Republican People's Party (CHP) spokesperson Bülent Tezcan acknowledged the allegations that the behavior displayed by some party members at the Gallipoli martyrs site during the CHP's camp of justice assembly in the northwestern city of Çanakkale was disrespectful. Meanwhile, the CHP said it will take steps to punish the misconduct.
In response to strong public criticism on the grounds that the incident dishonored the memory of the Gallipoli martyrs, Tezcan stated that those responsible will be expelled from the party.
Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Bülent Turan shared a video on his official Twitter account showing a group of people drinking alcohol and dancing at the CHP's justice assembly held at Gallipoli National Park and Martyrs Cemetery on Aug. 26. Turan wrote that the issue was not what they were drinking, but the disrespect for the martyrs and added, "You should not have done this at the martyrs site."
At first, Tezcan denied the pictures when they were originally shared by Turan. "Once again, AK Party Deputy Chairman and Çanakkale Deputy Bülent Turan aims to blemish this beautiful assembly by sharing pictures on his social media account, which we would never allow here, and it is uncertain whether they are real or not," he said on Aug. 27.
Meanwhile, following the harsh public criticism of the pictures and video footage, Tezcan accepted the allegations with a written statement saying, "When the news was reported on some media outlets stating some people consumed alcohol at the camp field, we conducted an immediate investigation, and it was determined that some impertinent people consumed alcohol on that evening outside the main camp area." Tezcan also said they were saddened by the incident, which disrespected the memory of the Gallipoli martyrs, and that these people would be expelled from the party.
Çanakkale claims a significant place in Turkish history and is respected by the Turkish people. The Battle of Gallipoli took place in Çanakkale province during World War I, and today there is a memorial in the city to commemorate the 253,000 Turkish soldiers who joined the battle. Therefore, the behavior of select CHP members was considered generally dishonorable to the atmosphere of the city.
In his written statement, Tezcan said they announced the camping rules and wrote them in the assembly's leaflet, with the first line reading, "All activities held here should be sensitive to the memory of our martyrs." Tezcan added that the incident occurred despite all of their efforts.
When a written statement accepting the allegations came from the CHP, Turan tweeted that they had first refuted him saying it was slander, only to later announce the expulsion of select members. Now, Turan said he was expecting an apology.
Speaking in Çanakkale on Aug. 27, Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu lashed out at the CHP for their carelessness. He criticized the incident asking, "Why did you disrespect the memory of our martyrs?" Çavuşoğlu contended that the people responsible for the incident lost their sense of belonging to this country. Stating that the justice assembly will not produce anything beneficial for the public, Çavuşoğlu added, "Justice will not ensue from this."
CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu decided to organize a "justice assembly" following his "justice march" in June which aimed to protest CHP Deputy Enis Berberoğlu's 25-year prison sentence for leaking state secrets to the press. The CHP's justice assembly is expected to take place between Aug. 26 and Aug. 30. The assembly will focus on justice in various areas of life, such religious faith and education. Kılıçdaroğlu said the justice assembly's objective is to provide a platform for people to discuss and express their concerns regarding issues related to the justice system in Turkey.