The Turkish Uprising: What’s happening in Turkey right now
March 14, 2014

A fresh new wave of protests is rocking Turkey, as tens of thousands march on the streets to demonstrate against the government. But unlike what’s going on in Ukraine and Venezuela, the protests in Turkey mark a second, renewed round of protests that began last summer. 

Protests began with the death of a teenager named Berkin Elvan, who was in a nine-month coma after being injured during last year’s government rallies. Thousands attended his funeral in Istanbul and marched in the streets afterwards.

Tens of thousands are also protesting across Turkey, especially in big cities such as Ankara and Izmir. 

The government’s response has been to send riot police to clash with the protesters. The tactics have mostly been restricted to tear gas, water cannons and beatings. It seems that police may have forgotten that’s how Elvan died — he suffered a head injury when he was hit in the head with a tear gas canister. He was passing by the protests to go buy bread for his family.

On Wednesday, a protester died from a head injury while a police officer also passed away from a heart attack.

Around 36 children were arrested in Ankara for protesting on the streets. Over a hundred people were also arrested in Izmir. Students across the country are also organizing school boycotts and sit-ins.

Elvan’s death marks the eighth casualty resulting from last year’s protests. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has yet to comment on Elvan’s death.

Protests began last year over the development of Gezi Park in Istanbul, although it quickly spread into a widespread anti-government demonstration.

Turkey will hold local elections on Mar. 30. Erdogan has promised to step down if his ruling AK Party loses power.

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15-year-old Gezi victim Berkin Elvan dies after 269 days in comaMarch 12, 2014
Berkin Elvan, who has been in a coma since June 2013 after being struck in the head by a gas canister during a police crackdown on protesters, died March 11, his family announced via Twitter.“To our people: We lost our son Berkin Elvan at 7 a.m. in the morning. Condolences to us all,” Elvan’s parents said in the message.The young teenager, the eighth person to be killed in the Gezi Park protests, went into a coma after sustaining a head injury from a gas canister as he went to buy bread during a police crackdown in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood last June. Elvan has since become one of the prime symbols violence faced by protesters throughout the nationwide Gezi demonstrations.He had only turned 15 in January while still in a coma. A ceremony will be held at a cemevi in Okmeydanı before the burial in Feriköy cemetery on March 12.
Scores of people gathered in front of the hospital where Elvan was convalescent for over nine months, in a show of solidarity with the family upon calls on social media.Tension rose between a group of demonstrators and the police, which again resorted to tear gas regardless of the fact that the hospital’s entrance was nearby.“Riot police arrived in front of the hospital as the funeral was ongoing to be sent to the forensics department. Some people also went that way and protested against the police. A scuffle occurred. The police officers did not restrain themselves at all from using gas. They once again used disproportionate force,” said Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul lawmaker Melda Onur, who was participating in the vigil. “Tear gas even entered inside the hospital,” she added.Onur also said a child was brought into the hospital after being injured due a tear gas canister.Another man, who was going to the hospital to visit his sick wife, was also injured after being hit in his head by a tear gas canister.Tributes also poured in under the hashtag #BerkinElvanÖlümsüzdür (“Berkin Elvan is immortal”).Dozens of protests are planned in cities around the country for this evening.
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15-year-old Gezi victim Berkin Elvan dies after 269 days in coma
March 12, 2014

Berkin Elvan, who has been in a coma since June 2013 after being struck in the head by a gas canister during a police crackdown on protesters, died March 11, his family announced via Twitter.

“To our people: We lost our son Berkin Elvan at 7 a.m. in the morning. Condolences to us all,” Elvan’s parents said in the message.

The young teenager, the eighth person to be killed in the Gezi Park protests, went into a coma after sustaining a head injury from a gas canister as he went to buy bread during a police crackdown in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood last June. Elvan has since become one of the prime symbols violence faced by protesters throughout the nationwide Gezi demonstrations.

He had only turned 15 in January while still in a coma. A ceremony will be held at a cemevi in Okmeydanı before the burial in Feriköy cemetery on March 12.

Scores of people gathered in front of the hospital where Elvan was convalescent for over nine months, in a show of solidarity with the family upon calls on social media.

Tension rose between a group of demonstrators and the police, which again resorted to tear gas regardless of the fact that the hospital’s entrance was nearby.

“Riot police arrived in front of the hospital as the funeral was ongoing to be sent to the forensics department. Some people also went that way and protested against the police. A scuffle occurred. The police officers did not restrain themselves at all from using gas. They once again used disproportionate force,” said Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul lawmaker Melda Onur, who was participating in the vigil. “Tear gas even entered inside the hospital,” she added.

Onur also said a child was brought into the hospital after being injured due a tear gas canister.

Another man, who was going to the hospital to visit his sick wife, was also injured after being hit in his head by a tear gas canister.

Tributes also poured in under the hashtag #BerkinElvanÖlümsüzdür (“Berkin Elvan is immortal”).

Dozens of protests are planned in cities around the country for this evening.

Full article

In its latest attempt to silence & threaten the safety protesters, Turkey has made it illegal to give emergency medical aid without the government’s say so:
Turkish government measures curbing the freedom of doctors in administering emergency treatment have been condemned by medical and human rights groups, with professionals accusing the government of intimidation and seeking to criminalise urgent assistance to street protesters.
President Abdullah Gül signed into law the contested bill drawn up by the government of the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, compelling doctors and health professionals to apply for government permission before they may administer emergency first aid.
Medical personnel could face jail terms of three years and fines of up to 2.25m lira (£600,000) for breaking the law. The crackdown by the governing Justice and Development party (AKP) is seen as the latest in a long line of repressive measures enacted since Turkey was rocked by a wave of anti-government street protests last summer.
The legislation is part of an omnibus bill approved by parliament this month. Critics denounced it as an attempt to criminalise doctors and silence dissent.
Dr Vincent Iacopino, of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), said: “Passing a bill that criminalises emergency care and punishes those who care for injured protesters is part of the Turkish government’s relentless effort to silence any opposing voices. This kind of targeting of the medical community is not only repugnant, but puts everyone’s health at risk.”
Dr Hande Arpat, of the Ankara Chamber of Medical Doctors, who volunteered during last summer’s protests, said the government had written medical history by passing a law that runs counter to all principles of medical care.
"Not only does the law go against all of our professional and ethical duties, [and] international human rights agreements that Turkey is party to, but it also contradicts the Turkish criminal code that obliges all medical professionals to provide medical aid to those who need it," he said.

In its latest attempt to silence & threaten the safety protesters, Turkey has made it illegal to give emergency medical aid without the government’s say so:

Turkish government measures curbing the freedom of doctors in administering emergency treatment have been condemned by medical and human rights groups, with professionals accusing the government of intimidation and seeking to criminalise urgent assistance to street protesters.

President Abdullah Gül signed into law the contested bill drawn up by the government of the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, compelling doctors and health professionals to apply for government permission before they may administer emergency first aid.

Medical personnel could face jail terms of three years and fines of up to 2.25m lira (£600,000) for breaking the law. The crackdown by the governing Justice and Development party (AKP) is seen as the latest in a long line of repressive measures enacted since Turkey was rocked by a wave of anti-government street protests last summer.

The legislation is part of an omnibus bill approved by parliament this month. Critics denounced it as an attempt to criminalise doctors and silence dissent.

Dr Vincent Iacopino, of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), said: “Passing a bill that criminalises emergency care and punishes those who care for injured protesters is part of the Turkish government’s relentless effort to silence any opposing voices. This kind of targeting of the medical community is not only repugnant, but puts everyone’s health at risk.”

Dr Hande Arpat, of the Ankara Chamber of Medical Doctors, who volunteered during last summer’s protests, said the government had written medical history by passing a law that runs counter to all principles of medical care.

"Not only does the law go against all of our professional and ethical duties, [and] international human rights agreements that Turkey is party to, but it also contradicts the Turkish criminal code that obliges all medical professionals to provide medical aid to those who need it," he said.

Teachers’ Day protests in Turkey met with violent police repressionNovember 23, 2013
Hundreds of teachers faced a police crackdown on Nov. 23 as they joined in a march in Ankara to protest the government’s policies on education on the occasion of Teachers’ Day. Seven protesters were injured during the crackdown, while one female teacher sustained cerebral trauma due to the impact of a gas canister fired by the police.
The teacher, Aslı Akdemir, has been transferred to the hospital. Doctors said although severe, her injury wasn’t life-threatening.
The demonstrators, who came to Ankara from all over Turkey, assembled at the iconic Tandoğan Square on a call from the teachers’ union Eğitim-Sen. However, the police did not allow the crowd to pursue their march past Kızılay Square, resorting to tear gas and water cannons after the demonstrators forced police barricades,  aiming to pursue their protest.
Police chased the teachers in side streets surrounding Kızılay Square. Two people were detained, the Daily Hürriyet reported.
Tension on education rose this week after the government announced plans to change the status of test prep institutions, known as dershanes, transforming them into private schools. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said they would not back down on the measure. The test prep institutions have been criticized for favoring the high-income families.
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Teachers’ Day protests in Turkey met with violent police repression
November 23, 2013

Hundreds of teachers faced a police crackdown on Nov. 23 as they joined in a march in Ankara to protest the government’s policies on education on the occasion of Teachers’ Day. Seven protesters were injured during the crackdown, while one female teacher sustained cerebral trauma due to the impact of a gas canister fired by the police.

The teacher, Aslı Akdemir, has been transferred to the hospital. Doctors said although severe, her injury wasn’t life-threatening.

The demonstrators, who came to Ankara from all over Turkey, assembled at the iconic Tandoğan Square on a call from the teachers’ union Eğitim-Sen. However, the police did not allow the crowd to pursue their march past Kızılay Square, resorting to tear gas and water cannons after the demonstrators forced police barricades,  aiming to pursue their protest.

Police chased the teachers in side streets surrounding Kızılay Square. Two people were detained, the Daily Hürriyet reported.

Tension on education rose this week after the government announced plans to change the status of test prep institutions, known as dershanes, transforming them into private schools. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said they would not back down on the measure. The test prep institutions have been criticized for favoring the high-income families.

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Turkish citizens face increasing human-rights violations; now at risk for arrest under ‘suspicion’ of being a protester
October 7, 2013

A new regulation will allow Turkish police to detain those who possess the “risk of conducting a protest” from 12 to 24 hours without the demand of a prosecutor or a judge, prompting acute worries from opposition deputies.

The new regulations that will be conducted jointly by the justice and interior ministries will allow the police to detain a suspect who “may hold a protest” for up to 24 hours without any court decision while also increasing the penalties for resistance to police and damaging public property. 

The move to strengthen police powers was precipitated by the countrywide Gezi Park protests, which began at the end of May. Organizations which “tend to hold protests” will be monitored and their members could be detained by police if intelligence reports suggest they are planning to conduct a demonstration or action. 

A judge will also be able to extend the 24-hour detention period if desired. Under the current law, a judge’s or prosecutor’s order is necessary to detain people in such cases. The regulations will also increase the penalties for resistance to police and damage to public property. Those who possess Molotov cocktails might be sentenced to up to five years in prison under the new regulations. The draft also includes a board to regulate security forces, which will monitor malpractice within the institutions.

Criticizing the moves, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy leader Semih Yalçın said the regulations were “signs of police state.” 

“These attempts might drag the country into chaos. The governments who attempt to do that will end in vain,” Yalçın told daily Hürriyet Oct. 6. 

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Ali Serindağ said the regulation did not comply with the rule of law. “Giving the security forces such an authority without the permission of a prosecutor does not comply with rule of law. … Besides, the police must be well trained in intervening against demonstrations,” he added. 

Another CHP deputy, İlhan Cihaner, described the regulation as a step behind “the inquisition” and “beyond fascism.”

“Now you can be detained just for being you even though you didn’t attend any protest,” Cihaner said.

Source

Fresh protests spark fears over pending tear gas shipments in TurkeySeptember 13, 2013
All countries should suspend shipments of tear gas, armoured vehicles and other riot control projectile equipment to Turkey until the Turkish authorities can guarantee protesters’ right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, Amnesty International said. The call comes as police have again abusively used large amounts of tear gas and water cannon to disperse protests – some of them violent – in Istanbul and other cities around the country in the past three days. This new round of demonstrations was sparked when a young protester was killed in unclear circumstances as police responded to a demonstration in the southern province of Hatay early on Tuesday. “The Turkish police’s return to the abusive use of force in response to demonstrations underscores the need for all countries to suspend shipments of tear gas and other riot control projectile equipment and armoured policing vehicles to Turkey, until steps are taken to prevent such deaths and injuries,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.“We’re calling on governments to take a stand and press Turkey to respect the right to peaceful protest and end the abusive use of force.”  New supplies of tear gas According to media reports, the Turkish police authorities have requested an extraordinary order of riot control equipment – including 100,000 canisters of tear gas and more than 100 armoured vehicles. The tear gas may be supplied from Brazil, India, South Korea and the USA, four of its previous suppliers. Some reports have alleged an even larger order has been placed and that the National Police had already bought 150,000 cartridges in 2013 in line with their annual procurement plan.The new supplies will replenish stocks that were greatly depleted or damaged earlier this year when police misused tear gas canisters and other chemical irritants, like pepper spray and water cannon, as well as used plastic bullets in excessive force against peaceful protests that began in late May. Ahmet Atakan’s death At the time of his death in the early hours of Tuesday, Ahmet Atakan had been taking part in a demonstration against – amongst other things – the death of another protester, Abdullah Cömert, after being struck with a tear gas canister fired by police on 3 June. There are still conflicting reports over what led to Atakan’s death – the authorities assert he fell from a building, while some eyewitnesses claim he was also hit with a tear gas canister. An investigation into the death is ongoing. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to ensure that the investigation is prompt, impartial and effective.Ongoing misuse of tear gasIn response to the protests since May, Turkish police and security forces have used tear gas, plastic bullets and water cannon in excessive, unwarranted and arbitrary ways to disperse protesters. The Turkish Medical Association has reported that more than 8,000 people were injured at the scene of demonstrations. There is strong evidence linking three of the five earlier deaths connected with the Gezi Park protests to the abusive use of force by the police. According to media reports, Turkish police used 130,000 tear gas cartridges during the first 20 days of the demonstrations. This greatly depleted the 150,000 cartridges budgeted for in the police force’s annual procurement plan. Amnesty International and other organizations reported from the ground how tear gas was misused in confined areas where it poses an increased health risk. “Several months have passed and the Turkish authorities have yet to conduct independent and impartial investigations into the widespread and abusive use of force by police against peaceful protesters in Istanbul and other cities,” said Gardner.“International partners – including in the European Union – must urge the Turkish authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the excessive use of force and ensure that all police are properly trained in how to respond to peaceful protests in line with international standards.”
Full articlePhoto by Jenna Pope

Fresh protests spark fears over pending tear gas shipments in Turkey
September 13, 2013

All countries should suspend shipments of tear gas, armoured vehicles and other riot control projectile equipment to Turkey until the Turkish authorities can guarantee protesters’ right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, Amnesty International said. 

The call comes as police have again abusively used large amounts of tear gas and water cannon to disperse protests – some of them violent – in Istanbul and other cities around the country in the past three days. This new round of demonstrations was sparked when a young protester was killed in unclear circumstances as police responded to a demonstration in the southern province of Hatay early on Tuesday. 

“The Turkish police’s return to the abusive use of force in response to demonstrations underscores the need for all countries to suspend shipments of tear gas and other riot control projectile equipment and armoured policing vehicles to Turkey, until steps are taken to prevent such deaths and injuries,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

“We’re calling on governments to take a stand and press Turkey to respect the right to peaceful protest and end the abusive use of force.”  

New supplies of tear gas 
According to media reports, the Turkish police authorities have requested an extraordinary order of riot control equipment – including 100,000 canisters of tear gas and more than 100 armoured vehicles. The tear gas may be supplied from Brazil, India, South Korea and the USA, four of its previous suppliers. Some reports have alleged an even larger order has been placed and that the National Police had already bought 150,000 cartridges in 2013 in line with their annual procurement plan.

The new supplies will replenish stocks that were greatly depleted or damaged earlier this year when police misused tear gas canisters and other chemical irritants, like pepper spray and water cannon, as well as used plastic bullets in excessive force against peaceful protests that began in late May. 

Ahmet Atakan’s death 
At the time of his death in the early hours of Tuesday, Ahmet Atakan had been taking part in a demonstration against – amongst other things – the death of another protester, Abdullah Cömert, after being struck with a tear gas canister fired by police on 3 June. 

There are still conflicting reports over what led to Atakan’s death – the authorities assert he fell from a building, while some eyewitnesses claim he was also hit with a tear gas canister. An investigation into the death is ongoing. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to ensure that the investigation is prompt, impartial and effective.

Ongoing misuse of tear gas
In response to the protests since May, Turkish police and security forces have used tear gas, plastic bullets and water cannon in excessive, unwarranted and arbitrary ways to disperse protesters. 

The Turkish Medical Association has reported that more than 8,000 people were injured at the scene of demonstrations. There is strong evidence linking three of the five earlier deaths connected with the Gezi Park protests to the abusive use of force by the police. 

According to media reports, Turkish police used 130,000 tear gas cartridges during the first 20 days of the demonstrations. This greatly depleted the 150,000 cartridges budgeted for in the police force’s annual procurement plan. 

Amnesty International and other organizations reported from the ground how tear gas was misused in confined areas where it poses an increased health risk. 

“Several months have passed and the Turkish authorities have yet to conduct independent and impartial investigations into the widespread and abusive use of force by police against peaceful protesters in Istanbul and other cities,” said Gardner.

“International partners – including in the European Union – must urge the Turkish authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the excessive use of force and ensure that all police are properly trained in how to respond to peaceful protests in line with international standards.”

Full article
Photo by Jenna Pope

What’s happening in Turkey right now by photographer Jenna Pope
July 24, 2013

Photo 1: Turkeys Chamber of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) march on Istiklal Street in Istanbul on July 13th to protest a parliamentary bill passed during a midnight vote which strips the TMMOB of the authority to approve construction projects such as the Gezi Park plan. Police also raided the homes of several members of the Chamber and arrested them.

Photo 2: Police raided the apartments of activists and university students on the morning of July 16th, detaining a total of 29 people. That night, the forum in Abbasağa Park planned a march throughout Beşiktaş to demand their release.

Photo 3: People attempt to enter Gezi Park to attend a public wedding but police sealed off the park and pushed people out.

Photo 4: A couple which met several weeks ago planned to have their wedding inside Gezi Park, but 30 minutes before the ceremony police officers sealed off the park and demanded people leave. The police then used their shields to push people out from the park and onto Istiklal Street, where they used water cannons and plastic bullets to disperse the crowd.

Click here for more photos.

The People’s Record Saturday protest update
June 29, 2013

Saturday in Turkey (abc)
Thousands of protesters returned to Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Saturday, demanding justice for a demonstrator slain by police fire during demonstrations that have swept Turkey this month. Police later forced the protesters out of the square, pushing them back using their shields.

In the capital, Ankara, police fired tear gas and pressurized water to break up a similar protest by a group of about 200 people, the Dogan news agency reported.

Saturday in Egypt (bbc)
Crowds are gathering in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the eve of a mass rally to demand the resignation of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi.

As darkness fell, thousands of people could be seen milling in the square, focus of the protests which brought down his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

Saturday in India (THE HINDU)
In an unprecedented protest at Mananchira on Saturday, a group of Muslim women burned the All-India Sunni Jam-Iyyathul Ulema general secretary Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musalyar in effigy for his recent comments supporting a reduction in the legal marriage age for Muslim women.

The women who do not owe allegiance to any party or organization said that they were forced to protest after the many regressive comments from Muslim organizations and clerics supporting the recent circular to legalize marriage of Muslim girls who had completed 16.

This was perhaps the first time that a group of women from the community was protesting against their community leaders, they said. Power to the women!

Friday in Israel (haaretz)
Some 1,500 Palestinians protested in Wadi Ara in northern Israel on Friday against the government’s home demolitions. Protesters blocked a major road, causing heavy traffic in the area; they threw rocks at abusive police as the brutal police pelted the crowd with tear gas and stun grenades.

Two demonstrators were arrested on ‘suspicion of assaulting police officers’.

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The Turkish Uprising: First-hand experiences from an American photographer by Jenna Pope

"Three days after my trip to Gazi, on the morning of June 11th, police broke through the barricades that protestors had made and entered Taksim Square. As I had been awake all night, I was about to go to bed when I got word of what was happening. I quickly packed up my gear and headed towards the square. On my way, I passed many people who were frantically fleeing the area, coughing as their eyes watered from tear gas that had been deployed as the police entered the area. Many people were yelling at me in Turkish, clearly telling me to go back, but they didn’t realize that I had traveled many miles just to photograph this.

As I entered the square, my eyes stung from lingering tear gas. The police were announcing over loudspeakers that they only planned to remove banners and tents from the square, but did not plan to enter Gezi Park. Not long after, a small group of people began throwing molotov cocktails and rocks at police vehicles from behind a set of barricades. I spoke to many Turkish activists who said they believed this was staged in order to “justify” the actions of the police that day. The protestors found it odd that the police responded with less use of force on this small group of people than they had used during earlier protests. The police ended up using tear gas, water cannons, and plastic bullets on thousands of protestors in both Taksim Square and Gezi Park during clashes that went all day and into the night, lasting for over 20 hours.”

Read more & take a look at more of Jenna’s photos from Turkey. You can also follow on on Facebook for more updates. The photographer says she is planning on going back to Turkey within the next few weeks. 

Standing people movement spreads across Turkey as new tactics evolve in response to government suppression
June 19, 2013

Lunchtime in the waterfront district of Beşiktaş in Istanbul on Tuesday and Ismail Orhan has been standing silently under a yellow parasol in the blistering heat for more than four hours.

"We’ll be here for weeks, for months," said the 25-year-old, as office workers used their lunch break to join a new wave of passive resistance to the authorities.

Instantly dubbed the “standing man” or “standing people” protest, fuelled rapidly by Twitter and other social media, the mute, peaceful, immobile gesture of resistance to a government that has used brute force to dispel three weeks of protest was launched on Monday evening in Istanbul’s Taksim Square by a performance artist, Erdem Gündüz. The “stand-in” instantly spread like a virus.

Silent protesters swelled into hundreds across different parts of Istanbul, to Ankara, Izmir and Antalya. About 10 were detained by police in Istanbul after refusing to move, but were quickly released.

In front of Orhan, by a sculpture of an eagle, were two pairs of flipflops, two pairs of trainers and a pair of tiny baby’s bootees – in remembrance of the four people killed during the unprecedented street unrest of the past three weeks and for the pregnant woman who lost her baby when riot police teargassed a luxury hotel on Saturday where terrified protesters and wounded were sheltering.

Tahsin, 63, a bank employee who did not want to use his full name, spent his lunch break joining the handful of protesters, who included elderly women.

"I’m supporting everything that’s been going on peacefully for the last two weeks. I wouldn’t think we could be arrested. That would be really far fetched," he said.

Hundreds more joined them at different locations. Some brought books to settle in for a long haul. Bottles of water were the most common accompaniment in a poignant and dignified display of rebellion against a government increasingly seen as high-handed and out of touch.

"I’m just stopping, standing, not speaking. Just drinking water," said Merve Uslu, 21, a student. "I heard about the standing man and it touched my heart so much. I don’t support clashes with police but we’re just resisting basically."

Elsewhere in the city early on Tuesday, however, the Turkish police swooped on dozens of hard-left activists, arresting more than 90 people in the first big clampdown since the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, ordered police to fire tear gas and use water cannons in their attack on Saturday evening to clear Gezi Park of thousands of demonstrators, inciting a night of violence across much of central Istanbul.

Erdoğan’s confrontational response to the challenge to his 10-year rule has shocked much of Turkey and brought growing criticism internationally.

On Tuesday, the UN’s human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, called for officials and security forces using excessive force to be punished.

"It is important that the authorities recognise that the initial, extremely heavy-handed response to the protests, which resulted in many injuries, is still a major part of the problem," she said.

But the message from Erdoğan was the very opposite as he divided Turkey into friends and foes, and characterised the largely peaceful protests of recent weeks as orchestrated violence.

"Thanks to this process, we know our enemies and allies as they came out and showed their true colours," said the prime minister.

"The police have been represented as using violence. Who used violence? All of the terrorists, the anarchists, the rioters … In the face of a comprehensive and systematic movement of violence, the police displayed an unprecedented democratic stance and successfully passed the test of democracy."

In addition to Tuesday’s arrests, at least 90 protesters were detained during the weekend violence. According to Turkish media reports on Tuesday, most have been released but 13 are to be brought before the courts, which human rights monitors say have been increasingly politicised under Erdoğan.

A lawyer who wished to remain anonymous said the number of arbitrary arrests was very worrying. “Many of those arrested over the course of these protests have been denied access to lawyers for hours; they were made to wait for a long time, some are still waiting,” she said. “A red line has definitely been crossed with this.”

The prime minister also came under strong attack from other parts of the political spectrum. Selahattin Demirtaş, a co-leader of the main Kurdish political party, the BDP, harshly criticised the government’s stance.

Directing his remarks at Erdoğan, he said: “At the moment you look like a leader who tries to stay in power with the help of tanks and batons … This is a movement of the people and you are trying to pit the people against the people.”

With the police still out in force on Taksim Square and municipal workers rolling out new lawns, planting rose gardens and new magnolia trees in Gezi Park, the cradle of the rebellion, there were calls for the protest to shift to other park areas across the country on Tuesday evening.

Police weariness appears to be growing, as well as sympathy for the mainly young people they have been confronting for weeks. “This is a good way of demonstrating, a very good way,” one riot police officer said of the stand-in. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with peaceful protests; that should be everybody’s right.”

He laughed when asked if he would consider joining: “I have been standing here for two weeks already anyway.”

Determined to carry on with his act of civil disobedience, Orhan said he and his fellow protesters just wanted “peace and democracy”. If protesting entailed the prospect of arrest, so be it.

"Under normal circumstances it should not be a crime to just stand here peacefully. But in Erdoğan’s Turkey, everything is possible."

Source

Unions give lift to Turkish protest movement
June 18, 2013

Turkish labor groups fanned a wave of defiance against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authority, leading rallies and a one-day strike to support activists whose two-week standoff with the government has shaken the country’s secular democracy.

Riot police again deployed in Turkey’s two main cities, and authorities kept up their unyielding stance against the street demonstrations centering on Istanbul’s Taksim Square. But Monday’s police sweep was less forceful than in recent days, with only scattered firing of tear gas and water cannon on pockets ofprotesters.

After activists were ousted from their sit-in in adjacent Gezi Parkover the weekend, two labor confederations that represent some 330,000 workers picked up the slack Monday by calling a strike and demonstrations nationwide. Unionists turned up by the thousands in Ankara, Istanbul, coastal Izmir and elsewhere.

The turnout defied Turkey’s interior minister, Muammer Guler, who warned that anyone taking part in unlawful demonstrations would “bear the legal consequences.” But one analyst called the rallies a “legitimate and a lawful expression of constitutional rights.”

"People are raising their voices against the excessive use of police force," said Koray Caliskan, a political science professor at Istanbul’s Bosphorus University. Demonstrators, he said, were showing they were no longer cowed by authorities, and "the fear threshold has been broken."

In a sign that authorities were increasingly impatient, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc floated the prospect that authorities could call in troops to quash the protests.

Erdogan’s opponents have grown increasingly suspicious about what they call a gradual erosion of freedoms and secular values under his Islamic-rooted ruling party. It has passed new curbs on alcohol and tried, but later abandoned its plans, to limit women’s access to abortion.

Source

This should be the role of unions in movements - support, solidarity, militant organizing. 

The fight to save San Francisco’s Gezi Gardens
June 15, 2013

In all the cities we’ve traveled to for our project, we’ve seen so much resistance against the gentrification of low-income communities. But we’ve most recently immersed ourselves in the fight to save San Francisco’s Gezi Gardens, which was once known as Hayes Valley Farm, a three-year permaculture project recently renamed in solidarity with our friends in Turkey. 

Gezi Gardens was an autonomous open green space for providing food for the surrounding neighborhood & was recently sold by the city to a private developer, Avalon, to create 180 luxury condominiums. Although the developer has mentioned building low-income housing, investors usually put that money toward shanty housing in other parts of the city to further gentrify neighborhoods & kick out poor people of color to make way for things like trendy beer gardens & upscale boutiques. 

Since June 1, dozens of activists occupied Gezi Gardens to fight the privatization of the land & gentrification in San Francisco. Six tree-sitters set up platforms up in the eucalyptus trees as occupiers rebuilt raised beds, set up a library, a free kitchen and a free store. Political ideas & strategies were exchanged throughout the days of the occupation to figure out a way to keep the land that is also home to native birds & hummingbirds, as well as the site of an indigenous sacred burial ground.

The gardens were supposed to host a Liberate our Land festival this weekend, complete with hydroponic workshops, basic gardening teach-ins, local music & food. But in the early hours of Thursday morning, more than a 100 riot cops stormed the farm with batons & guns drawn. Citizen journalists (including us) were threatened with arrest for filming the raid as four occupiers were arrested. The three tree-sitters holding the land after everyone was evacuated were all arrested as well; one even fell from his platform as an officer cut his rope he was holding onto & was later hospitalized. Another activist is still in jail on a lynching charge with a $54,000 bail. 

But the resistance continued. Yesterday, Gezi Gardens organizers & supporters marched around the farm, shutting down two intersections during rush hour. The National Park Service was also called to the space after hummingbird carcasses were found, as well as nesting crows in the eucalyptus trees, so the construction & demolishing has been halted (for now)! An archaeologist has also been called to go into the land to confirm that it is a sacred indigenous burial ground.

The struggle to save Gezi Gardens is something many cities are familiar with. As green space in urban areas becomes more & more endangered & low-income communities of color get pushed farther out of cities, resistance becomes necessary. We wanted to share this story with our readers in hopes that this resistance can spread to other cities being threatened with devastating gentrification. Together, we can organize to create a sense of community & a pushback against the capitalist measures that threaten to destroy our neighborhoods. 

We’ll continue to update our Facebook & Twitter with times/dates for meetings & the next steps organizers will take. You can also stay updated by visiting HumanBeIn.org. Also keep an eye on our YouTube channel for bunch of videos from the last few days.

space-peasant
thepeoplesrecord:

Erdogan’s lip service to possibilities isn’t enough to stop this movementJune 15, 2013
Protesters will press on with their sit-in at an Istanbul park, an activist said Saturday, defying government appeals and a warning from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the two-week standoff that has fanned nationwide demonstrations to end.
The announcement from Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest movements in Gezi Park, is likely to return the spotlight on Erdogan’s government — and how it will respond. He already has offered to defer to a court ruling on the legality of the government’s contested park redevelopment plan, and floated the possibility of a referendum on it.
Tayfun Kahraman — a Taksim Solidarity member who met with Erdogan in last-ditch talks that lasted until the pre-dawn hours Friday — said the protesters had agreed to continue their sit-in after holding a series of discussions about their response to the pledges made by Erdogan.
“We shall remain in the park until all of our democratic rights are recognized,” he told The Associated Press, insisting that four key demands laid out by protesters in the talks had not been met.
The group has insisted that apart from the park being left intact, it also wants anyone responsible for excessive police force to resign or be fired, all activists detained in the protests to be released, and for the police use of tear gas and other non-lethal weapons to be banned.
The “struggle will continue,” Taksim Solidarity said in a statement posted on its website and later read out in the park adding that “we shall continue to keep watch over our park.”
Source
Photo Source

Happening now: Taksim Square is being attacked with tear gas & rubber bullets. From a comrade in Istanbul -
“Cops are heavily attacking Gezi park right now. Cops are attacking injured people in the infirmary there. There are many injured children, and there was a call out for donations of blood for the children. 10,000 people are on Istiklal (street coming off Taksim) fighting the police. Also in Harbiye people are fighting the cops. Someone has been crushed by a water cannon tank. In Ankara today Erdogan has said on the state TV the cops will use guns with live ammo if needed. Every ten seconds there are announcements to help the injured. Cops are attacking hotels and coffeeshops that have been helping resistors. They are destroying Gezi park and arresting and beating everyone. Please spread the word.”

thepeoplesrecord:

Erdogan’s lip service to possibilities isn’t enough to stop this movement
June 15, 2013

Protesters will press on with their sit-in at an Istanbul park, an activist said Saturday, defying government appeals and a warning from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the two-week standoff that has fanned nationwide demonstrations to end.

The announcement from Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest movements in Gezi Park, is likely to return the spotlight on Erdogan’s government — and how it will respond. He already has offered to defer to a court ruling on the legality of the government’s contested park redevelopment plan, and floated the possibility of a referendum on it.

Tayfun Kahraman — a Taksim Solidarity member who met with Erdogan in last-ditch talks that lasted until the pre-dawn hours Friday — said the protesters had agreed to continue their sit-in after holding a series of discussions about their response to the pledges made by Erdogan.

“We shall remain in the park until all of our democratic rights are recognized,” he told The Associated Press, insisting that four key demands laid out by protesters in the talks had not been met.

The group has insisted that apart from the park being left intact, it also wants anyone responsible for excessive police force to resign or be fired, all activists detained in the protests to be released, and for the police use of tear gas and other non-lethal weapons to be banned.

The “struggle will continue,” Taksim Solidarity said in a statement posted on its website and later read out in the park adding that “we shall continue to keep watch over our park.”

Source

Photo Source

Happening now: Taksim Square is being attacked with tear gas & rubber bullets. From a comrade in Istanbul -

Cops are heavily attacking Gezi park right now. Cops are attacking injured people in the infirmary there. There are many injured children, and there was a call out for donations of blood for the children. 10,000 people are on Istiklal (street coming off Taksim) fighting the police. Also in Harbiye people are fighting the cops. Someone has been crushed by a water cannon tank. In Ankara today Erdogan has said on the state TV the cops will use guns with live ammo if needed. Every ten seconds there are announcements to help the injured. Cops are attacking hotels and coffeeshops that have been helping resistors. They are destroying Gezi park and arresting and beating everyone. Please spread the word.”

Erdogan’s lip service to possibilities isn’t enough to stop this movementJune 15, 2013
Protesters will press on with their sit-in at an Istanbul park, an activist said Saturday, defying government appeals and a warning from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the two-week standoff that has fanned nationwide demonstrations to end.
The announcement from Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest movements in Gezi Park, is likely to return the spotlight on Erdogan’s government — and how it will respond. He already has offered to defer to a court ruling on the legality of the government’s contested park redevelopment plan, and floated the possibility of a referendum on it.
Tayfun Kahraman — a Taksim Solidarity member who met with Erdogan in last-ditch talks that lasted until the pre-dawn hours Friday — said the protesters had agreed to continue their sit-in after holding a series of discussions about their response to the pledges made by Erdogan.
"We shall remain in the park until all of our democratic rights are recognized," he told The Associated Press, insisting that four key demands laid out by protesters in the talks had not been met.
The group has insisted that apart from the park being left intact, it also wants anyone responsible for excessive police force to resign or be fired, all activists detained in the protests to be released, and for the police use of tear gas and other non-lethal weapons to be banned.
The “struggle will continue,” Taksim Solidarity said in a statement posted on its website and later read out in the park adding that “we shall continue to keep watch over our park.”
Source
Photo Source

Erdogan’s lip service to possibilities isn’t enough to stop this movement
June 15, 2013

Protesters will press on with their sit-in at an Istanbul park, an activist said Saturday, defying government appeals and a warning from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the two-week standoff that has fanned nationwide demonstrations to end.

The announcement from Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest movements in Gezi Park, is likely to return the spotlight on Erdogan’s government — and how it will respond. He already has offered to defer to a court ruling on the legality of the government’s contested park redevelopment plan, and floated the possibility of a referendum on it.

Tayfun Kahraman — a Taksim Solidarity member who met with Erdogan in last-ditch talks that lasted until the pre-dawn hours Friday — said the protesters had agreed to continue their sit-in after holding a series of discussions about their response to the pledges made by Erdogan.

"We shall remain in the park until all of our democratic rights are recognized," he told The Associated Press, insisting that four key demands laid out by protesters in the talks had not been met.

The group has insisted that apart from the park being left intact, it also wants anyone responsible for excessive police force to resign or be fired, all activists detained in the protests to be released, and for the police use of tear gas and other non-lethal weapons to be banned.

The “struggle will continue,” Taksim Solidarity said in a statement posted on its website and later read out in the park adding that “we shall continue to keep watch over our park.”

Source

Photo Source