Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory in a Sunday referendum designed to give the president massive new powers — including bringing back the death penalty — but opponents state they will challenge the narrow victory.
The protesters believe the referendum was foul and victory was achieved through intimidation and fraud.
People have taken to the streets banging pots and pans against the referendum, which could mean Erdogan remains in power till 2029. The protesters, many of them university students below the age of 30, wore colorful masks shouting “No!” and beat drums, pots and pans as they marched Istiklal Street in Istanbul.
The campaigners have also plastered the city walls with colorful graffiti depicting the Turkish president as a clown and showing a child weeping under the burning flag of Turkey. They also sang songs about freedom and democracy as they campaigned against the president.
The banging of pots and pans has a significant importance in Turkey’s politics. Unlike in some western countries, where pots and banged are banged to celebrate the New Year’s Eve, crockery is used as a symbolic gesture to be heard. Pots and pans were also used in a 2013 anti-Erdogan protest in the country.
However, once it was announced the president had won the referendum, Erdogan supporters swarmed the streets and started “hunting” down his protesters.
VIDEO: Erdogan supporters attack the people protesting referendum results in ?zmir's Bornova. pic.twitter.com/niWtzqAUh2— Turkey Untold (@TurkeyUntold) April 16, 2017
In a shocking video making rounds on social media, a group of men is shown chasing down people. A person, fleeing his pursuers, stumbles and falls. In seconds, he is surrounded by half a dozen Erdogan supporters who punch him, kick him and even release a dog on him.
Turkey’s two main opposition parties are now challenging two-thirds of the vote, stating, “'There is an indication of a 3-4 percentage point manipulation of the vote.”
The deputy head of the Republican People's Party, Bulent Tezcan said, “We will pursue a legal battle. If the irregularities are not fixed, there will be a serious legitimacy discussion.”