Turkish opposition draws parallel between Tahrir coup and Gezi crackdown

Turkish opposition draws parallel between Tahrir coup and Gezi crackdown

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has drawn parallels between the unrest caused by the police intervention against protests during the Gezi Park unrest and the military coup against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s government. Pointing to what he called a “witch hunt” in Tahrir Square, Kılıçdaroğlu compared it to detentions of Gezi Park demonstrators.

“There, [at Tahrir Square] too, a witch hunt has begun. People’s homes are raided at dawn, why are they raided, because the youth wanted freedom,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a speech delivered ahead of a closed party assembly meeting held on July 5.

“If you are to raid someone’s home, go raid the home of whoever killed that young man in Kızılay Square,” referring to Ethem Sarısülük, who was shot dead by a police officer during Gezi protests in Ankara.

 Amid calling Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a “tyrant,” Kılıçdaroğlu affirmed that his party had been involved in the Gezi events for the good. “Rest assured, I can easily say that if it was not for our deputies, more blood would have been shed. That tyrant should pray for the CHP day and night,” he said, referring to the presence of CHP deputies at protests in a bid to prevent harsh police intervention against demonstrators.

Underlining that Egypt should not drift into civil war, Kılıçdaroğlu argued that every turbulence in Egypt would reflect on the Middle East.

“One of the fundamentals of democracy is reconciliation. If Morsi were to let the culture of reconciliation prevail, he would not have been confronted with such a picture in his country. ‘I do what I want, what I say is true’ he says. Tyrants would say this; those who come to power through elections would not say this,” in a veiled reference to Erdoğan’s oft-repeated statement that “the ballot box expresses the will of the people,” in response to criticism of his government’s policies, particularly in regards to their approach to the Gezi Park unrest.

“Now voting at the ballot box is not considered as democracy, now it is only a part of it. We call it participatory democracy. Ballot box democracy has ended, there is now participatory democracy,” he said, as he maintained that the understanding of democracy was a global and evolving concept and recalled that the leader who received the highest majority votes was Hitler and that nobody in this world accepted him as a democrat.

Another important remark Kılıçdaroğlu made was over the place of religion in democracies where he took the opportunity to slam Erdoğan.

“The Egypt event has brought another reality into the world agenda: There is no place in democracies for those who use religion as a tool for scoring in politics. It has brought up this reality: ‘No one should pick a spot for themselves between the God and the mortal, no political actor should locate oneself between the God and the mortal.’ This should be a lesson to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” he said.