Update: Police brutality and peper gas in the banned Republic day celebrations

Despite an earlier ban from the governor’s office, political parties led by the CHP and NGOs seem determined to hold a Republic Day march in Ankara.

Tension rises in Istanbul’s Taksim district when police don’t allow chaplets to be left in front of an Atatürk statue. DHA photo

Political parties and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have voiced their determination for a Republic Day march to be held from the earliest Parliament building to Atatürk’s mausoleum despite the Ankara Governorship’s ban and government officials’ opposition to the rally.

“Unfortunately, both the government and those who couldn’t internalize the republic are making efforts to bar celebrations of Republic Day. But we are sure that those who attack republican values will not be able to prevent enthusiasm for celebrations of the republic, as collaborators and extensions of imperialism were not able to prevent rallies and marches even when our land was under occupation in the past,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in his Republic Day message.

NGOs led by the Kemalist Thought Association (ADD) and the Turkey Youth Union (TGB) had called on people to gather in front of the old Parliament building in Ankara’s Ulus neighborhood to mark the 89th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish republic, but the governor’s office last week denied permission for the “People’s Meeting for the Country and the Republic,” arguing that the old Parliament was not an appropriate venue for gathering. The NGOs also announced that they would hold a “mobilization march” from the old Parliament building to Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of republican founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Ankara, which is about two kilometers away from the venue.

After attending official ceremonies at Anıtkabir and the parade at Ankara’s Hippodrome in the morning, Kılıçdaroğlu will attend the rally along with all the CHP lawmakers. The Democratic Left Party (DSP) and Workers’ Party (İP) also announced that they would be present at the meeting.

However, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) criticized the CHP and organizers, and announced that they would not appear at the rally.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy chair Hüseyin Çelik also slammed the CHP over the banned rally. “This shows that the CHP did not take lessons from 2007’s republic rallies,” AKP’s Hüseyin Çelik tweeted on Oct. 28, referring to the “republic rallies” of 2007 that turned into anti-government demonstrations, allegedly linked to conspiracies to overthrow the government.

Over 3,500 police officers will be on duty for the march, Anatolia news agency reported. The police will take strict security measures for the rally in front of the old Parliament building and allow demonstrators to gather there, but people will not be allowed to march toward Anıtkabir, Anatolia said.
However, demonstrators will try to walk to Anıtkabir individually, ADD chair Tansel Çölaşan said, according to recent reports. “We don’t have any intention of blocking main arterial roads, but sidewalks are open to everyone,” Çölaşan said.

Hurriyet Daily News – October/29/2012

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