As a “March of Justice” launched by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on June 15 in Ankara reached İstanbul on Sunday, its 25th day, Kılıçdaroğlu spoke to thousands gathered in Maltepe and said the march was the first step.
Kılıçdaroğlu, who addressed march supporters during a “Justice Rally” held to mark the completion of the march, said: “We have ended our march, which we started on the morning of June 15 in Ankara’s Güven Park, in Maltepe. Nobody should think this march is an ending; it’s a first step. July 9 is a new day, July 9 is a new birth.”
Kılıçdaroğlu and march supporters crossed the Istanbul provincial border on Friday. Kılıçdaroğlu, who walked two kilometers with CHP deputies and a group of participants but continued on alone for the final kilometer met the crowd at the Maltepe rally area.
Calling on supporters of the March of Justice not to carry any party flags, Kılıçdaroğlu said, “No one should forget, they thought we would create an uproar and break things down. We made the most peaceful march of the world. Even the nose of one fellow citizen did not bleed. Thanks to 80 million craving justice.”
“We will be breaking down the walls of fear,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, pledging to keep challenging the crackdown launched by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) after a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
The CHP leader called on the government to comply with a 10-item list of demands. “Reveal the political leg of the coup attempt, give Parliament back its authority, lift the state of emergency declared on July 20, 2016, release journalists from prison, restore the independence of Turkey’s courts and put an end to the civil death of state of emergency victims,” were among Kılıçdaroğlu’s 10 demands.
Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) Chairman Erol Bilecik on Sunday expressed support for the CHP leader’s call for justice in Turkey.
“Very simple, very clear and very innocent. Moreover, it is more influential when it is mentioned in lower case. Justice for all without naming any political party,” said Bilecik in a Twitter message posted following Kılıçdaroğlu’s speech.
Participation in the march has been on the rise, especially since the group reached İstanbul.
Some 215,000 people participated in the first part of the walk on Saturday.
İstanbul Governor Vasip Şahin said on Sunday that 15,000 police officers would be on duty for the rally.
The March of Justice from Ankara to İstanbul was initiated in protest of the arrest of CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for leaking information for a report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting weapons to jihadists in Syria.
Berberoğlu has been held in Maltepe Prison since June 14.
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced on Friday that at least 50,504 people have been arrested and 168,801 have been the subject of legal proceedings.
About 150,000 state workers including teachers, judges and soldiers, have been dismissed or suspended.
The government has been targeting the march on the grounds that it has been disrupting traffic. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also recently accused the marchers of standing by terrorist organizations.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Friday claimed that the march had reached its objective and called on the CHP to end it.