CHP to rally as row over Republic Day ban grows

CHP to rally as row over Republic Day ban grows

CHP to rally as row over Republic Day ban grows

This 2011 file photo shows citizens rallying to mark Republic Day on Istanbul’s busy Bağdat Avenue. A ban has fueled the debate on this year’s celebrations. Hürriyet photo

A debate over public celebrations of Oct. 29 Republic Day heated up yesterday as parties and NGOs announced plans to mark the day in front of Turkey’s first Parliament in Ankara despite a decision by the local governor to ban a rally at the location.

“Which ministry, which governor could say, ‘I’m banning this [rally]?’ The CHP [Republican People’s Party] organizations in Turkey will celebrate the foundation of the Republic with people in a glorious way while being open to all other political parties that wish to participate. We will not ask permission from any authority for this celebration. If there’s a notice banning the celebration, we will tear it down and throw it away,” CHP deputy chair Gökhan Günaydın told reporters at a press conference at the CHP headquarters yesterday, noting that the party lawmakers and members will attend the gathering under all circumstances.

“In the event of an unpermitted meeting and rally [for Oct. 29], legal action will be launched against participants in addition to the organizers of the meeting,” the Ankara Governor’s Office said in a statement released Oct. 22.

NGOs led by the Kemalist Thought Association (ADD) and the Turkey Youth Union (TGB) had called on people to gather in front of the old Parliament building in Ankara’s Ulus neighborhood to mark the holiday, but the governor’s office denied permission for the “People’s Meeting for the Country and the Republic,” arguing that the old Parliament was not an appropriate venue for gathering.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Secretary-General İsmet Büyükataman took aim at the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), saying the ban revealed the AKP’s mental problems.

“The AKP revealed that it has problems with Republican values by making some amendments about national days and celebrations. The AKP shows an inexplicable approach as if they are settling scores with Republican values and they are taking revenge on the Republic,” Büyükataman said yesterday while calling on the Ankara governor to review his decision on the ban.

Günaydın rebuffed the prohibition, indicating that the relevant clauses of the Constitution did not require citizens to obtain permission from authorities to conduct a democratic march.

“Turkey strongly maintains the will which established its Republic. People will celebrate the Republic however and wherever they want. We will define all the excuses and pretexts aimed against this as anti-Republican and respond [appropriately]. We will once more show this to Turkey,” Günaydın said.
ADD Chair Tansel Çölaşan also slammed the restrictions, saying they would gather in front of the old legislature “to shout that the Republic will not be destroyed.”

“The government’s duty is not to put a ban on celebrating national holidays, it is to provide security to the people. We will be in front of the old Parliament to shout that the homeland and Republic will not be destroyed,” Çölaşan said in a statement released yesterday.