June 5, 2013

Twenty-Four Hours In Turkey

We continue to watch and comment on events in Turkey. Some international media are now talking about democracy in a "post-protest Turkey" but I think that this is a situation where we cannot believe the hype. As with the previous posts on Turkey, the following is offered in no particular order of importance and readers are directed to Bianet English, whatishappeninginistanbul.com and the Communist Party of Turkey's Facebook page. I am drawing these reports from combined Turkish sources.

1. Ankara, Turkey's capital, saw mass demonstrations with a strong union presence today. The main demand was that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan resign. Predictably, police responded with tear gas and water cannons. The   government has been forced to defended its record after the United Nations, the United States and other western powers voiced concern over reports of police brutality.

2. Yesterday we mentioned protests, street fighting and a celebratory mood in Izmir. At least 29 people have been arrested there for encouraging rebellion over social media and tweeting.

3. The Human Rights Association, based in Ankara, says up to 1,000 people have been injured and more than 3,300 people have been detained over five days of protests. These figures seem low, but the Human Rights Association also  demanded that all officials responsible for the repression be removed from office.

4. Ethem Sarısülük of Ankara is the third person to die from police repression.

5. Taksim Platform members met with Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç today in Ankara and demanded an end to police violence, the protection of the green space and an end to the use of tear gas against protesters.

Taksim Platform's demands are as follows:
  • Gezi Park should remain as a park with no construction permitted on its grounds;
  • The Ataturk Culture Center should not be demolished;
  • Law enforcement officers who have escalated the violence should be investigated and removed from office;
  • The use of tear gas should be banned;
  • All protesters under custody should be unconditionally released;
  • All obstacles preventing freedom of expression should be lifted.
There has been no report on how the meeting went, but it is unlikely that the government will be able to respond in a unified way so long as Erdogan is out of the country. He has promised a swift and repressive response when he returns, as we have noted in previous posts.

6. The 29 people arrested and held overnight in İzmir range in age from 18 to 24. Their major offense seems to be using Twitter  Erdogan has described Twitter as “trouble” following heavy traffic on Twitter that has taken place since the rebellion began. “There is a trouble called Twitter. Unmitigated lies are there,” Erdoğan said. “The thing that is called social media is a troublemaker in societies today.”

7. Right-wing thugs attacked protesters today in Rize, Erdogan's home. The demonstrators are members of the left-nationalist Turkish Youth Union (TGB). At least one person suffered injuries.

8. Protesters in Istanbul have created a memorial street in the Gezi Park area they are holding named after Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian left-leaning journalist who was assassinated in Istanbul in 2007.

9. The spontaneous nature of the rebellion continues, with people forming committees and the movement in Istanbul holding what amounts to liberated space (Gezi Park). Political organizations have moved their banners, tables and booths to nearby Taksim Square while in the park there are union banners, protest signs, a library, food and meetings.     

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