Turkey’s secular Kemalist opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the CHP has led a 450-kilometer 25-day march from Ankara to Istanbul.
The March for Justice (Adalet in Turkish) ended up attracting 110,000 people according to the Turkish government while some opposition members put the figure at over a million people.
The march continued to gain followers on the long road to Istanbul.
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) July 8, 2017
Kilicdaroglu stated that in spite of being the leader of Turkey’s once governing Kemalist CHP, he wanted the event to be non-partisan.
— Taylan 🐃 (@taylannow) July 9, 2017
“When we hold this rally, I do not want anything except the Turkish flag, the ‘justice banner’ and the poster of Ataturk I do not want the CHP’s political flag with six arrows. We all just want justice. We live under our national flag together. We do not consider it suitable for those to carry other flags. We also consider those carrying other flags as provocateurs”.
— Ridda Taniwal (@RiddaTaniwal) July 9, 2017
The key aims of the demonstration were to raise awareness for the plight of imprisoned journalist, opposition activists and others who have faced difficulties after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s large scale purges of Turkey’s judiciary, civil service and education sector.
Kilicdaroglu defined the aims of the march in the following way,
“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”.
He went on to describe Erdogan’s rule in the following way,
“The era we live in is a dictatorship…We will be breaking down the walls of fear”.
The peaceful and non-partisan nature of the demonstration was capped off with Kilicdaroglu releasing a dove of peace after his speech.
— Chris Koseloglou (@chriskose) July 9, 2017
In spite of the popularity of the march and its important message of peace, justice and democracy, few western mainstream media outlets have given it any coverage in spite of being led by the leading long time opposition leader in Turkey and long time elected official in Turkey’s Parliament.
— harry van heerden (@HAvanHeerden) July 9, 2017
By contrast, western mainstream media often gives a disproportionally high amount of converge to the the fringe activist of Russia’s extremist far-right Alexei Navalny, a man who has never been elected to any office or held any professional political office in Russia.
The protest movement in Turkey has been criticised by an angry Erdogan of having ties to the outlawed Islamist movement of wanted terrorist Fethullah Gulen. He also accused protest organisers of having links to the outlawed Kurdish PKK.
The reality is that neither of this outrageous accusations are true. The protest was dominated by secular Kemalists, not Islamists nor Kurdish nationalists.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu promised that the march was only “the first step” in what he seeks for an invigorated secular opposition in Turkey.