U.S. Embassy in Turkey issues warning over opposition rally in Istanbul

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey on Thursday issued a warning on a demonstration to be led by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in İstanbul over the weekend, warning U.S. nationals that there was a “strong possibility” of the police intervention at the rally.

The CHP is set to hold a rally in Istanbul’s Maltepe district on Saturday to demonstrate the prison sentence handed down to the party’s Istanbul chairwoman Canan Kaftancıoğlu. 

“The Turkish National Police have used measures. including water cannons, tear gas, and non-lethal projectiles, to control crowds at protests in the past, “ the U.S. Embassy said as it urged vigilance and called for U.S. citizens to monitor local media for updates.

Dubbed the “Voice of the Nation” rally, the protest arrives following national and international backlash over an almost five-year sentence given to the top CHP official on charges of  including insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and terror propaganda. Critics maintain the sentence against Kaftancıoğlu. months before the next elections, is politically motivated.

The government of Erdoğan has come under criticism over heavy-handed police interventions with demonstrations, including the use of disproportionate force, batons, water cannons, pepper spray and rubber bullets against protestors.

Law enforcement officers used force against at least 334 peaceful meetings and demonstrations in 2021, according to an annual report by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) İstanbul MP. At least 3,500 citizens were taken into custody and some of them arrested, according to the report.

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