CHP head quotes Voltaire in reply to criticisms over imprisoned journalists
Rifat Başaran – ANKARA
AA photoThe leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has quoted Voltaire, French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher, in his response to critics over his honoring of controversial journalists, saying he would defend the rights of imprisoned journalists even though he disagreed with their opinions.
Kılıçdaroğlu stirred controversy among party members after he named some jailed jour-nalists who were arrested after the July 15 coup attempt at a CHP rally in the southern province of Adana on Dec. 3.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” Kılıçda-roğlu said in quoting Voltaire in his party’s Central Executive Board (MYK), adding that he could not stay indifferent to journalists being imprisoned solely for expressing their views.
“Imprisoned journalists are not only Turkey’s, but the world’s problem,” he said.
The names that initially disturbed critics were jailed veteran journalists Nazlı Ilıcak, Mehmet Altan, Ahmet Altan, Şahin Alpay and Ali Bulaç, who had at the time supported the Ergenekon and “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) cases, which were allegedly trialed by Gülenist prosecutors in the judiciary. Kılıçdaroğlu also honored journalists from daily Cumhuriyet who were arrested last month.
Kılıçdaroğlu said he was aware of what those journalists had done in the past, and that they were previously in cooperation with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), but opposed their arrests because he “believed in law and democracy in Turkey.”
“Everyone knows the stance we took during the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases. Those names I called out at the rally were criticizing me back then,” he said.
In addition, Kılıçdaroğlu said some individuals were attempting to find links between the CHP and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), but said he would only “laugh at this.”