12.1 C
Frankfurt am Main

Thousands attend opposition rally in İstanbul to support mayor facing prison sentence, political ban

Must read

Thousands of people gathered outside the İstanbul municipal building for a second day on Thursday to protest a recent verdict that could see Ekrem İmamoğlu, the city’s popular mayor, ousted from office and prevented from running in the 2023 elections, local media reports said.

A Turkish court on Wednesday handed down a prison sentence of more than two years and imposed a political ban on İmamoğlu, a key opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a politically charged trial for him allegedly insulting members of Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK).

The sentencing and the political ban must be confirmed by an appeals court.

Opposition parties argue that the mayor’s prosecution and trial were an attempt to eliminate a key opponent to Erdoğan, under whose increasingly authoritarian rule they question the independence of the judiciary.

In addition to İmamoğlu, Thursday’s rally saw the participation of the leaders or representatives of six Turkish opposition parties in the “Table of Six” bloc, which are the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the İYİ (Good) Party, the Felicity Party (SP), the Future Party (GP), the Democrat Party (DP) and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA).

İmamoğlu, who was the first to address the crowd at the event, called “The nation claims its will,” underlined that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had again attempted to “invalidate the national will” by trying to have him barred from politics.

He was referring to the mayoral elections of March 2019 when he secured a victory for the Turkish opposition as the CHP candidate for İstanbul by defeating the ruling party nominee by a narrow margin. He briefly became the new İstanbul mayor until the country’s election authority canceled the results on the grounds of alleged irregularities and announced a new election in June, which he won by a landslide.

“It’s presumptuous to oust a person elected by the people’s vote,” the mayor said, adding that the government pays no regard to such things as law, ethics or religion and that İstanbulites, therefore, are standing up for “democracy and freedom, rights, law and justice.”

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also gave a speech in which he emphasized the importance of restoring justice, which he described as one of Turkey’s main problems.

Saying that the verdict against İmamoğlu was “unacceptable” and promising to stand behind him, Kılıçdaroğlu told the crowd not to lose hope since they would come to power after the 2023 elections.

“I don’t accept what happened. I reject this injustice,” DEVA leader Ali Babacan also said, referring to İmamoğlu’s trial, and added that in the next year’s elections the people would be making a choice between fear and hope, hunger and wealth, oppression and freedom and autocracy and democracy.

GP leader Ahmet Davutoğlu also underlined that the opposition bloc not only aims to protect İmamoğlu’s rightfully deserved position as the İstanbul mayor, but all fundamental rights.

“Yesterday was a dark day for the Turkish judiciary. We have an election ahead of us. This is not a change of power; this is choosing freedoms over prohibitions,” he added.

The İstanbul mayor was tried for a speech in which he said those who annulled the initial 2019 vote were “fools.” However, İmamoğlu said at the first hearing in January that his remarks, which were in response to a question from a reporter, were not aimed at the YSK officials but at Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who in an earlier statement used the same word against him.

Liked it? Take a second to support Turkish Minute on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!
More News
Latest News