Thousands gather for Kılıçdaroğlu’s rally in eastern Van: ‘As if Demirtaş were here’

Presidential candidate and CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu and Istanbul Mayor İmamoğlu held a rally in the eastern province of Van with the participation of thousands of people. Some people from the audience compared Kılıçdaroğlu with jailed HDP co-chair Demirtaş and said “as if Demirtaş were here.”

Kadir Cesur / Gazete Duvar

The main opposition bloc Nation Alliance’s presidential candidate and Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on May 2 held a big rally in the eastern province of Van as part of his election campaign for the May 14 elections. 

After being greeted at Van Ferit Melen Airport, Kılıçdaroğlu set off on the election bus. Due to the crowd surrounding the bus on his way, the rally started with an hour delay.

There were many Green Left Party (YSP) flags as well as CHP flags. Before, during and after the rally, the audience chanted the slogans for jailed renowned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş. Some people from the audience compared Kılıçdaroğlu with Demirtaş and said “as if Demirtaş were here,” reminding that this crowd was last seen at Demirtaş's rally.

The Green Left party is the back-up party of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in the upcoming elections over closure risk.

Turkey’s second biggest opposition bloc Labor and Freedom Alliance, including the Green Left Party, has officially announced their support for Kılıçdaroğlu in the presidential election.

Before Kılıçdaroğlu, CHP Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu took the stage, who will be vice president in the case of an opposition victory in the May 14 elections.

“Justice is not for only Ekrem, nor for Selahattin. Everybody is equal. The decision of a fair court does not hurt anyone. The religion of the state is justice. We are not different from each other. We will never give up, neither one of our citizens will be harmed, nor an inch of our land will be destroyed,” İmamoğlu said.

In December, İmamoğlu was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison and a political ban on charges of “insulting” 11 members of Turkey's Supreme Election Council (YSK), which must be confirmed by an appeals court before application.

The Istanbul Mayor said that they will make Lake Van the apple of the eye of tourism, and added that they will put an end to the “trustee regime.” Like Van, the AKP government has appointed trustee mayors to the municipalities in several provinces and districts where the HDP won the local elections over alleged terrorism connections.

Ekrem İmamoğlu and his wife Dilek İmamoğlu

After İmamoğlu, Kılıçdaroğlu took the stage and said he studied at a primary school in Van’s Erciş district. 

“I have a promise to the people of this country that I will bring peace to this country. In this country, no one will be marginalized because of their faith and identity. I know great injustices have been done. I know that elected officials have been dismissed. I will solve all of them. I'm going to end the freak trustee practices,” the 74-year-old leader said.

Kılıçdaroğlu said “I know there is serious poverty. I know kids go to bed hungry. Van is one of the keystones of this region. People from all over the world should come to Van, not just Iranians. This region will be declared as a special economic zone.”

Kılıçdaroğlu also talked about the families living in the container city for about 12 years after the two major earthquakes in 2011 in Van. He said that after he won the election, he would pay a visit there and ask for their “forgiveness.”

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

In 2018, the HDP received 59.3% of the votes in Van in the general election, whereas CHP received only 2.6%. In the presidential election, Demirtaş received 58.4% of the votes.

(English version by Alperen Şen)