CHP organized a meeting at Taksim Square in the aftermath of the coup attempt of last weekend. ‘The Republic and Democracy Meeting’, as it was titled, was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. During the meeting, in addition to anti-coup statements, emphasis was put on parliamentarian democracy, secularism, and rule of law.
Having started in the afternoon hours on Sunday, the meeting area was crowded by groups marching to the Square in masses from the Tunnel area, Tepebaşı, Beşiktaş, and Şişli.
Among these marching groups were many of the prominent left wing organizations and parties, such as the workers’ unions (DİSK, KESK, TTB, TMMOB, Hak-İş, United Public.); labor and trade bodies; United HAZİRAN Movement, Halkevleri, and EMEP.
Citizens, mostly waving Turkish flags and Atatürk posters, often shouted out slogans saying, ‘Side to side against the coups’; ‘No plundering; there is a Republic’; ‘Neither Sharia, nor coups’; and ‘Turkey is secular and will remain secular.’
People were allowed entrance to the Square after going through security check-points placed at Tepebaşı, İstiklal Street, Elmadağ, and Gümüşsuyu points around the square. There were a total of 5 separate entrance points to the Square, where the meeting was held after 18:00 o’clock. One hour before the start time, the Square was already completely packed.
There were also many people who joined the meeting from neighboring provinces, such as Çanakkale, Balıkesir, Edirne, Kırklareli.
There was an additional stage in front of the Gezi Park, which is adjacent to the Taksim Square.
Big banners hung around the meeting ground read: ‘No to the coups’; ‘Long live secular Turkey’; and ‘Neither the dictate, nor the coup – Long live democracy’, along with posters of Atatürk.
A group of AKP members and officials also joined the meeting
AKP Deputy Chair Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, Grand National Assembly Deputy Speaker Ayşe Nur Bahçekapılı, İstanbul Metropolitan Mayor Kadir Topbaş and Beyoğlu Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan attended the meeting, as well.
Security check in the area by CHP before the meeting
CHP delegation, formed by Deputy Chair Tekin Bingöl, İstanbul MP Engin Altay and Erdoğan Toprak, and Sarıyer Major Şükrü Genç, carried out security checks at Taksim Square before the meeting had started. Commenting on the significance of the meeting, Altay said, “We will be the host today but this meeting will turn into a major gathering where all citizens will send out the message that they are defending democracy. We came here early to check and monitor the area.” Toprak also said, “For democracy and for freedom, we are going to lay claim to democracy.”
Meeting area was surrounded by a security fence
Taksim Square was surrounded by steel a security fence and flow of traffic to the area was shut down at 14:00. Strict security precautions were taken in and around the meeting area by police, including the special operations units. Meeting area was first evacuated and detailed searches were conducted before people were allowed into the area.
The municipality and several civil society institutions, primarily Kızılay (Turkish Red Cross), distributed bottled waters and small treats to the people.
Numerous buildings, both around Taksim Square and those on İstiklal Street, were all covered with Turkish flags.