CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu says determined to launch more street protests

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Leader of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu walks with a placard reading 'Justice' during a protest march in Ankara on June 15, 2017, after CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in jail for handing secret information to a newspaper. Thousands of supporters from Turkey's main opposition party took to the streets of Ankara on Thursday to protest the jailing of one of its MPs, vowing to march to his jail in Istanbul. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who completed a 25-day-long “March of Justice” from Ankara to İstanbul on July 9 in protest of the arrest of a party deputy in June, has said he is planning to organize more street protests.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks came during an interview with British daily The Times on Monday, two days after the first anniversary of a botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016 which was commemorated across Turkey mainly by supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Kılıçdaroğlu told The Times that he was prepared to carry out more street protests as he readied his party’s electoral challenge to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“I am not afraid. There is a serious lack of democracy in this country [and] someone needs to fight against this,” he said. “Our main goal now is to drag Erdoğan down from his palace. We are determined to do this.”

The March of Justice was initiated by Kılıçdaroğlu on June 15 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.

President Erdoğan accused the marchers of standing by terrorist organizations.

Responding to Erdoğan, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “I don’t accept the label ‘terrorist,’ in fact I laugh at it. They can’t cope with the fact that I have a free spirit. If someone comes from a culture that isn’t democratic, then they can call my march a ‘terrorist march’.”

A “Justice Rally,” which was attended by around 2 million supporters, was held in İstanbul’s Maltepe district to mark the end of the March of Justice on July 9.

The CHP leader also called on the government to comply with a 10-item list of demands he announced during the rally.

“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.

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