Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared the protest march illegal. During the march, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and President Erdoğan compared the march to the July 2016 coup attempt, and accused the participants and Kılıçdaroğlu of supporting the Gülenist FETÖ organization that the government says was behind the coup attempt. Counter-demonstrations have been held by AKP supporters. Police officers provided security for the marchers, and the march concluded peacefully at Maltepe,
A "state of emergency" was declared in
The Guardian reported that interviews with people involved with the Turkish judiciary and various experts on the topic has shown:
"a broad and systematic attempt at intimidating and reshaping
Experts have commented that the Turkish justice system was "crippled" following the 2016 coup attempt. 4,000 prosecutors and judges have lost their jobs since the coup attempt. Kılıçdaroğlu commented that judges wait for orders from the presidential palace before making decisions.
In an opinion piece published in the New York Times opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that he and others were marching for "democracy, justice and freedom from fear and authoritarian rule in
The march began in
The law that stripped members of parliament of their immunity and made Berberoğlu's imprisonment possible was passed in May 2016. Though dozens of pro-Kurdish HDP members have since been jailed, including HDP chairman Selahattin Demirtaş, Berberoğlu is the first CHP member to be imprisoned in 15 years of AKP rule.
The protest was led by opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. The march has been compared to Gandhi's 1930 Salt March. Thousands of protesters participated in the march, carrying signs that read adalet (the Turkish word for "justice") and chanting "rights, law, justice".
A diverse group of citizens participated, including members from different political parties, trade unions, as well as ordinary citizens. On 6 July 2017 Bloomberg reported that 30,000 protestors were participating in the march. Marchers have reported difficult conditions, including walking 20 kilometers a day, hot weather and rain. At least one elderly protester has died of cardiac arrest during the march.
Protestors have given many different reasons for participating in the March, including a recent court decision permitting a mining project in Artvin that has been opposed by many local residents and other citizens throughout the country. In the aftermath of the July 2016 coup attempt, the government declared a "state of emergency" in which 50,000 Turks have been arrested and a further 140,000 people have been fired or suspended from their jobs, including the chairman of Amnesty International Turkey. Judge Aydin Sefa Akay, a member of the United Nations war crime panel, was sentenced to more then seven years in prison for suspected involvement in the coup attempt. Some who participated in the march had been directly affected by the purges, including a former political science professor who was fired by government decree in April 2017. He was one of the 1,100 academics who was investigated for signing a petition calling for an end to violence in
Counter-demonstrations have been held by AKP supporters.
The march reached
He read a list of demands which included: an end to the state of emergency, an independent judiciary, and the release of imprisoned journalists, politicians and others who were arrested during the purges that followed the coup attempt. He said that "subjecting the judiciary to partisan politics is a betrayal of democracy." He also said that the rally was only the beginning, adding: "This is a rebirth for us, for our country and our children. We will revolt against injustice." He said that the April constitutional referendum that had eliminated the post of prime minister and greatly expanded the powers of the presidency was "unlawful" (the changes take effect in 2019). Because the state of emergency was in place when the referendum was carried out, Kılıçdaroğlu said that "all public resources were exploited to manipulate the outcome".[