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Istanbul Protests: Thousands Rally against President Following ’Justice March’
Local Editor

Hundreds of thousands of Turkish people joined a rally in Istanbul at the end of a 25-day "march for justice" against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Istanbul Protests: Thousands Rally against President Following 'Justice March'

The opposition Republican People's Party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, led the 280-mile walk from Ankara to Istanbul after his deputy leader was imprisoned in June.

Erdogan spearheaded a large-scale government crackdown against opponents in the wake of a failed coup against him last summer, and was granted sweeping new powers following a controversial referendum in April.

"If only there was no need for this march and there was democracy, media freedoms, if civic society groups could freely express their opinions," Kilicdaroglu said.

The opposition leader was once seen as weak but has emerged as the voice of many Turks, even prompting comparisons to Mahatma Gandhi, who led peaceful protests against British rule in India.

Kilicdaroglu told Reuters his three-week march had helped Turks "cast off a shirt of fear" since emergency rule was imposed after the coup attempt.

The 68-year-old attracted relatively modest support in the early stages of his march, but numbers swelled in the final days, with hundreds of thousands carrying banners and the Turkish flag as they demanded "rights, law, and justice".

The government accused Kilicdaroglu of supporting terrorist groups with his protest and violating the law by attempting to influence the judiciary.

Erdogan claims to be cracking down against those who support militant organizations, but the government definition of what constitutes backing terrorism is so broad it has led to the arrest of thousands of civil servants, journalists, campaigners and other workers.

Parliamentarian Enis Berberoglu was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison for revealing state secrets after he allegedly leaked documents to an opposition newspaper suggesting the Turkish government had armed jihadists in Syria. A journalist by profession, the opposition party's deputy leader has long been a thorn in Erdogan's side.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

 

10-07-2017 | 14:25


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