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POLITICS > Crowd sidesteps police, walks toward Anıtkabir

ISTANBUL

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Crowds gathered in Ulus Square for banned Republic Day celebrations began walking toward Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Atatürk after police barriers were upheld.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu commented on the ongoing events before his departure to Istanbul.

“These people had only Turkish flags in their hands, but the state had police and pepper gas. Why? Are we waging war? What can be as natural as celebrating Republic Day? Our ancestors constructed the Republic with blood and tears,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu went on to criticize the government’s actions in his speech. “Has this government read the Amasya Agreement [signed June 22, 1919]? There it says sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the people. Do they know the meaning of this? A republican government is a government that gives importance to the people. Why then were the people punished today? What have they done? Nothing,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Kılıçdaroğlu mentioned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s earlier statements that people were disconnected from holidays. “Wasn't he saying celebration won't be done in stadiums? There is no need to get permission to celebrate a holiday.”  

“I thank all of my fellow citizens who have celebrated this day with flags in their hands," Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Groups looking to celebrate the Republic Day holiday at the first Parliament Assembly building, an act banned by the Ankara governorship, have gathered in Ulus Square.

Police attempted to disperse the crowd with pepper gas and sprayed pressurized water on the broadcasting vehicles of reporters covering the event, daily Hürriyet has reported.

The struggle between the crowd and police continues.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu arrived to Ulus Square following the official ceremony in Anıtkabir. Kılıçdaroğlu had wanted to pass through security barriers, however, police forces refused to allow him through. He and his bodyguards were also subjected to pepper gas. There has reportedly been a struggle between Kılıçdaroğlu’s bodyguards and the security forces on hand.

Meanwhile, local gendarmerie forces stopped and searched numerous buses carrying crowds looking to participate in celebrations for the Oct. 29 National Republic Day holiday in the Turkish capital of Ankara earlier today.

Gendarmerie forces reportedly refused to allow 110 buses from entering the city due to security reasons. 

This year there have been angry reactions to the Ankara governorship’s ban on Republic Day celebrations.

However, a group of NGOs and the Republican People's Party (CHP) are planning to gather in front of the first Parliament Assembly building for celebrations.

Strict security preventions have been taken throughout the city where 5,000 police officers are on duty today.

October/29/2012

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