Seven in the morning at Gebze Barracks. Thousands of people seeking justice have breakfast. There is no trace of either fear or tiredness on their faces. Everyone is waiting for CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to set the twenty-third day rolling.
Eight o’ clock. The CHP leader receives me in his caravan for fifteen minutes after his breakfast. We have a brief chat two days before the Maltepe meeting. Kılıçdaroğlu makes a short summary of the twenty-two days for Cumhuriyet, and divulges to us the message that he will give Turkey in Maltepe.Here are the key points from the chat I had with Kılıçdaroğlu:
- 22 days have passed. A four or five sentence summary, perhaps.
The 22 days have passed in excitement. 22 days under the sun, under the rain, in the cold and sometimes also engulfed in great heat. I am very satisfied with the interest shown. In terms both of those who have joined the march, and those of our citizens who have conveyed messages of friendship from nearby and waved their hands.
- Debate over provocation was ever present as you marched. Regardless of what ruling circles said, there was great affection from the people.
Of course, provocations take place. It would be wrong if I said they didn’t. Protests happen and we have responded to them with applause. We chanted our slogan of, ‘Right, law, justice.’ We have a single slogan, actually, and chant it. We accepted that those protesting against us have rights, too. This has probably been the longest peaceful action in our history. We tried to upset nobody. We didn’t want anybody to suffer even a nosebleed. Stones were thrown and some of the citizens who were following us on the road had their heads split open, but, despite this, we maintained our cool and our common sense. We continued our peaceful action.
- Have any ideas formed in your mind as to your speech at the Maltepe rally? What message will you give to the masses?
I will explain the meaning of this march to the masses. I will explain why we staged this march. And what our expectations are, I will explain this.
-There won’t only be CHP voters in Maltepe. So, what you say will be very important.
There won’t, of course. My message to Turkey, to our people, will be: We marched for the people, who are thirsting for justice. Justice is the foundation of property and is the foundation of the state. There is no end to a state that possesses justice We are actually marching for Turkey’s survival. Why did the Ottoman Empire collapse? At the beginning, justice was very important for the Ottomans but we know very well about the later period when illiterate people were appointed judges. The Ottoman Empire collapsed due to injustices in one sense, really. We want to establish and develop a strong state structure for the Republic of Turkey state that is based more firmly on justice, that is based on common sense, that is based on human rights, that is based on a free media, that is based on the equality of women and men and that is based on the principle of the separation of powers. That is actually the basic philosophy of this march. Turkey was pushed into a very pessimistic environment in the aftermath of the 20 July coup. We are in point of fact experiencing a coup period right now. We are going through a process in which all powers are concentrated in one hand, the judiciary is not independent and parliament has been stripped of its powers. This parliament is actually the Heroic Parliament that directed the War of Liberation. Its title of heroic has been removed from its name. Parliament, which repelled the 15 July coup attempt, has been stripped of its powers. We are now holding this march to defend both human rights and also the rights of bodies that have assumed basic functions with the formation of the state and the republic.
They cannot ignore the scream for justice
Kılıçdaroğlu pulls no punches with two days remaining until the Maltepe rally. If there is no justice, he does not see a happy end for the country. He says that the country’s survival is threatened. The person who says this is the country’s leader of the opposition, the leader of the party for which every third or fourth person votes.
Will ruling circles in Ankara once more block their ears to what Kılıçdaroğlu has to say as he addresses the people in Maltepe? However much Erdoğan and the AKP block their ears, they can no longer ignore the scream for justice of tens of thousands of people. For, the affection bestowed on the CHP leader as he entered Istanbul yesterday clearly shows that the people are thirsting for justice!