June 4, 2013

Turkey---The Rebellion Continues

Yesterday on this blog we examined some of the features of the rebellion spreading through Turkey. Today we can look at some new features of the rebellion and do an update.

Yesterday I directed readers to the multi-language Communist Party of Turkey blog and Bianet English for up-to-the minute reports. You can now also check whatishappeninginIstanbul.com for information. I highly recommend these sites.

The news from most sources today is emphasizing the relative calm of today's events. I believe that this shows resolve and organizing by the activists in the streets, not a withdrawal or a surrender as many sources would have it. Some internet access has been blocked and mainstream Turkish media has either downplayed the rebellion or has ignored it altogether. The following notes are again in no particular order and come from combined sources.

1. In Antalya the municipality refused to provide water for the riot control vehicles which are being used by the police against protesters, according to Doğan news agency. The municipality is led by the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). Frustrated by the mayor's refusal to authorize use of water, the police forces were forced to go to Kerpez, which is led by a ruling party member, and took the water stored in tanks there for the watering of parks and gardens. The governor’s office intervened and instructed public officials to provide the police with water under official orders. In Turkey the governors are state-appointed.

2. Street fighting continued in Istanbul. After a lull in confrontations---and after Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc apologized for the violent police response to initial protests last week---police once more attacked demonstrators in Taksim Square. Arinc is scheduled to meet with activists tomorrow. He has said that the early protests were "just and legitimate." He has also said that the demonstrations have been taken over by "terrorist elements." His comments show a division in the ruling party and in the government. Prime Minister Erdogan is calling the protests undemocratic and said that when he returns from his visits abroad that "the problems will be solved." The government continues to hint or insist that foreigners are inciting Turks to rebel. An Iranian citizen---dubbed an "Iranian agent" by right-wing Turkish media---has been arrested in connection with the rebellion.
3. In Izmir there also been some street fighting and people are in the streets celebrating.
4. The KESK trade union federation, which represents at least 240,000 public sector workers, began a two-day strike in support of the protests and accused the government of committing "state terror." The DISK federation of unions has said that it will join the protests tomorrow. KESK is generally associated with the left and DISK has been the historic trade union federation with ties to the current established social-democratic opposition.
5. My report yesterday that one young protester was shot in Hatay turned out to be wrong. The youth, twenty-two year old Abdullah Cömert, who was killed was a member of the CHP. He apparently died after being hit with tear gas canisters fired by police.
6.  The First Middle East Women's Conference is being held in Diyarbakir. Leila Khaled, a politburo member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is attending and she has issued a statement supporting the protests. Khaled said,"You have to stay in the square, in Taksim, until the government accepts your demands. Don't leave it. [Stay] there with your peaceful demonstration, your peaceful strike, sit-in. And I call upon women to join it on a wide scale everywhere, in the squares in different cities, not only in Taksim. Long live the people's struggle for their rights!" See a video of her statement here.
7. Statistics show that more than 40 percent of hotel reservations have been postponed or cancelled in Istanbul as the rebellion continues. The U.S. Embassy in Turkey has issued a warning about potential violence and the German Foreign Ministry has also urged German citizens to stay away from demonstrations. 

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