Turkey’s key opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu appeals to European court against referendum results

July 4, 2017 10:30 pm

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of ’s the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) walks with thousands of supporters in Kocaeli on July 3, 2017 during an anti-government protest march from Ankara to Istanbul. (Photo by CHP press office)

Turkey’s main opposition leader has lodged an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against the results of the April 16 referendum over a government bill which grants extensive powers to the president.
On Tuesday, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of Republican People’s Party (CHP), signed an appeal to the European court against the Turkey’s election board’s decision to confirm unstamped votes in the April 16 referendum.
Kilicdaroglu lodged the appeal in the city of Izmit on the 20th day of his massive protest march from Ankara to Istanbul. He staged the 425-km (265 mile) march following a 25-year jail sentence for Enis Berberoglu, a deputy chairman for the CHP, in June on charges of revealing state secrets.
“Turkey has rapidly turned into a (one-)party state. Pretty much all state institutions have become branches of a political party,” Kilicdaroglu, 68 told reporters on the last leg of his march with thousands of protesters.
“This is causing profound harm to our democratic, parliamentary system,” he added.
The protest has gained momentum as it passes through northwest Turkey, with representatives from the pro-Kurdish HDP, parliament’s third largest party, joining the march on Monday near the jail of its former co-leader Figen Yuksekdag.

Thousands of supporters and members of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) march in Kocaeli on July 3, 2017, as part of an anti-government protest march from Ankara to Istanbul. (Photo by CHP press office) 

On Monday, Yuksekdag, stripped of her parliamentary status in February, issued a statement from her cell, calling on the opposition to put aside their differences and join efforts to help restore justice in the country.
“We must set up the shattered scales of justice again and fight for this together,” warning that justice had hit “rock bottom” with the imprisonment of 11 HDP lawmakers and nearly 100 mayors.
The HDP rejects accusations of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, designated by Ankara and its Western allies as a terrorist group, which launched an insurgency in 1984 in which has claimed the lives of over 40,000.
Meanwhile, President Tayyip Erdogan has stepped up his harsh criticism of the protest march, saying the CHP was no longer acting as a political opposition.
“We can see that they have reached the point of acting together with terror groups and those powers which provoke them against our country,” he said in a speech to officials from his ruling AK Party on Saturday.
“The path which you are taking is the one of Qandil, the one of Pennsylvania,” he said, referring to the PKK positions in northern Iraqi mountains and the US state where Erdogan’s ally-turned-foe Fethullah Gulen resides.
Erdogan accuses Gulen of plotting the June 2016 attempted coup. Over 50,000 people have been imprisoned pending trial and 150,000 have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs over their alleged link to Gulen. Turkey has also closed 130 media outlets and imprisoned nearly 160 journalists.
In April, the government also held a referendum on constitutional changes that sharply expanded Erdogan’s presidential powers and the proposals won 51.4 percent of the vote.
However, opposition parties objected to the poll result, calling it deeply flawed. European election observers also said that the election board’s decision to allow unstamped voted to be counted eliminated a key safeguard against voting fraud.
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