June 6, 2013

Some Headlines And Analysis From Turkey

This continues our look at what is going on in Turkey. All information given here comes from combined Turkish sources.

1. The Turkish Doctors Association has published a report on injured protesters. The report gives the following grim statistics:

  • It was reported that there were injuries in 12 cities.
  • 4355 people in total applied for injuries.
  • 2 persons are dead.
  • 47 people have severe injuries.
  • 2 persons in Ankara, 1 in Eskişehir, 3 in total are in life critical condition.
  • 18 (Severe/Broken) Head Traumas were reported.
  • 10 persons have lost their eyes.
  • 1 persons spleen is removed

  • The report also goes city by city where there have been demonstrations. We count 3 people dead; some reports say four. Read a summary of the report here.

    2. Here is a theoretical piece on the role of youth and the movement in Turkey by Burçe Çelik. The author is a participant in the movement. The opening paragraphs of the article should especially be kept in mind by activists in the west:

     Some of the banners read “we are not a political party, we are the people”, “we claim religion without AKP, Atatürk without CHP, motherland without MHP, Kurdish rights without BDP, we are the people”.

    Millions are in revolt in Turkey. Although the revolt is called the Gezi Park Resistance, it is no longer about saving trees and parks from the neoliberal capitalist governmental plan of urban renewal. Instead, it is a cry of millions of young people for more freedom and democracy. This is a historic protest of young people, belonging to different social classes, holding different sociocultural and political stands that have no political agenda other than the collective will to end state authoritarianism. It is also momentous due to its politicizing effect on millions of middle class urbanite young people who are often criticized as an apolitical digital generation by their elders. Although this uprising is mobilized and mainly consists of young people of different demographic traits, it is also supported and participated by people from all walks of life and different political stripes across the country.

    There is a tendency here in the west to put our own spin on events in Turkey and to perhaps see what is going on there now as a secular revolution. We need to step back reexamine these assumptions. That said, criticism of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) seems premature. The AKP is the reactionary governing party that has held power since 2002, the CHP is the main parliamentary opposition with social-democratic pretensions and the MHP are the ultra-right nationalists.

    The closing paragraph of Celik's piece gives a needed look ahead:

    Regardless of the particular motivation for this varied group of protesters, there is a display of alignment among the diverse young population of Turkey that wants to be heard and is determined to speak rather than accepting the role of the obedient listener. Even if all these revolts end without a gain of more democratic rights for the people of Turkey now, the political consciousness of the sheer possibility of resistance, dialogue and solidarity with others have arisen among the youth who might have a chance to transgress the social boundaries of the identity-claves. For instance, a young lady as a representative of the anti-capitalist Muslims says, “I don’t have any problems with Kemalists, secularists and others here. The problem is this ruling power that fragments us and divides us into different groups. We are together on this, because we want our rights and demand an end to the dictatorship of this party”.

    3. Bianet English reports that "Human Right Association of Turkey (IHD) officials are currently making efforts towards bringing the attention of European Court of Human Rights on the human rights violations during and after Gezi Park resistance protests." IHD Chairperson Öztürk Türkdoğan is quoted as saying, "We are facing an exceptional situation here. 4,000 people are injured and thousands have been left disappeared under detention. All the violence is happening before us, but no authorities are taking any measures. Prosecutors are just watching the violations. No police officers or those who are responsible have been suspended, no investigations are underway.”

    4. It is also reported that German Green Party co-chair Cem Özdemir has visited the contested park in Istanbul. He is quoted as saying that the protests in Turkey are "European" and he praised the young people for their "modernity." He may well be missing the point, but its good to have international solidarity.

    5. Some conservative trade union leaders have criticized the protests. The Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB), the Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (TÜRK-İŞ), the Turkish Tradesmen's and Artisans' Confederation (TESK), the Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers (TZOB), the Confederation of Turkish Real Trade Unions (Hak-İş) and the Civil Servants' Trade Union (Memur-Sen) released a joint statement warning against so-called "marginal groups with ill intentions attempting to change the meaning of the demonstrations." (Zaman) These trade union leaders are calling for "peace and stability...at this time when the entire world is struggling with problems and all eyes are on the rising country of Turkey." The statement went on to say that "Violence and fighting don't solve anything, and they make it impossible to solve problems.” This may well be tested later in June as some trade unions go on strike.

    6. Prime Minister Erdogan has returned to Turkey after his trip abroad. Hundreds of his supporters met him at the airport as thousands of protesters headed to Taksim Square in Istanbul in order to continue the protests and voice their demands. He is quoted as saying, "Among the protesters there are extremists, some of them implicated in terrorism." The trade union leaders mentioned above are essentially parroting this line. The economic response to Erdogan's return and his inflammatory statements was swift: Turkey's stock market dropped nearly 5% today.

    7. Protests in Ankara continue violent repression by police armed with tear gas and water cannons. Protesters took Kuğulu Park and the central Kızılay Square last night. Lawmakers from opposition parties (CHP, BDP and others) are expected to take part in the protests there.

    8. International supporters of the protests have been arrested in Turkey. Seven internationalists from France, Germany, Greece, Iran and the US have been arrested so far.
     
    9. Go here to see an international student solidarity video.


     


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