Turkey summons US envoy over embassy's Istanbul rally warning

Turkey summons US envoy over embassy's Istanbul rally warning
2 min read
23 May, 2022
Turkey's foreign ministry has summoned US Ambassador Jeffry Flake to express its 'grievances' following a statement from the US embassy warning Americans not to attend mass rallies in Istanbul.
The US embassy said rallies in Turkey 'can be unpredictable and at times become violent' [source: Getty]

Turkey has summoned US Ambassador to Ankara Jeffry Flake following an embassy warning ahead of a rally in Istanbul, reported Turkish state-run media. 

The US embassy posted a warning that police in Turkey might respond violently to an opposition rally on Saturday and urged American citizens to avoid demonstrations. 

Turkey’s foreign ministry told the diplomat that the statement contained “unfounded claims” and argued that US police frequently used disproportionate force against protesters in American cities, according to Anadolu Agency. 

"It is unacceptable to create the impression that there is an important problem in this regard in Turkey," the ministry said. 

Flake was told by ministry officials that "political parties' rallies are a deep-rooted tradition of Turkish democracy", according to Anadolu

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Thousands gathered in Istanbul on Saturday to protest the conviction of leading Turkish opposition figure Canan Kaftancioglu. 

Kaftancioglu, who heads the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul branch, was sentenced to just under five years in jail for insulting the president and state. 

Turkey’s main opposition figure, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the CHP, spoke at the rally, calling on communities to join forces against Turkey’s longtime leader President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Despite the US warning, no incidents of violence were reported at the gathering in Maltepe, a district of Istanbul. 

The following day, Turkey released a statement to its citizens in the US urging them to avoid large gatherings for their own safety. The foreign ministry said US security units had used "real bullets, electroshocks, and tear gas" against demonstrators in the past, reported Anadolu

Turkey is set to have a general election next year. 

The CHP has been in talks with other opposition parties to create a coalition with the common goal of defeating Erdogan who it accuses of grossly mismanaging the economy and orchestrating an authoritarian crackdown on dissenting voices.