June 20, 2013

24 Hours In Rebellious Turkey

We continue to cover some significant events in Turkey.

1. In the early morning hours police in Izmir raided the protester's encampment on Gündoğdu Square and arrested about 30 people. Protesters formed a human chain against the brutal police intervention and attempted to negotiate with the police without success.

2. Late yesterday we received word that three members of  Çarşı, a prominent club of supporters of the  Beşiktaş futbol club, were released on bail. They had been held after being arrested for taking part in Istanbul's  Gezi Park resistance. Two other members of the club were meanwhile arrested for carrying guns. Twenty-eight other demonstrators in Istanbul have also been released. Some 94 protesters in Istanbul are now facing charges of provoking violence.

The significance of the Çarşı releases and arrests is, to my thinking, that futbol support clubs often have a working-class base. Twenty-some members of  Çarşı are facing charges of organizing acts of violence and inciting illegal protests. The prosecutor handling their cases is trying to prove that they were paid to join the protests and this charge is based on an alleged phone conversation between two Çarşı members that was supposedly intercepted by police. The prosecutor is also charging that Çarşı members planned to raid the Prime Minister's office in Istanbul. Those arrested deny these charges.

3. Graduating students at the Ankara University Political Science department wore masks with the image of Ethem Sarısülük on the podium yesterday. Sarısülük was killed by police fire during the Gezi Park protests. The graduating students also carried banners protesting the recent acquittal of soldiers who were accused of rape and police violence in general. The banners read “Do you hear our voice? This is the reaction of ‘90s generation. They will never be others’ slaves”, “We die once and resurrect thousands” and “Rape. Soldier. Bingöl. Mouths shut!” The student protest was powerful.

4. Thousands of protesters gathered in Mersin today to protest against Prime Minister Erdoğan. Erdoğan is visiting Mersin to open the 2013 Mediterranean Games, which many see as a step towards the Olympic Games which will be held in Turkey in 2020. Police attacked the protesters and raided their encampment. Tickets for the opening ceremonies of the 2013 Mediterranean Games sold out within 15 minutes of going on sale, all supposedly purchased by one unnamed buyer or syndicate. This meant that local people could not attend the opening events. Erdoğan used his appearance at the Mersin Games to rally support for the governing party.

5.  Thirty-two members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) were referred to the courts today. About sixty-seven members and leaders of the ESP are now in custody. Thirty-five other ESP members will face charges tomorrow.

The People's Democratic Congress (HDK) and the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) have both condemned the repression directed at the ESP. The leadership of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) have issued a statement saying that the attacks on the ESP and the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP) are aimed particularly at the Kurdish movement. This repression deadlocks the peace process underway between the government and the Kurdish people.

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