Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Istanbul on May 21 to support the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s opposition leader after President Canan Kaftancioglu was sentenced to four years and 11 months in prison last year. May 12. The provincial president of Istanbul called her sentence a political case.
Less than a month after the marches in support of the opponent Osman Kavala, Istanbul was once again the scene of demonstrations against Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On this occasion, in reaction to the judicial conviction of Canan Kaftancioglu, one of the figures of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
The sentence, of 4 years and 11 months in prison, was confirmed on May 12 by the Court of Cassation, which found her guilty of “insulting the president”, “insulting an official in the exercise of his functions” and “public denigration of the State of the Republic of Turkey”. Her sentence will still be appealed before the Constitutional Court.
“Rights, law and justice” were among the slogans of the crowd that gathered in Istanbul’s Maltepe district, waving the opposition and country flags. According to police data, there were more than 400,000 protesters in the mobilization.
“It is a protest not only against the injustice towards Kaftancioglu. There are others imprisoned for political decisions. This rally marks the beginning of our march towards a democratic republic that ends Erdogan’s one-man government,” said Seyit Torun, the vice president of the CHP.
Imprisonment of opponents in Turkey
Kaftancioglu was convicted on the basis of tweets posted between 2012 and 2017, especially in relation to the “Gezi movement”, the large anti-government protests of 2013.
The political figure played a key role in the 2019 Istanbul elections, in which Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu won against Erdogan’s party. Kaftancioglu has denounced a “political trial” aimed at punishing her for her role in the elections.
According to Seren Selvin Korkmaz, general director of the IstanPol think tank, “the government’s only card is to continue with polarization and oppression. They want revenge for the Istanbul elections. The charges against Kaftancioglu are politically motivated.”
The decision came shortly after Osman Kavala was sentenced to unconditional life imprisonment for having attempted to overthrow the government, a charge he has always denied. Seven other people, who appeared at the same time, were sentenced to 18 years in prison, accused of having supported him.
Deterioration of the economic context as the elections approach
Erdogan has been in power since 2003, first as prime minister and then as president. The head of state significantly strengthened his powers in 2017 by replacing the parliamentary system with a presidential regime.
The economic situation in Turkey has deteriorated in recent months. The president caused economic chaos in the country due to his insistence on reducing interest rates, a fact that caused, among other things, inflation and the depreciation of its currency, the Turkish lira, which has lost 45% of its value since the beginning of the year.
Additionally, given the rise in prices, citizens in Turkey face greater difficulty in obtaining basic products such as food and gasoline.
With little more than a year remaining for the next elections in Turkey, scheduled for June 2023, the population largely blames President Erdogan for the economic situation. Likewise, those who oppose him accuse him of wanting to repress and destabilize the opposition before the elections.
With EFE and AFP
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