Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Huge Crowds Gather for Turkish Martyrs, Pro-­Democracy to Show Unity | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Erdogan and his wife, Emine Gulbaran, wave to the crowd. Photograph: Osman Orsal/Reuters

Istanbul- Istanbul’s Yenikapi Square was covered on Sunday by a sea of white and red, the colors of Turkey’s flag, when millions gathered from several political spectrum and affiliations at the “Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally.”

Turkey’s Istanbul witnessed on Sunday a massive rally that President Recep Tayip Erdogan had called for, to mark the end of the series of “pro-democracy” rallies held in the country’s entire provinces since the coup attempt of July 15.

The event, colored by an Ottoman rite style, was attended by Erdogan, Prime Minister Benali Yildirim, Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman, main opposition Republican People’s Party Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli.

However, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party, or HDP, wasn’t invited. Erdogan accused the party of supporting terrorism in Turkey.

Speeches delivered during the event asserted that effectiveness embodies the will of the nation.

In his address, Kilicdaroglu called on protecting democracy under every condition, eliminating all tutorship in democracy, strengthening the parliamentary system, supporting freedom of expression, promoting impartiality and independence of the judiciary and giving importance to secularism and education system.

Buses and boats coming from several parts of Istanbul were commissioned to bring people to the area.

Strict security measures were taken during the event and nearly 15,000 police members were providing security. Two helicopters circled overhead the rally while thousands of red and white balloons filled the skies of the capital, while an Ottoman marching band entertained the crowd.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a statement on Sunday rejecting claims spread in social media circles and several Turkish news networks showing U.S. Ambassador John Bass meeting with a Turkish colonel on July 14, a day before the coup attempt.