Istanbul, June 1 () - Turkey's three leading opposition parties slammed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over what they portrayed as a weakened democracy, worsened economy and botched Syria policy during their rallies.
"Would you say 'yes' to HDP to end the system of slavery?" the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş asked hundreds of thousands of his party's supporters during their campaign rally at Kazlıçeşme Square in Istanbul.
Blaming the government for polarizing the country, Demirtaş stressed that the ruling party supporters who came to a nearby square to listen to President Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu "are also brothers and sisters."
"They are not our enemy. We will live together. Do they have the courage to say the same thing?" he asked.
At one point, Demirtaş interrupted his speech out of respect for the Islamic call to prayer that was heard at the square, where Turkish flags were waved together with the flags of HDP and Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), as well as the symbols of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Portraits of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk were also in the square.
Demirtaş then said that a vote cast for the HDP would mean that Turkey's new parliament "will not decide to wage war" and its deputies would be "honest workers, not thieves."
"We will care about the oppressed. We won't be involved in any dirty business" he added.
Daily Cumhuriyet published images on May 29 allegedly showing Turkey's National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks carrying weapons into Syria early last year before officials launched a criminal probe into the newspaper and issued a gag order.
MHP chair: Violence, terror and barbarity plans
In his party's election rally in the eastern province in Erzurum on May 30, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chair Devlet Bahçeli also touched upon the issue. "Violence, terror and barbarity plans of Erdoğan and Davutoğlu have been found in MİT's trucks" Bahçeli said. "With what authority did Erdoğan send weapons to groups with blood on their hands? What was their interest?" he asked.
In an interview with AFP on May 30, Davutoğlu said he could not comment fully on the issue because of "state secrecy," but said Turkey provided the Syrian people and the Free Syrian Army with assistance, without specifying whether the aid was of a military nature.
PM Davutoğlu: Those aids were for Turkmens in Syria
Turkish PM directly responded to Bahçeli's accusation in his own election rally in Ankara.
"I'll say it with no hesitation: Those aids were going to our Turkmen brothers in Bayırbucak" Davutoğlu said, using the Turkish name of the region around the Syrian city of Latakia.
He added that the publication of photographs amounted to "espionage" as they were "state secret."
Shortly after the Cumhuriyet’s report, a Turkish prosecutor had imposed a gag order on the media and launched a criminal investigation into whether the daily breached terrorism laws by publishing the footage. Charges include "obtaining information on state security" "political and military espionage" and "propaganda for a terrorist organisation."
President Erdoğan, meanwhile, accused the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, his erstwhile ally, over the incident. Referring to allegedly Gülenist judiciary and security officials, Erdoğan said in Istanbul on May 30: "They stole the lives of our brothers in Syria by stopping the assistance we sent for them. They shamelessly engaged in speculations regarding the aid sent to Bayırbucak Turkmens. This is espionage and they will give an account."
CHP chair: AKP's model is Pope, but not Prophet Mohammad
The main opposition Republican People's Party chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, on the other hand, opted to keep focusing on economic issues during his campaign rally in the western Black Sea province of Zonguldak on May 30.
"The government spent $5.5 billion for 2 million Syrian brothers in Turkey," Kılıçdaroğlu noted, slamming the ruling AKP for labelling CHP's electoral promises to millions of voters as "populism."
"They bought luxury cars for themselves, wasting billions of liras from your pocket. And now they say that Pope [Francis] has a car, too. If you are a good Muslim, why wouldn't you take our dear Prophet [Mohammad], who lived a humble life, as a model?" he asked, promising local miners a better future after the upcoming election.