Thousands attend campaign rally of Turkish President, PM in Istanbul

Thousands attend campaign rally of Turkish President, PM in Istanbul

Thousands attend campaign rally of Turkish President, PM in Istanbul

AA photo

Thousands of people attended a massive rally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım in Istanbul’s Yenikapı district on April 8. The rally, which was organized as a part of the “yes” campaign for the April 16 referendum on constitutional changes, reportedly hosted over a million people. 

In his speech, Erdoğan criticized the “controlled coup” remarks of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, saying that the comment made the souls of those killed on July 15,2016 failed coup attempt “lament.” 

Kılıçdaroğlu on April 3 said the coup attempt occurred within the knowledge of the government and was therefore a “controlled coup,” which prompted harsh responses from Erdoğan and government officials. 

The movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen is widely believed to have been behind the thwarted coup. 

Erdoğan also said he would not hesitate to approve restoring capital punistment after the April 16 referendum. 

“I will aprove it [capital punishment] if it passes from the parliament. I will unhesitantly approve it. Because we have no authority to forgive the killers of our martyrs. We can not do it like this,” he said. 

Those arriving at the meeting square arrived by boats, underground sea-tunnel Marmaray and metro, carrying Turkish flags and colorful posters in support of the “yes” campaign. 

Around 5,000 police officers were reportedly on duty to ensure safety and security during the grand meeting. Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 to decide whether to replace the current government system with an executive presidency with vastly enhanced powers for the president. 

The “yes” vote is endorsed by President Erdoğan, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the leadership of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), while the CHP and the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are campaigning for a “no” vote. Some 55.3 million Turkish people are expected to cast their votes on April 16.