Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Republican People's Party (CHP) chairman has been criticized following his remarks on suspected Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) public servants suspended or dismissed from their duties, as well as on an academic and a school teacher with alleged links to the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) terrorist group, made on the sixth day of his march from Ankara to Istanbul. Stressing that 105,836 public servants have been dismissed or suspended, Kılıçdaroğlu on Tuesday said that nobody has asked about the reasons behind the mass purge. "Is this how all opposition is silenced. They have tried to do this and made the justice collapse," he said. On the other hand, the CHP chairman defended two DHKP-C sympathizers.
"I am sending my greetings to Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça. Tell me if they have any faults. Nobody knows why they were dismissed from their duties," CHP leader said.
Kılıçdaroğlu's statements were interpreted by some as a sign to attract support for his march that has failed to lure big crowds onto the streets. Emin Pazarcı, a columnist for the Turkish Akşam daily, said that Kılıçdaroğlu's march has the potential to create a chaotic environment in the country. "This is why he sends messages to terrorist groups. The march could take a different turn after Sakarya [a province some 150 kilometers away from Istanbul]."
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said earlier in May that Gülmen and Özakça are, indeed, DHKP-C supporters. Stressing that school teacher Özakça was dismissed due to charges varying from being a member of a terrorist group, destroying public property, spreading terrorism propaganda and injuring others, Soylu said that Gülmen has organic links to the DHKP-C and she was once caught with group militants in a police operation.
Mustafa Altunoğlu, an academic at Anadolu University focusing on the republican party, said that Kılıçdaroğlu aims to expand his influence over his party and pile pressure on the government with the march. "They started the march with the motto of seeking justice for everyone. I do not think they request justice for everybody," he said.
It remains mysterious whether Kılıçdaroğlu's calls for different opposition circles has something to do with the little attention his march has drawn from the youth. His organization failed to draw attention from the country's youth, in terms of the average age of those participating in the march. The average age of participants stands at around 40.
Altunoğlu said that the impact of the march has gradually declined since the first day from today. The academic argued that the CHP has yet to make up its mind on what to do next, adding that there is a try to create a bloc against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
President Erdoğan recently slammed the CHP chairman for his efforts to create chaos in the country. "What is the difference between you and those who were involved in[the] July 15 [coup attempt]? They [putschists] had F-16 fighters and they attacked with choppers, tanks and artillery. Now you are doing [the same thing] by marching," he said. Erdoğan also warned marchers to avoid any attempt to occupy local highways. "If they [the marchers] try to occupy highways such as the TEM and E-5, the situation could become similar to what we saw on July 15 and, in the midst of the state of emergency, we definitely do not have the luxury of tolerating such attempts," he said.
The CHP Chairman's march started after CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu was arrested on spying charges. Berberoğlu was accused of leaking secret state documents with the purpose of political and military espionage.
Pazarcı argued that the reason why Kılıçdaroğlu's march did not start after the April 16 referendum, which he called null and void due to alleged cheating, is because Berberoğlu's arrest opened the space to investigate FETÖ's political wing. "He threw himself onto the stage suddenly after the arrest. Is it possible that former deputy vice chairman for the CHP, Berberoğlu, did what he did without Kılıçdaroğlu's knowledge?" he asked.