Osman Çaklı / Gazete Duvar
Turkey’s pro-government Turkey Youth Foundation (TÜGVA) on Jan. 1 held a rally in support of Palestine at Istanbul’s historic Galata Bridge. 250,000 people were in attendance, stated the organization.
Bilal Erdoğan, board member of TÜGVA and son of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for increased boycotts in his address to the crowd.
Protesters marched to the Galata Bridge in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district after morning prayers in protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza that killed more than 22,000 people.
Turkey’s Health and Youth Ministers, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy and former Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, President Erdoğan’s son-in-law and defense contractor Selçuk Bayraktar joined the march.
Former finance minister and President Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak made his first public appearance in years, although he did not address the crowd. He had called people to the march in a video alongside his wife Esra Albayrak through TÜGVA's social media accounts.
"First message of the new year: Our address is the Galata Bridge to share the grief over our soldiers and martyrs in Gaza," read the invitation.
Yeni yılın ilk mesajı:— TürkiyeGençlikVakfı (@tugvaTR) December 28, 2023
Mehmetçiklerimizin ve Gazze'deki şehitlerimizin acısını paylaşmak
ve bu zulme karşı dik duruşumuzu göstermek için Adresimiz Galata Köprüsü pic.twitter.com/lRo88F5bbQ
Ambassador to Palestine Faed Mustafa and Erdoğan were among the speakers of the protest. Erdoğan described the Israeli attacks in Gaza after Nov. 7 as “genocide” and called for sustained boycott efforts in his speech.
“We know that our 12 soldiers were murdered by the same mindset that killed the martyrs in Palestine,” said Erdoğan, referring to the 12 Turkish soldiers who died during clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in Iraq.
Erdoğan continued, “This does not end with a ceasefire. We will sustain our boycotts until Palestine’s struggle continues so that capital owners know to tread lightly.”
Ambassador Saed thanked the “Turkish nation” and stated that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu would end up in the dustbin of history.
(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)