Istanbul, August 5, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
A massive democracy rally in protest of the failed July 15 coup attempt will be held in Istanbul’s Yenikapı Square on Aug. 7, drawing the president, prime minister, main opposition head and the leader of the country’s foremost nationalist party.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the country’s third biggest party, was not invited to the rally.
The “Democracy and Martyrs Rally” will be held as the latest in a series of meetings to protest the failed takeover, which is believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
“I have an offer; let’s make a democracy meeting in Yenikapı on Aug. 7. Let’s be there with the Armed Forces’ command, artists and sportswomen and men who contributed to the process [after the coup plot]. Let the nation be there. Let’s invite all of the leaders of all the political parties,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Turkish broadcaster ATV on July 30, adding that the “normalization process is significant for Turkey.”
“Let’s be there with the leaders and give our message to all of Turkey from there altogether. It’s very, very important for the normalization process to speed up for our country,” he said, asking the leaders of the parties to deliver individual speeches.
Upon Erdoğan’s call, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım conducted a phone call with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who accepted the invitation.
“I will be with the people in Yenikapı upon the invitation I received as the leader of the MHP,” Bahçeli wrote on his Twitter account on Aug. 3, adding that the national ambition would be “crowned” at the meeting.
“The national will will give confidence to the friends and will spread fear to the enemy. I will stay on the side of Turkey against the traitors and centers of hostility,” he also wrote, which was retweeted by Erdoğan.
Yıldırım also held a phone call with Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who said the CHP would send a delegation to the joint rally. However, upon a second call from Yıldırım, the CHP leader decided to attend the rally.
“We will be in Yenikapı for the same reason that we were in the parliament on the night of the coup attempt. Kılıçdaroğlu will also be at the rally in Yenikapı. He will convey his decision to the prime minister by phone,” CHP spokesperson Selin Sayek Böke said Aug. 5, referring to the lawmakers who were in parliament when the jets used by coup plotters bombed the building early on July 16.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s decision to participate in the rally was welcomed by members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), with Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş thanking him.
“The AKP, CHP and MHP will participate in the rally on Aug. 7. Mr. Bahçeli had said he would come, as did Kılıçdaroğlu. We thank him. That was the right thing to do. We hope that we will shout our national unity hand in hand,” Kurtulmuş said.
Elsewhere, Erdoğan’s adviser Şeref Malkoç apologized to Bahçeli and MHP members over his comments on the joint meeting on Aug. 7 being an “opportunity for Bahçeli.”
“Bahçeli will address a crowd that he has never seen in his life,” Malkoç told Fox TV, which also drew criticism from Erdoğan, who asked Malkoç to apologize.
“You have no right to say that and you are not a politician,” Erdoğan told TRT on Aug. 4.
Meanwhile, the CHP held a “Republic and Democracy Rally” on Aug. 4 in the western province of İzmir, where Kılıçdaroğlu characterized the coup attempt as the “most bloody coup attempt in Turkey’s history.”
“We stood against all kinds of coups and we will continue to do so. The coup showed the importance of a secular system once again. Secularism is the cement that holds us together,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that FETÖ members did not infiltrate the state, but were “placed there step by step in a planned manner.”
Up to 1.5 million hats, 2.5 million Turkish flags and 5 million bottles of water have been prepared for the Yenikapı rally, while a team of up to 300 people will prepare the area for the rally.
Some 22 X-Ray machines, 165 doors with metal detectors will be erected in the area, while up to 13,000 people, excluding police officers, will be employed during the rally, which is expected to draw 3.5 million people.
During the failed coup attempt on July 15, Erdoğan called on the people to go out to the streets and protest the attempted takeover. He and AKP members have repeatedly made similar calls for people to hit the streets and protest the attempt since then.
Supporters of the CHP and AKP held a joint rally in Istanbul’s Taksim on July 24 upon Kılıçdaroğlu’s call, where he read out a declaration including articles on democracy, rights and governance.
Erdoğan previously thanked the three party leaders for their united stance against the coup attempt and listen to their views on the ongoing fight against FETÖ within the state.
The HDP also opposed the coup, but has been excluded by the government on the grounds that it allegedly supports the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).