Turkey opposition chief vows to intensify drive for ‘justice’

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), holds a bread during the “Loyalty March for 57th Regiment” at the site of the WWI Battle of Gallipolias, a part of the “Justice Congress” of his party on Sunday in Canakkale. (AFP)
Updated 27 August 2017

Turkey opposition chief vows to intensify drive for ‘justice’

ÇANAKKALE: Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu vowed to press on with an intensifying campaign for justice in defiance of “threats” by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing him of ruling as a dictator.
Kilicdaroglu, head of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), told AFP in an interview he believed that Erdogan feared his movement and consequently was attacking him in nearly every public speech.
The CHP leader, who analysts until now rarely saw as posing a major challenge to Erdogan, threw down a new gauntlet to the president this summer with a nearly month-long march complaining of injustice in Turkey in the wake of the July 15, 2016, failed coup bid.
This weekend, he kicked off a four-day “justice congress” highlighting violations in the unprecedented crackdown that followed the failed coup, in a bid to build on the momentum of that march.
“Let him (Erdogan) threaten as much as he wants, we are right. We will defend justice, democracy, judicial independence and media freedom to the end because we are right,” said Kilicdaroglu.
“He sees me as a threat. He is from time to time delivering speeches that contain threats but we will not be frightened off by their threats,” the CHP leader said in front of his trailer at the outdoor event in the western Canakkale region.
Erdogan has lambasted Kilicdaroglu in speeches and even hinted that the CHP chief could himself face judicial proceedings. But Kilicdaroglu said this showed that “Erdogan is definitely shying away and scared of me.”
He accused the Turkish president, who has dominated Turkey for almost one and a half decades as premier and head of state, of suffering from “Kilicdaroglu illness” due to nearly daily tirades targeting him.
Kilicdaroglu is hoping the appeal of his justice movement will go well beyond the CHP and help create a united front against the president ahead of 2019 elections.
The stakes will be particularly high in the polls — Erdogan this April won a referendum on enhancing the powers of the presidency which critics fear give the head of state near authoritarian powers.
“Turkey is currently in a coup process. Parliament has been de-activated,” Kilicdaroglu said.
“They can seize assets or dismiss from the public sector whoever they want under a single decree. Can you call this democracy?”
More than 50,000 people have been arrested under Turkey’s over year-long state of emergency imposed after the failed coup, and almost three times that number have lost their jobs, including teachers, judges, soldiers and police officers.
Kilicdaroglu, however, said: “We are coming together in spite of all impossibilities and all barriers... We are all together speaking up for democracy and human rights. That is, of course, scaring him.”
The government insists the crackdown is essential to deal with the national security threat posed by the coup bid, blamed on the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen who denies the charges.
Kilicdaroglu did not comment on if he would run in the presidential polls but he said the CHP’s candidate would “oppose the one-man regime and advocate a democratic parliamentary system.”

Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

Updated 38 min 25 sec ago

Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

  • Israel seized part of the Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War, subsequently annexing it in 1981
  • US President Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights on March 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Arab states on Monday condemned US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

The decision “does not change the area’s status” as illegally occupied territory, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.

Breaking decades of international consensus, Trump signed a proclamation at the White House on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the border area that Israel seized from Syria in 1967. 

Syria said the decision was a blatant attack on its sovereignty. 

“Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Opposition chief Nasr Al-Hariri said Trump’s decision would “lead to more violence and instability, and it will have negative effects on efforts to engineer peace in the region.”

Lebanon said the move “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” the Foreign Ministry said.