Chair of Turkey’s main opposition party CHP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, arrived in Maltepe at around 18:00 on Sunday (July 9) to greet a crowd of millions of people that had gathered to mark the final rally of the Justice March of the opposition, which was started in Ankara on June 15 and ended in İstanbul today.
69 year old Kılıçdaroğlu walked over 420 kilometers - rain or shine - in 24 days, breaking the record of Salt March led by India's Gandhi, whom the main opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu have been likened to because of both his looks and his personality.
Starting his speech in Maltepe by thanking people who physically joined the march or supported it through various means, Kılıçdaroğlu said ‘this is only the first step’, adding: “Everyone should know that July 9 is a new step and a new rise in Turkey. We have held the most peaceful demonstration of the world. Some thought that we were going to hit and break things around. Why have we marched? We have marched because of the non-existence of justice and marched for the rights of the innocent; and, for the jailed lawmakers and journalists.”
“We have completed our march - which we had started in Ankara’s Güvenpark in morning hours of June 15 - in Maltepe of İstanbul. But nobody should think that this march is an end. This march is our first step”, Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Extending his special appreciation for those who walked all along, Kılıçdaroğlu also commemorated Hasan Tatlı, who lost his life as a result of a heart attack during the earlier days of the march. ‘His two daughters joined the march at the first phase and fulfilled their father’s will’, he said.
'We have marched because of the non-existence of justice'
As people continued chanting ‘rights, law, justice’, Kılıçdaroğlu said, ‘Let me answer the question of why we have marched’, and he continued to say: “We have marched because of the non-existence of justice! We have marched for the rights of the oppressed; for the lawmakers in prison; and, for the detained journalists…We have marched for the academics kicked out of universities… We have marched for those dismissed from their positions in public institutions. And, we have marched for child workers; farmers and villagers; jailed soldiers and lynched soldiers. We have marched because we are against the one-man regime and we are against FETÖ. We have marched because we are against terrorist groups and because the judiciary in the country is under the command of those in power… We have marched for our women who have been subjected to violence; and, we have marched for our martyrs from Mavi Marmara. We’ve marched for our sister Nuriye and brother Semih. We’ve marched for the workers who work in fear because of lack of safety at workplaces… We’ve also marched for our 249 martyrs of coup attempt and we’ve marched for the political power behind that coup attempt to be revealed… Bottom line is that we’ve marched for justice in this country!”
Citing quotes on concept of justice said by famous thinkers and poets such as Yunus Emre, Confucius, and Sadi, Kılıçdaroğlu also gave reference to Koran and said: “The Koran also commands ruling to be done in justice and by those capable of assuring justice".
Vowing to avoid doing politics based on references to ethnicity or religious belief, Kılıçdaroğlu said politics ‘should be a means to bring unity among members of the society, not a tool to divide them’.
Deeming the decleration of state of emergency and the decrees passed under it since July 20 as the ‘actual coup’, Kılıçdaroğlu noted that legal decisions have been made with the order from the Presidential Palace and demanded for the state of emergency to be ended.
'Hope is contagious'
“From here, I call on all judges and prosecutors. Protecting justice is your duty as much as it is mine. Stand up straight with dignity; listen to your conscious and act accordingly. If a command is given from the Palace, push it aside”, he said.
With further encouraging statements, Kılıçdaroğlu also said ‘the march has enabled the public to get rid of the fears that have built up and given them hope again’.
“And, as you know, hope is contagious. If I am hopeful, my friend next to me also gets hopeful. If İstanbul is hopeful, Hakkari also gets hopeful”, he said.
Before going on to list his 10 item manifesto, Kılıçdaroğlu listed the demands of the ‘justice seekers’ as the following: for state of emergency to be lifted; for politics to be removed from courts, barracks, and the mosques; for journalists to be released; for universities to be freed; for the political power behind the coup attempt to revealed; for the democratic parliamentary system to be active again; for real equality between men and women to be achieved; for youth to be embraced rather than considered as potential criminals; and, for all anti-democratic practices to be ended.
“We want a Turkey where people’s thoughts are not silenced”, he pressed.
The 10 item manifesto
The 10 item manifesto of the main opposition leader said:
“1) We condemn the July 15 coup attempt openly. For the sake of the sacred memory of our 249 martyrs and for our 2301 veterans (of coup attempt), the political power behind the FETÖ must be revealed and the actual coup plotters must be brought to justice;
2) The state of emergency that was enacted by the ruling party on July 20 – which we call the ‘civil coup’ – led for the legislative, executive, and judicial branches to be controlled under one power. State of emergency must be lifted as soon as possible;
3) Handing over justice system to the hands of the politicians is betrayel of democracy. Practices in breach of human rights must be ended;
4) All regulations restricting access to legal remedy and social rights by victims of state of emergency laws must be brought to an end;
5) Academics who do not have ties with FETÖ but who have been dismissed simply because of their opposition to the government must be reinstated to their positions and the jailed lawmakers must be released;
6) Journalists who have been detained just because they were doing their jobs must be released;
7) The constitutional changes that were brought about under state of emergency law and through usage (by the ruling party) of all state sources are illegitimate. The referendum was an ‘unstamped’ referendum! Turkey cannot – and should not - be run under an illegitimate constitution;
8) The guardianship over the democratic parlimentarian system must be lifted. And, erosion of principle of secularism in education must be stopped;
9) Injustices take place not in only legal fields but in all fields of life. A common will must be developed against social problems regarding poverty, widespread violence, and terror. In regards to violation of women’s rights – which is the worst of injustices experienced in social life today -, discrimination must be eliminated;
10) The aggressive foreign policy led by the ruling party lately has also deepened the internal problems of our coutnry. A return to a foreign policy that approaches all people of Turkey in brotherhood must be ensured.
Kılıçdaroğlu ended his speech by saying ‘the wall of fear has now been demolished’ and vowed to ‘not stop the fight for justice until the demands listed in the manifesto are met’.
(Writing and translation by Burcu Gündoğan)
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