Main opposition defies ‘provocation warning’ for Oct 29 rally

Main opposition defies ‘provocation warning’ for Oct 29 rally

Main opposition defies ‘provocation warning’ for Oct 29 rally

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu leaves Silivri Prison after visiting arrested deputies. DHA photo

The stakes are growing ahead of Oct. 29 Republic Day, with the prime minister and main opposition leader launching a war of words over the Ankara governor’s decision to ban a rally in front of the country’s first legislature.

“In line with the intelligence that it has received, the [Ankara] Governor’s Office did what it should have done,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters yesterday, suggesting the rally could become the scene of provocation.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, however, has upped the ante, vowing to attend the banned rally.

“As the CHP leader, I am choosing the difficult [option] of being with the public. If there is a cost to be paid, I’m ready to pay that cost there [at the rally],” he said.

“Is there democracy? Yes. Is there freedom? Yes. ‘Intelligence came and we are banning [the rally]. Is such an understanding possible?” Kılıçdaroğlu said, noting that he preferred to celebrate Republic Day with people at the rally rather than at official ceremonies and calling on citizens to gather in front of the old Parliament building with their flags on the morning of Oct. 29.

It is a natural right for the governor’s office to ban such a rally if it has received intelligence requiring such a ban, Erdoğan said, implying that the intelligence that the authorities had received might have indicated the probability of provocation during the rally.

Erdoğan also suggested organizing a rally despite the ban could be considered a “confirmation of the intelligence received by the governor’s office.”

Kılıçdaroğlu hinted that Erdoğan was behind the decision to ban the rally.

“Aren’t you the state? Are you taking precautions by banning [the event]?” he said. “A prime minister gets his power from democracy and freedoms [not from acting on intelligence]. If you want to be a respectable society, first you should bring freedom into democracy.”

Nongovernmental organizations 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 until 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.

“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.

Erdoğan called on people, including CHP executives, to attend official ceremonies at Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, before attending a parade at
Ankara’s Hippodrome.

“The nation will mingle with the state” during the ceremonies, the prime minister added.