June 25, 2013

Some Headlines From Turkey Today

News continues to come to us about the situation in Turkey despite the media blackout and the intimidation of journalists by Turkish authorities. Here are some items of interest from today's news.

1. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, a leader of the main parliamentary opposition to Erdoğan's government and the ruling party, has referred to Erdoğan as “the new dictator of Turkey” while speaking to a party meeting in Parliament. Kılıçdaroğlu also praised the Gezi Park protesters and counted what they have accomplished so far as a victory. His faction chanted “Resign Erdoğan!” as he spoke. Most meaningful to me are these remarks he made as published in some Turkish media:

“Our 52 citizens lost their lives in the Reyhanlı bombings. And he (Erdoğan) said ‘our 52 Sunni citizens lost their lives.’ For the first time in Turkey’s history even the sects of deaths were discriminated.” 

2. We have previously mentioned in passing on this blog the rape of a 16-year old woman in Bingöl and the suspicion that five police were involved in numerous assaults of the victim and a cover-up. The movement in Turkey has taken up this case and protests are being held as four suspects were picked up and later released from police custody. One suspect has now been formally arrested and it is possible that the number of suspects will rise.

3. Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chairperson Gültan Kışanak has said that the peace process underway between the Kurdish people and the Turkish government will fail without democracy. She made the point that the Kurdish people and the BDP have sacrificed much in the process and that now the government must step forward and fulfil its promises. She is also quoted as saying, "The national will cannot be measured with numbers.” Kışanak's point was that democracy is about much more than elections, as the ruling party would have it. Kışanak also charged that a cover-up of the shooting of Ethem Sarısülük by police during the protests is being attempted. We have previously mentioned Ethem Sarısülük on this blog.

4. Firatnews.com reports that police raids in Ankara aimed at protesters have led to the arrests today of at least 20 people. These police operations are on-going and more arrests are expected.

5. Firatnews.com also reports that police have arrested 20 workers at a dam construction site near Amed (Diyarbakir). It is assumed that those arrested are either strikers or union members and activists. There was a strike at the site recently. The  Democratic Society Congress (DTK) is supporting those arrested and has called on the Kurdish people and seasonal agricultural workers to build their organizations and to struggle for freedom and equality.

6. Murat Karayılan, a leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has told the German magazine Die Welt that he expects that PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan will be freed from prison if the third phase of the peace process between the government and the Kurdish people is carried out. The process is now in its second phase. Karayılan also voiced suspicion over the intentions of the main nationalist party and the main parliamentary opposition Republican People’s Party. He added that there remains in Turkey "...secret powers...there is a deep state." He called on the government to take the demands of the people seriously.

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