Vastavam web: The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party was today to address a mass rally in Istanbul at the culmination of an almost month-long march, in a rare challenge to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), launched an unprecedented 450-kilometre trek on June 15 from Ankara to Istanbul in protest the arrest of one of his MPs.Tens of thousands of people are expected to show up for the rally, which could be one of the biggest opposition protests seen in Istanbul since the mass 2013 demonstrations against Erdogan’s rule sparked by the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park in the city.
The CHP leader reached the outskirts of Istanbul on Friday and was joined by tens of thousands forming a vast file along the road despite blistering heat. He was due today from 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) to walk the final three kilometres alone before joining the waiting crowds at a vast meeting space in the Istanbul district of Maltepe.If there are grave injustices and illegalities in your country and if your country’s courts are incapable of delivering justice, you will stand up and hit the road,” he said in a statement to AFP.Kilicdaroglu launched the march from Ankara after his party’s lawmaker Enis Berberoglu, a former journalist, was sentenced to 25 years in jail on charges of leaking classified information to a newspaper.
Kilicdaroglu has said he wants no party insignia, only “Justice” slogans and pictures of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at the Maltepe rally. Preparations were in full swing for the rally, with a vast stage set up with the Turkish word “Adalet” (Justice) plastered in giant letters across the top.
About 50,000 people have been arrested under Turkey’s state of emergency imposed after last July’s failed coup and another 100,000 have lost their jobs, including teachers, judges, soldiers and police officers.In the latest crackdown, Turkish police on Wednesday detained Amnesty International’s Turkey director and other activists on charges of membership in a terror group sparking a new uproar among rights advocates.