A coalition of British Turkish political and community activists which spearheaded the “No to an executive presidency in Turkey” referendum campaign that was backed by over 80% of Turkish voters in Britain in April, is now calling on the same citizens to be part of the UK leg of the March for Justice [Adalet Yürüyüşü].
The UK ‘March for Justice’ will take place in North London on the evening of Thursday, 29 June. Assembling at 6.30pm, marchers will set off from Manor House, proceeding down Green Lanes to conclude in Wood Green. The details were announced at a press conference held at the CHP (Republican People’s Party) UK building, attended by representatives of the various groups involved.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu started the March for Justice on 15 June 2017 – a day after one of his MPs, Enis Berberoğlu, was given a 25-year sentence for espionage and revealing state secrets. The leader of the main opposition CHP set off from Güvenpark in Ankara to march 250 miles to Maltepe Prison in Istanbul, where Berberoğlu is being held. The walk is expected to take 23 days.
Berberoğlu is a former journalist who had stood trial after handing over footage to Cumhuriyet newspaper purportedly showing Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT loading weapons and ammunition intended for Syrian rebels in 2014. His lawyers are appealing the verdict. He is the first CHP politician to be jailed, joining over a dozen MPs from Turkey’s second largest opposition party HDP in prison, including the party’s co-leaders Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş.
A further 50,000 others have been arrested following the ruling AKP’s introduction of a state of emergency last summer. The government claimed these extensive powers were to go after suspects of the failed coup of 15 July 2016, but they have since been used to crack down on their opponents, including journalists, human rights activists, judges, and teachers, who stand accused of “supporting terrorism”.
Alongside the arrests, some 100,000 civil servants have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in the past year due to flimsy association with the coup attempt. They and their families are experiencing huge financial difficulties because of the stigma of being caught up in the coup plot, making them unemployable.
Property and other commercial assets belonging to those believed to have ties with Fetullah Gülen, who is suspected of masterminding the coup attempt, have also been seized and confiscated by the state without their owners being convicted of any crime, or proof of their businesses being used to fund criminal activity.
These events have created great unease inside Turkey and beyond, with the EU, USA and UN adding their voices to the concerns being expressed locally.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s peaceful march has brought the issue into sharp focus, capturing international media attention and the support of a large segment of the Turkish electorate and Diaspora. The 69-year-old politician, whose physical appearance bears a strong resemblance to India’s famed civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi, has been joined on his 250-mile trek by thousands of ordinary people all demanding the country’s justice system is free of political interference.
Those wanting to show solidarity with the March for Justice can join its London leg on Thursday. The organisers include CHP (UK), British Alevi Federation, and Day-Mer. In April, they had campaigned under the “Britain NO Platform” banner, but have recently rebranded as “Britain JUSTICE Platform” and hope to attract the same level of support.
The organisers have asked all those taking part to avoid bringing any flags or banners that promote political parties or other causes. All banners should simply bear the message: ADALET / JUSTICE.
Main photo by CHP MP Çetin Osman Budak/Twitter, 24 June 2017.