The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on April 16 organized sit-ins to protest Turkey’s ongoing state of emergency, declared shortly after the July 2016 coup attempt. The theme of the protest, attended by CHP deputies and local party officials and supported by NGOs in some cities, was: “We want democracy, not the state of emergency.”
In Istanbul, police prevented members of the CHP from staging the protest in Taksim Square, while riot police and water cannon vehicles were deployed around İstiklal Avenue and Gezi Park. After police refused to allow CHP members to enter Taksim Square they opted to march down İstiklal Avenue. In the capital Ankara, the main opposition party organized the sit-in in the central Guvenpark.
In the southeastern province of Şırnak, the CHP cancelled a planned sit-in protest after the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) carried out an attack against the Kuyutepe military base area in the province, killing three soldiers. One soldier was also wounded in the attack.
Protestors read out a uniform statement at all sit-ins across the country.
“The state of emergency has been in place for 21 months. The emergency rule regime has turned into an attack on democracy and the rule of law. It has also become a tool to suppress human rights, freedom of expression and protests,” the statement read.
“Our demand is clear: The statement of emergency, which has become a crime committed against the will of the people, should be ended immediately. We want democracy, not the state of emergency,” it added.
Government seeks to extend emergency rule
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ criticized the sit-ins.
“They cannot stop the Justice and Development Party [AKP] by sitting in. We will move on. My advice to them: Now is not the time to sit, now is time to rise,” Bozdağ said.
The protests come ahead of an expected extension of the state of emergency for a seventh time. The extension of the state of emergency will be discussed on April 17 at the National Security Council (MGK) and the government will act in line with the decision of the meeting, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on April 13.
The issue is expected to be discussed at parliament on April 19. As with previous extensions of emergency rule, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are expected to support the motion, while the CHP and the other opposition the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are expected to oppose it.
Ankara declared the state of emergency for the first time on July 20, 2016, five days after the deadly military coup attempt.
Hurriyet Daily News