Tens of thousands mark Republic Day with alternative rally in Ankara
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
DHA PhotoWith a series of official ceremonies being customarily held to mark the 90th anniversary of foundation of the Republic of Turkey at different points across the capital city, tens of thousands of people gathered in Tandoğan Square for an alternative celebration.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Workers’ Party (İP) held a joint rally along with a number of civil society organizations including the Turkey Youth Union (TGB) and the Kemalist Thought Association (ADD) in order to mark the day in Tandoğan Square, which is a couple of hundreds of meters away from Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.
Anıtkabir experienced one of its most crowded days as people carrying Turkish flags and posters of Atatürk flocked to the mausoleum before and after the celebrations.
Unity among opposition
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu delivered a speech at the rally, giving a message of unity among opposition parties. “We will not split, we will be together. We will exalt the Republic by joining forces,” he said.
He once again labeled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a “dictator,” vowing that “Republicans and revolutionists will not allow any dictator to rule Turkey. Our young people brought a dictator to his knees with the Gezi resistance. They took a dictator down a peg.”
Throughout Kılıçdaroğlu’s speech, onlookers enthusiastically chanted slogans such as “Government, resign,” “We are the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal” and “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism.”
İP Deputy Chairman Hasan Basri Özbey also delivered a speech at the gathering. Demonstrators also chanted slogans such as “Either independence or death; fully independent Turkey,” “The AKP will fall, not the Republic,” and “We will win with resistance.”
They also chanted the student oath in unison, in apparent protest against the government’s recent move to abolish the oath, which used to be obligatory for primary school students to recite every morning. The student oath starts with the words, “I’m Turkish, I’m righteous, I’m hardworking,” and ends with the phrase, “How happy is the one who says ‘I am a Turk.’”
People at the rally expressed solidarity with the Gezi Park unrest, chanting the motto of demonstrations: “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance.” Six slain Gezi protestors were also commemorated, with all people at the rally shouting “here” when their names were announced.
The Republic Day was celebrated in Istanbul with
the firework display at the Bosphorus, which has
become a traditionnal feature in the last years.
Demonstrators also chanted the popular slogan “This is just the beginning, we will continue our struggle,” which was also chanted over the weekend at the congress of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), an umbrella party of leftist-Kurdish alliance.
President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also paid their respects to Atatürk, as they visited Anıtkabir.
President Gül accepted greetings from senior civilian and military leaders at the presidential palace with the attendance of Çiçek, Erdoğan, Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli, as well as Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel.
CHP Zonguldak deputy Mehmet Haberal, who was recently released from prison and took his parliamentary oath in early October, two years after he was elected as a lawmaker, was also present at the palace. Later in the day, Gül, Çiçek, Erdoğan, Kılıçdaroğlu and Özel, along with several members of the Cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, and the chiefs of the top courts, attended an official parade at the Atatürk Cultural Center. Gül was set to host a reception at the presidential palace in the evening.