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Cablegate: Rally in Istanbul Against Military and Judicial

VZCZCXRO2872
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #0347 1771358
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251358Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8277
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA PRIORITY 2361
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000347

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: RALLY IN ISTANBUL AGAINST MILITARY AND JUDICIAL
INTERVENTION

1. (U) On June 21 a reported 20,000 people gathered on
Istiklal Boulevard to protest anti-democratic practices
in Turkey. The march, called "70 Million Steps against
Coups," was widely publicized in ads sponsored by the
Young Civilians (Genc Siviller) in the major daily papers.
The event, which had not been approved in advance by the
local authorities, did not draw a significant police
response. The event was planned in cooperation with a
diverse group of left-of-center NGOs including the Global
Action Group, the Association of Human Rights and
Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples, Say Stop to Racism and
Nationalism, Lamda, and the Movement for Political
Horizons. Considerable support was also drawn from the
Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP). Supporters of the
ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were apparently
absent from the demonstration. A statement read during the
rally said civilians and NGOs had gathered in opposition to
the military's alleged influence in the Constitutional
Court's recent overruling of the headscarf amendment and
anticipated closure of the AKP and DTP.

2. (U) The demonstration received relatively limited media
coverage, although commentary tended to be polarized. Bulent
Kenes, editor of the Islamist-leaning Today's Zaman, wrote
that the march represented "a flare that shows that any sort
of army-oriented, anti-democratic intervention, in whatever
guise it may take, will no longer go unanswered." The ultra-
nationalistic Tercuman carried the more radical headline
"Those Opposed to Nationalism Take to the Streets,"
questioning the demonstrators' loyalty to the state.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: The AKP's decision to stay away from the
march signals their reluctance to be associated with acts
that the Turkish military and judiciary might construe as
destabilizing and could potentially be used as fodder in
the on-going closure case. END COMMENT
WIENER

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