Turkey’s Justice March nears finish line

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ISTANBUL: Only a few days remain until the end of one of the most memorable protest events in Turkish history.
The Justice March, which started with a few hundred people on the road from the capital Ankara to Istanbul on June 15, has swelled to more than 20,000 participants, and has received significant media coverage.
Holding a banner and wearing a hat printed with “Adalet” (Justice), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of Turkey’s secular main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), leads the 450-km march, sometimes in the blazing sun and sometimes under heavy rain.
The catalyst to this unconventional march was the prison term given to his deputy Enis Berberoglu for espionage on July 9.
But it also decries the perceived lack of justice in the judicial system, alleged irregularities in the recent referendum and the government crackdown on dissidents.
A delegation from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), whose co-leaders have been in prison since last year, are also participating in the march.
Even Turkey’s three major football fan clubs are attending. In Istanbul, a million supporters are expected to greet the marchers.
Canan Gullu, president of the Ankara-based Federation of Turkish Women’s Associations, walked for 14 km with other women’s rights advocates to highlight their demands and concerns.
“I joined the march for all people in search of justice for women, who are increasingly subject to abuse, violence and rape in Turkey,” Gullu told Arab News.
“We, as women of Turkey, claim our rights that are covered by the laws but aren’t implemented adequately.”
The march, expected to reach the finish line on July 9, is likened to Mahatma Gandhi’s famous Salt March against British colonial rule in India.
Dr. Emre Erdogan, founder and director of the Infakto Research Workshop in Istanbul, said the movement has succeeded in attracting public attention as even government-controlled media, which usually ignores the opposition, has given it significant coverage.
“However, Kilicdaroglu failed to attract the sympathy of supporters of the ruling AK Party,” Erdogan told Arab News.
The government “is framing the march as a sign of support for the putschists,” he added, referring to last year’s failed coup attempt.
“The majority of the AK Party camp easily buys this rhetoric, and reproduces it to strengthen their positions in public debates.”
Despite optimism in the pro-CHP camp, the march is merely consolidating prior political positions, Erdogan said.
Kader Sevinc, CHP representative to the EU, said the march will solidify the opposition across party lines.
“In Turkey, we need to unify all those supporting fundamental rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the country’s future as a European democracy, and begin the journey of progress and justice with the elections in 2019,” Sevinc told Arab News.
“The march should motivate and enable the CHP to connect with more people,” she added.
“At the end of this process started by the Justice March, the democracy story we have been building with our fellow citizens will be an important contribution to Europe.”
The march is attracting a lot of attention across the continent, especially in Brussels, Sevinc said.
“The main take is that the march is a major progressive effort by the main opposition to protest the injustices of the Turkish judiciary,” she added.
The march should be used as an opportunity for Europe to engage much more with Turkey in support of the rule of law, Sevinc said.
Several AKP lawmakers contacted by Arab News declined to comment about the march.

ISTANBUL: Only a few days remain until the end of one of the most memorable protest events in Turkish history.
The Justice March, which started with a few hundred people on the road from the capital Ankara to Istanbul on June 15, has swelled to more than 20,000 participants, and has received significant media coverage.
Holding a banner and wearing a hat printed with “Adalet” (Justice), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of Turkey’s secular main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), leads the 450-km march, sometimes in the blazing sun and sometimes under heavy rain.
The catalyst to this unconventional march was the prison term given to his deputy Enis Berberoglu for espionage on July 9.
But it also decries the perceived lack of justice in the judicial system, alleged irregularities in the recent referendum and the government crackdown on dissidents.
A delegation from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), whose co-leaders have been in prison since last year, are also participating in the march.
Even Turkey’s three major football fan clubs are attending. In Istanbul, a million supporters are expected to greet the marchers.
Canan Gullu, president of the Ankara-based Federation of Turkish Women’s Associations, walked for 14 km with other women’s rights advocates to highlight their demands and concerns.
“I joined the march for all people in search of justice for women, who are increasingly subject to abuse, violence and rape in Turkey,” Gullu told Arab News.
“We, as women of Turkey, claim our rights that are covered by the laws but aren’t implemented adequately.”
The march, expected to reach the finish line on July 9, is likened to Mahatma Gandhi’s famous Salt March against British colonial rule in India.
Dr. Emre Erdogan, founder and director of the Infakto Research Workshop in Istanbul, said the movement has succeeded in attracting public attention as even government-controlled media, which usually ignores the opposition, has given it significant coverage.
“However, Kilicdaroglu failed to attract the sympathy of supporters of the ruling AK Party,” Erdogan told Arab News.
The government “is framing the march as a sign of support for the putschists,” he added, referring to last year’s failed coup attempt.
“The majority of the AK Party camp easily buys this rhetoric, and reproduces it to strengthen their positions in public debates.”
Despite optimism in the pro-CHP camp, the march is merely consolidating prior political positions, Erdogan said.
Kader Sevinc, CHP representative to the EU, said the march will solidify the opposition across party lines.
“In Turkey, we need to unify all those supporting fundamental rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the country’s future as a European democracy, and begin the journey of progress and justice with the elections in 2019,” Sevinc told Arab News.
“The march should motivate and enable the CHP to connect with more people,” she added.
“At the end of this process started by the Justice March, the democracy story we have been building with our fellow citizens will be an important contribution to Europe.”
The march is attracting a lot of attention across the continent, especially in Brussels, Sevinc said.
“The main take is that the march is a major progressive effort by the main opposition to protest the injustices of the Turkish judiciary,” she added.
The march should be used as an opportunity for Europe to engage much more with Turkey in support of the rule of law, Sevinc said.
Several AKP lawmakers contacted by Arab News declined to comment about the march.



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