You will never walk alone, opposition tells politician facing jail

Turkish social media users are showing their support to Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the Istanbul provincial head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) who is facing up to 17-years in prison for social media posts from six years ago, using the hashtag “#CananKaftancıoğluYalnızDeğildir – Canan Kaftancıoğlu is not alone.

Kaftancıoğlu is highly praised by the Turkish opposition as the person behind the success of new mayor elect Ekrem İmamoğlu, since she played a pivotal role in the CHP’s communication strategy and electoral monitoring. 

The politician will appear in court tomorrow over charges of insulting the Turkish president and the state, provoking animosity, and terror propaganda for her social media posts from six years ago.

The prosecutors seek a prison sentence of up to 17 years for Kaftancıoğlu. The Istanbul chief says she posted all but one of the tweets mentioned in the indictment, but she denies the accusations against her. 

Kaftancıoğlu has been regularly targeted by pro-government media since she was elected as the CHP’s Istanbul provincial chair in January 2018. The politician, who was also criticised by some members of the CHP for her liberal stance, has been backed by party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Following the CHP’s victory in Istanbul rerun on June 23, Kaftancıoğlu has become highly popular among opposition voters on social media, while pro-government accounts accuse her of “eating pork”, a meat prohibited to Muslims, and supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

“With the Istanbul organisation headed by Kaftancıoğlu, the CHP received the highest number of votes from the right-wing in its history. It shows that we should leave thinking with frozen mentalities,” one Twitter user said, adding that opposition voters would not let Kaftancıoğlu be “swallowed by fascism”.

Collective Memory Platform, an initiative founded by the families of the victims who were killed in unsolved political assassinations, on Wednesday said in a written statement that the lawsuit filed against Kaftancığlu was the government's attempt to take punitive action for its election defeat due to her role in İstanbul election win, Bianet reported. 

“Canan Kaftancıoğlu is a physician and politician who has spent her life struggling for human rights, equality and justice, prioritising not herself, but her country and modernity and keeps standing behind her principles,” the organisation said.