Huge crowd rallies in İstanbul after 'justice march'

Party officials said more than a million people attended the closing rally
Sunday, 09 July 2017 18:04

Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu launched the 450-kilometer march from Ankara to İstanbul. The march led by CHP set out from Ankara on June 15, one day after CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in jail for allegedly leaking footage to an opposition newspaper suggesting that Turkey’s intelligence service had smuggled weapons to jihadist in Syria.

Waving Turkish flags and banners emblazoned with the word "Justice" (Adalet) in red and white, they gathered to listen to Kılıçdaroğlu, speak at the end of the march.

"We walked for the non-existent justice. We walked for the rights of the oppressed, for the imprisoned lawmakers, the jailed journalists... We walked for the academics who were thrown out of universities," Kılıçdaroğlu said addressing the rally.

"No one should think the end of this march is the end. This march was our first step. July 9 is a new step. July 9 is a new climate. July 9 is a new history," he said.

Kılıçdaroglu called for an end to a state of emergency that was declared following the failed coup and which has allowed the government to rule by decrees, with minimal input from parliament.

"We want the state of emergency to be removed and for Turkey to normalise. We want politics kept out of the judiciary, the (army) barracks and of mosques. We want a neutral and independent justice. We want a Turkey where journalists are not jailed," he said.

He also called on judges and prosecutors to act independently and according to their "conscience" instead of in line with the wishes of "the palace", a reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Party officials said more than a million people attended the closing rally. Organisers said the weeklong event expressed "a collective, nonpartisan desire for an independent and fair judicial system" that they claim is lacking in Turkey.

No party flags or slogans were allowed during the on the march.

President Erdoğan criticised Kılıçdaroğlu when he launched his protest, saying justice should be sought in parliament, not on the street. He likened the protesters to those who carried out the attempted coup, saying they could face charges.

But the march and rally have been allowed to go ahead, despite the state of emergency. İstanbul Governor Vasip Şahin said 15,000 police officers have been dispatched for security.