The “March for Justice” is at its sixteenth day. This demonstration is led by the leader of the Turkish Republican Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu, despite the summer temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.
480 km on foot to go from Ankara to the Maltepe Prison in Istanbul, where Enis Berberoglu is incarcerated since last June 14th.
THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN is accused of sending to the newspaper Cuhmuriyet photos showing the shipment of Turkish weapons into Syria through trains operated by the Turkish intelligence services (MIT), a fact long denied by the government in power.
Thousands of marchers are in this trek, devoid of symbols of political parties and groups, including prominent members of civil society like the Attorney Association of Izmir, the national medical union, in addition to the families of those who lost their lives during the Gezi Park protests in 2013.
Other important personalities outside the CHP sphere are also taking part, like Abdullatif Sener, a founding member of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), who has been accused of having politicized the judicial system of the country and to have destroyed its independence thanks to the purges initiated after the attempted coup of July 2016.
ALONG THE PATH, there have been actions in solidarity with professor Nuriye Gulmen and teacher Semih Ozakca, jailed after protesting against the loss of jobs who are on an indefinite hunger strike. “With the media completely under the control of the government, we have to take the streets back,” said Kilicdaroglu. In fact, the opposition newspapers and television stations are silent, on their pages and screens there are no news about the march.
This journey to Istanbul has some obstacles, like the tons of manure discharged on the road by unknown citizens opposed to the initiative.
Much more worrying, however, is the cartridge case found along the roadside near Duzce.
KILICDAROGLU was keen to stress that “the march will continue with joy and no one can prevent it. We are ready to react to any provocation and repression.”
A leaflet being passed around lists the rules of participation in the march. It specifically asks participants not to respond to provocations if not applauding.
Twenty-five CHP congresspeople carry out security and control operations, while twelve plainclothes police officers watch over the safety of the CHP leader.
A BARRAGE AGAINST THE MARCH came from the AKP ruling party, according to which the CHP is only helping the subversive work of imam Gulen, Erdogan’s former ally and now enemy number one, held responsible for the attempted coup.
The Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has called the march an event “that separatists and Gulen followers are applauding.” Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci was even harsher; according to Cuhmuriyet, he would have explicitly called march participants terrorists, a label that in Turkey today throws open the prison doors.
THE HEAVIEST WORDS came from Erdogan, who said that “the coup soldiers had chariots and hunting, Kilicdaroglu has his march.”
The president insists on the illegality of the initiative and warned: “Do not be surprised if tomorrow you will be held accountable for it in court.”
The leftist party HDP has expressed its sympathy to the march, despite being the most targeted in the wave of arrests among congresspeople, ironically, thanks to the annulment of parliamentary immunity voted by the CHP itself.
THE HDP ALSO INVITED to continue the march to Edirne, where the leader Selahattin Demirtas is being held.
This proposal has not yet warmed the hearts of the organizers, who limited themselves to make supportive statements about the incarcerated HDP congresspeople. Meanwhile Berberoglu’s lawyers said they will appeal directly to the Constitutional Court.