Main opposition CHP leader defies gov’t calls to end ‘justice march’
ANKARAMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu continued his “justice march” from Ankara to Istanbul on the sixth day on June 20, defying calls from the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to end the “illegal” action.
“He [President Erdoğan] said ‘you are walking with our blessing.’ That is something that Pharaohs would have said in history, and that now dictators say. I am supposedly living in a democratic country with constitutional rights. If somebody is saying my rights are subject to ‘blessing,’ I will simply remind them of his dictatorship,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on June 20 at a weekly parliamentary group meeting on the outskirts of Ankara.
His remarks came a day after Erdoğan accused him of trying to pressure the judiciary in the wake of CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu’s jailing on June 14 on espionage charges.
“The rulings belong to the judicial bodies. You have to respect the ruling of the judiciary,” Erdoğan said on June 19 at an iftar fast-breaking meal hosted by the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Women’s and Youth Branch.
He earlier described the march as “illegal” and said the CHP leader could only march “thanks to the blessing of our government.”
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also again called on Kılıçdaroğlu to end his march.
“Because he has been walking he has some mental and physical tiredness, so he has started to make contradictory statements,” Yıldırım told journalists returning from an official visit to Greece.
“I believe it is in his best interest to end this march. We need Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu, we do not want to see him being wasted on the roads,” he added.
The CHP leader is currently walking to Istanbul from the capital in protest at various rights violations, including the imprisonment of CHP Istanbul deputy Berberoğlu.
“I’m saying: ‘You’re a dictator,’” Kılıçdaroğlu said during June 20’s public parliamentary group meeting, addressing President Erdoğan’s warning to “respect judicial rulings.”
“The march that you have undertaken is under the blessing of the government. I’d even go further and say it is a favor,” Erdoğan had said on June 18.
Erdoğan quoted Article 138 of Turkey’s Constitution, which regulates legislative freedom, and accused Kılıçdaroğlu of violating the constitution by attempting to influence the judicial process.
“You refer to the constitution and the state of law, but does Article 138 of the constitution only apply to one group of people? Nobody can even make a suggestion or instruct [the judiciary], putting it under pressure,” Erdoğan said.
However, the CHP leader blasted President Erdoğan and read the related article aloud.
“No organ, authority, office or individual may give orders or instructions to courts or judges relating to the exercise of judicial power, send them circulars, or make recommendations or suggestions,” Kılıçdaroğlu read.
“I respect that article. And anyway I don’t even have such authority. This regulation was brought for those who hold power,” he added.
“I am making a call to the gentleman who reminded me of Article 138. If it is proven that you and your government have sent instructions and given orders to judges and courts, will you resign from your post like an honorable and respectable person?” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“I vow that if I cannot prove that, I will withdraw from politics as an honorable man,” he added.