Massive protest in Istanbul against Erdogan’s government

The Police estimated the number of participants at 400,000 (YASIN AKGUL /)

Tens of thousands of people attended a demonstration in Istanbul on Saturday by the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s opposition leader, against what they see as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism.

The demonstrators are protesting against the sentence of almost five years in prison confirmed last week against Canan Kaftancioglu, president of the CHP in Istanbul, for “insults against high officials”, which will still be appealed before the Constitutional Court.

The protest was initially called for the city of Bursa, as part of a series of acts against what the CHP describes as the “autocracy” of Erdogan, whose Islamist AKP party has ruled since 2003, but was transferred to Istanbul after the sentence was known.

”Let no one despair, the rule of the bandits is ending. There is very little time left, do not worry, we will hug each other in the free squares, in the universities, in the streets of this country”, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, president of the CHP, promised the attendees.

Kiliçdaroglu will most likely be the front-runner of several opposition parties in the presidential elections scheduled for next year in Turkey.

“Rights, law and justice” was one of the most chanted slogans by the crowd, arriving from different regions of Turkey and gathered in the district of Maltepe, in Istanbul.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (MURAT CETINMUHURDAR/PPO/)

Sources from the organization pointed out that the Police had estimated the number of participants at 400,000, although there has been no official communication in this regard.

The vice president of the CHP, Seyit Torun, assured Efe that this demonstration is a sign that the Erdogan government is nearing its end. ”It is a protest not only against the injustice towards Kaftancioglu. There are others imprisoned for political decisions. This rally marks the beginning of our march towards a democratic republic that ends Erdogan’s one-man government,” he said.

Kaftancioglu was sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison in June 2020 for various social media posts written during the massive anti-government protests of 2013.

Demonstrations in Istanbul
“Rights, law and justice” was one of the most chanted slogans by the crowd (YASIN AKGUL /)

The accusations ranged from “accusing an official in the exercise of his functions”, “publicly insulting the State of Turkey” and “insulting the president” to “propaganda for the terrorist organization PKK (the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the guerrilla Turkish Kurdish) and “inciting hatred in society”.

The Supreme Court has not found evidence for the last two accusations, but maintains the first three, for which it set the sentence on the 12th at four years and eleven months in prison.

Demonstrations in Istanbul

Turkey’s judicial independence has been under fire in recent years, especially since the crackdown on the judiciary and other state organs following a failed coup in 2016 and the change to an executive presidency last year.

In recent years, numerous citizens have been sentenced for insulting the president, sometimes even simply for having spread texts from others on social networks that did not even mention Erdogan’s name.

Insulting the president of Turkey is typified and is expected sentences of between eight months and four years in prison.


Erdogan reiterated that Turkey will say “no” to the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO and that it will not break ties with Russia or Ukraine.

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