Middle East Thousands protesting in Ankara over lawmaker’s arrest

Thousands protesting in Ankara over lawmaker’s arrest
Enis Berberoglu, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), arrives at the Justice Palace, the Caglayan courthouse, to attend a trial in Istanbul, Turkey March 1, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

ANKARA, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – Thousands of Turkish protesters took to the streets of Ankara on Thursday in a demonstration against the 25-year prison sentence handed down to an opposition lawmaker, Reuters reported.

A court on Wednesday sentenced Enis Berberoglu, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republic People’s Party (CHP) on charges of spying and giving an opposition newspaper a video allegedly showing Turkish intelligence officers moving weapons into Syria.

Berberoglu is the first member of the CHP to be jailed since the failed July 2016 military coup, which has seen over 50,000 people jailed, including the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and 11 other members of parliament.

The leader of the CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has called the decision lawless and politically motivated.

In protest, Kilicdaroglu launched a 425 kilometer (265 miles) march from Ankara to the Istanbul jail where Berberoglu is being detained, starting with the demonstration in Ankara.

"Our march will continue until there is justice in this country," Kilicdaroglu told reporters before heading to the park.

Kilicdaroglu supported an April 2015 bill by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that removed lawmaker immunity from prosecution, a move that has disproportionately targeted the HDP.

The charges for the other jailed lawmakers, predominantly pro-Kurdish, range from “disruption of unity and territorial integrity of the state,” to “membership in a terror group.”