The 270-mile "Justice March" to oppose President Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on journalists, academics, and opposition leaders led by the Republican People's Party (CHP) entered its 14th day on Monday, July 3. The march began on June 15 in Ankara and is planned to go all the way to the Maltepe prison in Istanbul, located some 432 km (268 mi) away.
The march, led by the CHP's leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has gained over 10,000 new marchers since last week, according to reports. While Erdogan has hinted that Kilincdaroglu may be arrested, the march has been allowed to continue, with police and military units providing protection to the protesters.
Due to the current state of emergency, high sociopolitical tensions, and heightened police presence, outbreaks of violence are possible along the march route in the coming days.
The march is believed to be an attempt by the CHP, Turkey's main opposition party, to connect with citizens and to help build a larger coalition outside of its secularist base. Much of the march goes through traditionally conservative parts of Turkey, where President Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) generally has more support relative to the CHP.
Critics of Turkey's state of emergency, implemented after a failed military coup in July 2016, cite a heavy-handed crackdown on opposition elements across the country under the guise of national security. Over 50,000 people have been arrested under the state of emergency, including over 170 journalists and a dozen lawmakers. Over 140,000 public workers have been fired, including tens of thousands of civil servants, prosecutors, and teachers, and several thousand academics.
A recent constitutional referendum granting Erdogan additional powers has exacerbated the country's already-heightened sociopolitical tensions. Additionally, Turkey has suffered repeated bombings and other attacks since the establishment of Islamic State (IS) in neighboring Iraq and Syria, as well as since the 2015 collapse of a long-term ceasefire between the government and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy. In recent months, the Turkish military has intensified its airstrikes and military operations against the PKK.
Individuals in Turkey are advised to avoid all demonstrations and rallies, follow any instructions issued by the local authorities, and carry proper identification at all times (e.g. passport).
Due to the prevailing threat of terrorism, report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities and maintain a high degree of vigilance, especially when visiting sites deemed particularly vulnerable to an attack (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, festivals, etc.). Some Western governments advise against travel to areas along the Syrian and Iraqi borders.