Turkey: boom opposition march, Erdogan prepares reaction

Kilicdaroglu meets jailed MP who inspired 'justice march'

11 July, 12:58

    1.5 million people attended the 'march for justice' in Turkey according to organizers 1.5 million people attended the 'march for justice' in Turkey according to organizers

    (by Cristoforo Spinella)

    ISTANBUL - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is preparing his moves in the aftermath of the ''rebirth'' of the Turkish opposition, as it was described by its leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in front of hundreds of thousands of supporters who gathered in Istanbul. Although it was ignored by state-run and pro-government media, the largest protest since Gezi Park appears to be destined to open a new season in Turkish politics. While the number of participants of the Maltepe gathering is still being debated - the 1.5 million participants estimated by organizers was backed by estimates of the national chambers of engineers - Erdogan has challenged demonstrators.

    Over the past few hours, the government has released the program of commemorations for the failed coup last July 15. The week will be packed with events - a response by the president to the large crowds who attended the 430-km 'march for justice'.

    The events will culminate with a counter-march of 'national unity' on Saturday on the Bosphorus bridge, which was re-named the July 15 Martyrs' bridge after the failed coup.

    The event, which will follow special prayer ceremonies Friday in mosques across Turkey, will give Erdogan the opportunity of embracing supporters who took part in post-coup events last summer and who will be mobilized also with the symbolic resumption of the ''guards of democracy''.

    The president vies to curb renewed enthusiasm for the opposition by occupying squares and airtime on television.

    However, the opposition is trying to invest in Sunday's demonstration. Yesterday, Kilicdaroglu visited in prison his party's MP Enis Berberoglu, whose arrest on June 14 led to the march from Ankara to Istanbul.

    The first lawmaker of Social Democratic party Chp to be arrested - as already occurred to a dozen of Kurdish HDP lawmakers - Berberoglu was sentenced to 25 years in jail by a court of first instance on charges that he was the source of a scoop by the Cumhuriyet daily on the weapons being sent to Syria aboard trucks of Turkish intelligence services.

    The detentions were decided ''unfairly'' and are causing ''deep wounds in the conscience of society'', Kilicdaroglu commented outside the jail, launching a new message of confidence: ''There is a saying: justice walks slowly, it walks little, but in the end it always reaches its objective''.

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