Thousands gather for first Labor and Freedom Alliance rally in Istanbul

Turkey’s new Labor and Freedom Alliance held their first rally in Istanbul's Kartal district on Jan. 15 with the slogan of “Let's Stop Poverty, War and Oppression."

Ferhat Yaşar / DUVAR

Tens of thousands of people gathered for the first rally of leftist Labor and Freedom Alliance in Istanbul’s Kartal district on Jan. 15. 

The newly established alliance includes Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Workers’ Party (TİP), Labor Party (EMEP), Social Freedom Party (TÖP), Labor Movement Party (EHP), Socialist Assemblies Federation (SMF)

HDP Istanbul co-chair Ferhat Encü announced that according to their findings, approximately 60,000 attended the rally.

The election song of the alliance was played for the first time at the rally, written by renowned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş who has been in prison since 2016, 

Social Freedom Party (TÖP) spokesperson Juliana Gözen said they will defeat the government in upcoming elections.

“Some people are afraid that the day will come when they will be judged, so they should be afraid. We'll take back the lives they stole from us,” she added.

Following Gözen, Labor Movement Party (EHP) chair Hakan Öztürk took the stage.

“I see workers, Kurdish people, Alevis, and women come here. Young people carrying the rainbow flag, you are welcome,” he said. “Erdoğan, there is hunger in this country! Come stop this hunger, stop the wars, make peace with the Kurdish people. We will beat you AKP. We are united!”

Then Labor Party (EMEP) chair Ercüment Akdeniz took the stage and said they will field their own presidential candidate if the opposition bloc continues to ignore them. 

HDP officials previously stated that they are open to having a joint presidential candidate if not excluded from talks of the Table of Six.

“If you continue your denial, ignoring stance, the Labor and Freedom Alliance will field its own candidate,” Akdeniz said. 

Following Akdeniz, HDP co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithar Sancar took the stage. 

“This is only the beginning, my dear friends. Together with our peoples, our friends, our constituents, our alliances, we will leave our mark on the elections,” Buldan said. 

“These elections will also be the one in which we will bring back the Istanbul Convention. Here's my promise to women,” she added.

“We will make Istanbul the base of labor, freedom and democracy. Despite all the oppression, exploitation, war policies, police raids and lawsuits, the Labor and Freedom Alliance is walking together with the HDP,” Sancar said. 

“The government is making the people of this country even poorer. We say stop to this, we say no to war. Long live the peace alliance,” he added.

After the rally, at least 10 people were detained for allegedly "chanting criminal slogans.”

Demirtaş shared photos from the rally on Twitter and said "I heard that it was a great rally. What I heard was your voice. You were great today, you will always be so. I thank each of you individually, my dear friends. Please write me your feelings, I am curious."