If the person leading the main opposition [Kılıçdaroğlu] had not hidden on July 15 [when the coup attempt took place] in İstanbul, we would look at this march [‘March for Justice’ initiated by Kılıçdaroğlu] differently. This person who [talks about taking to the streets] should know that he may not be able to go out on the street again.”

President Erdoğan also said that “Under whose protection did they march, under our government’s protection. Did they rally, they did. You cannot say there is no security in the country. They are obsessed with OHAL (the state of emergency), but you would not march so comfortably if there was no OHAL.”

President Erdoğan also accused Kılıçdaroğlu of defending putschists and terrorists and said the justice sought in the streets is actually revenge, which ends in vandalism.

The “March for Justice” launched by Kılıçdaroğlu on June 15 in Ankara ended in İstanbul on Sunday with a “Justice Rally” attended by millions in Maltepe. The march was initiated in protest of the arrest of CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for leaking information for a report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting weapons to jihadists in Syria. Berberoğlu has been held in Maltepe Prison since June 14. Erdoğan and his government have been targeting the march, accusing the marchers of standing by terrorist organizations.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s main opposition party CHP and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have not been invited to an event in the Turkish Parliament organized by the Turkish Presidency to mark the first anniversary of the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, an event is to be held by the presidency in the courtyard of the parliament building to commemorate the victims of the coup attempt. President Erdoğan, Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli are expected to deliver speeches at the event, while nobody from CHP and HDP has been invited.

CHP group deputy chairman Özgür Özel said his party was not informed about the event. “This is not right, July 15 is not their father’s property; it belongs to all of us. Only July 20 [the date when a state of emergency was declared in Turkey] is theirs. They can celebrate July 20 altogether.”

For a special session in Parliament on the first anniversary of the controversial coup bid, party leaders were asked to submit their speech texts for simultaneous translation to a foreign audience. The CHP refused to submit its speech text beforehand and asked for an extension of the 10-minute-long speech time.

CHP deputy chairperson Bülent Tezcan has accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of dividing the country into two and excluding the opposition from July 15 commemoration events. “The AKP is running a marginalization campaign over the July 15 commemorations,” Tezcan said after the CHP’s Central Executive Board meeting on July 12.

“They have organized a special program in parliament under the presidency. The AKP leader, his deputy, the MHP leader, and the parliament speaker will speak but the leaders of other parties will not. No one has the right to divide the parliament,” Tezcan said. “You do not have the right to make arbitrary choices in parliament by deciding on who gets to speak,” he added.

Stressing that all parties resisted against the coup on the night of July 15, Tezcan said the resistance was not led solely by the AKP. “You cannot make it a veil that you use to cover up your own mistakes. We will not allow this,” said Tezcan.

On the other hand, AKP deputy Mehmet Erdem has criticized CHP for being absent on the night of July 15, 2016. “Those who did not show up on the July 15 night, not even on 16, 17, or 18 are now at the front lines of the July 15 commemoration events,” Erdem said on his Twitter account.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has announced on July 7, 2017 that at least 50,504 people have been arrested and 168,801 have been the subject of legal proceedings (investigations, detentions etc.) in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Also, arrest warrants have been issued for 8,069 people, according to Bozdağ. (SCF with turkishminute.com) July 12, 2017

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