Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), instructed his party's provincial heads to take part in the July 15 commemoration ceremonies, despite previously claiming that the coup attempt was "controlled." In a gathering with all of the CHP's provincial heads on Monday in Istanbul, following his "Justice" march, Kılıçdaroğlu stated that he has no doubt the coup attempt was carried out by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
"There are two July 15s: The July 15 of the public and the July 15 of the palace. The July 15 coup attempt was done by FETÖ, there is no doubt about that. The public fought back against the coup attempt. Join the official commemoration events that will take place in your cities on the anniversary of the incident," the opposition leader said.
The 68-year-old CHP leader embarked on a 430-kilometer journey on June 15 after CHP Deputy Enis Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the controversial National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks case from January 2014.
The march, which began in the capital Ankara, ended with a rally with the party's provincial heads in Istanbul on Sunday.
Though Kılıçdaroğlu declared his support for the government following the failed July 15 coup attempt that was perpetrated by FETÖ, he made controversial statements afterwards, saying that the July 15 coup attempt was "controlled."
Citing that the pro-coup forces had gone ahead with the attempt an hour earlier than initially planned because they were exposed, Kılıçdaroğlu said that statements made by FETÖ members in investigations strengthened his opinion.
He however, despite persistent questions, refused to comment or show any further evidence, but said he has documents and could reveal them at a later time. His statement has drawn criticism from the public as well as from political leaders.
Meanwhile, new photos of Kılıçdaroğlu that were taken on the night of July 15 were leaked on Monday, showing that the CHP leader was in Bakırköy Mayor Bülent Kerimoğlu's house, watching TV while the coup was unfolding. The circulated photos drew large criticisms from the social media users.
Kılıçdaroğlu is shown in the photographs watching CNN Turk alongside CHP's Istanbul provincial head Cemal Canpolat, contrary to his previous claims that he "would be the first person to resist if a military coup happens."
The photographs also clearly show that Kılıçdaroğlu was at the mayor's house when the coup plotters who were blocking the roadway on the July 15 Martyr's Bridge finally surrendered. Previously, Kılıçdaroğlu had confirmed that he spent the night of the coup bid at the Bakırköy mayor's house.
In April, footage of Kılıçdaroğlu waiting at Atatürk Airport's VIP lounge during the July 15 coup attempt also emerged. The footage from airport security cameras showed Kılıçdaroğlu hiding in the lounge, in a bid to evade the pro-coup soldiers, before he made his way to the mayor's house.
The opposition leader waited in the lounge until the coup plotters were defeated by the public and the area was secure. Only after the soldiers and tanks had left the area did he exit the airport.
On July 15, 2016, a small military junta linked to FETÖ attempted to topple the democratically elected president and government in Turkey and impose martial law. The attempt was prevented by military troops loyal to the government, along with police units and millions of Turkish citizens who took to the streets in favor of democracy.
In total, 249 people, mostly civilians, were killed by pro-coup soldiers, while over 2,000 people were injured. The attempt was masterminded by Fetullah Gülen, who has been living in a self-imposed exile on a 400-acre property in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania since 1999.
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