1000’s protest in Turkey over Istanbul mayor’s conviction – EURACTIV.com


1000’s of individuals rallied in Turkey on Thursday (15 December) to oppose the conviction and political ban of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, chanting slogans criticising President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AK Social gathering earlier than elections subsequent yr.

A Turkish courtroom on Wednesday sentenced İmamoğlu, a preferred rival to Erdoğan, to 2 years and 7 months in jail, which just like the ban have to be confirmed by an appeals courtroom. The decision drew broad criticism at dwelling and overseas as an abuse of democracy.

Late on Thursday, media reviews mentioned the prosecutor within the case had launched a authorized problem to the decision, in search of an extended jail sentence for İmamoğlu. No additional particulars had been instantly out there.

As patriotic music blared, the gang waved Turkish flags in entrance of Istanbul’s municipality constructing, from which was draped an enormous portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founder whose secular rules Erdoğan’s opponents say are beneath menace.

“Rights, legislation, justice. … The day will come when the AKP is known as to account,” the gang chanted.

Subsequent yr’s presidential and parliamentary elections, on account of be held by June, might show one of many greatest political challenges to Erdoğan’s twenty years in energy, as Turks grapple with surging dwelling prices and a plunging foreign money. The lira fell to a file low towards the greenback this week.

“The federal government is afraid and that’s why there was such a verdict. No one can cease this nation,” mentioned Filiz Kumbasar, 56, who travelled to the rally from Duzce, a city 200 km (125 miles) from Istanbul, Turkey’s industrial hub of 16 million individuals.

İmamoğlu was convicted of insulting public officers in a speech he made after he gained Istanbul’s election in 2019. Critics say Turkish courts bend to Erdoğan’s will. The federal government says the judiciary is unbiased.

“You beat them two occasions already and also you’ll do it once more,” İmamoğlu informed the gang, referring to an preliminary vote in 2019 that he gained however which was annulled and a re-run that adopted and which he additionally gained.

“All 16 million Istanbulites, our nation and our massive Turkey alliance is behind me. We’ll change this order within the election subsequent yr,” he mentioned.

The six-party opposition alliance shaped towards Erdoğan, led by İmamoğlu’s Republican Folks’s Social gathering (CHP), has but to agree on a presidential candidate. İmamoğlu has been mooted as a potential challenger and polls recommend he would defeat Erdoğan.

The courtroom ruling, if upheld, would bar him from working.

“We’re right here as we speak to guard our rights and the votes of hundreds of thousands of individuals from Istanbul. We’re right here as a result of we need to dwell in a rustic the place there’s rule of legislation,” mentioned Aslihan Gulhan, who works within the tourism sector.

İmamoğlu was tried over a speech through which he mentioned those that annulled the preliminary 2019 vote – through which he narrowly defeated an AKP candidate – had been “fools”. İmamoğlu says his comment was a response to Inside Minister Suleyman Soylu, who he mentioned used the identical language towards him.

His snug win within the re-run vote ended the 25-year rule in Istanbul of the AKP and its Islamist predecessors.

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