Political struggles over the future of Turkey have left the country profoundly divided. Former prime minister, now president, Tayyip Erdogan, has fuelled the growing polarization through his authoritarian response to protests, his large-scale urban development projects, his religious social conservatism, and most recently, through his complicity in the Islamic State’s war against the Kurdish people in Northern Syria.
Soma, Turkey mine disaster creates widespread anger at Erdogan. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff
Hundreds of Miners Die, Turkish Government Sides with Company
May 20, 2014 / Emre Eren Korkmaz, Labor Notes
Coal miners in Soma waited for news from rescuers after the biggest workplace disaster in Turkey’s history. The prime minister has sparked renewed protests by defending the company, which had boasted of its cost-cutting business model. Photo: Hilmi Hacaloğlu (VOA).
People in Turkey are sad and angry.
At least 300 workers lost their lives in the May 13 mine accident in Soma, a small town 300 miles from Istanbul. It was the biggest workplace disaster in Turkish history.
But instead of punishing management and promising to improve safety, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has openly defended the company.
Not just in Soma but in all parts of the country, people are angry and mobilizing against the government. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has reacted with police violence, pepper gas, and water cannons.
A May 15 general strike called by several union federations was one of the biggest strikes in years. Last summer, protesters defending Istanbul’s Gezi Park against bulldozers touched off national protests against the Erdoğan regime and its pro-business agenda, with significant union participation. Continue reading →
By Brandon Jourdan and Marianne Maeckelbergh, Global Uprisings, August 5th, 2013
This short documentary tells the story of the occupation of Gezi Park, the eviction on July 15, 2013, and the protests that have continued in the aftermath. It includes interviews with many participants and footage never before seen.
Since the end of May 2013, political unrest has swept across Turkey. In Istanbul, a large part of the central Beyoğlu district became a battle zone for three consecutive weeks with conflicts continuing afterward. So far five people have died and thousands have been injured.
The protests were initially aimed at rescuing Istanbul’s Gezi Park from being demolished as part of a large scale urban renewal project. The police used extreme force during a series of police attacks that began on May 28th 2013 and which came to a dramatic head in the early morning hours of Friday May 31st when police attacked protesters sleeping in the park.
Over the course of a few days, the police attacks grew to shocking proportions. As the images of the heavy-handed policing spread across the world, the protests quickly transformed into a popular uprising against the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his style of authoritarian rule.
[Protestors are detained by the plainclothes police officers during an anti-government protest at Taksim Square in Istanbul. REUTERS photo]
Thousands of protesters have gathered at the Taksim square June 29 to denounce the government’s response to the Gezi Park protests, a week after another demonstration was quelled with water cannons and tear gas. The demonstration has been carried out peacefully without tension and most of the protesters dispersed after a couple of hours following police’s warning to end the gathering.
Riot police pushed them away from the square with shields and slow moving water cannon trucks although no water was fired. Announcements were made for protesters to return to their homes.
However, part of the protesters remained in the surroundings of the Taksim area as police entered the side streets chasing the protesters who were gathering back. More than ten protestors were detained, according to Hürriyet. Live footages showed officer in plainclothes taking the protesters into custody. Continue reading →
Tuesday, 11 June 2013 Press Release: Abahlali baseMjondolo
“We Are All Turkish Democrats”: a Statement of Solidarity with the Turkish
Abahlali baseMjondolo is a democratic, membership based movement of shack dwellers and other poor people in South Africa. In 2005 our experience of suffering and injustice led us to decided to organize ourselves and to represent ourselves. We are struggling for land and housing as a vital step towards the restoration of our dignity and the recognition of our equality. We have been severely punished by those who want to keep us in our place and we have faced serious repression.
When we have come under attack we have received solidarity from across the world – from Auckland to Istanbul, Nairobi, London and New York. We have stood with comrades facing repression in places like Haiti and Palestine. Today we stand with our comrades in Turkey and with all Turkish democrats.
We keep over movement strong by making sure that it always remains in the hands of its members and that we take forward the struggles that affect people’s everyday lives. We call this a living politics. But we take very seriously the fact that the system that has marginalized and oppressed us here in South Africa is the very system that marginalizes and oppresses the people of Turkey. And we have not forgotten that the first people to be in solidarity with our struggle outside of South Africa were the comrades at Sendika and People’s House in Turkey. Continue reading →
This morning, Turkish police surrounded protesters in Taksim Gezi park, the central square in Istanbul, blocked all exits and attacked them with chemical sprays and teargas.
An Occupy-style movement has taken off in Istanbul. The ostensible issue of conflict is modest. Protesters started gathering in the park on 27 May, to oppose its demolition as part of a redevelopment plan. But this is more than an environmental protest. It has become a lightning conductor for all the grievances accumulated against the government.
Police have waited until the early hours of each morning to attack, just as police in the US did when dealing with Occupy protesters. They set fire to the tents in which protesters were sleeping and showered them with pepper spray and teargas. A student had to undergo surgery after injuries to his genitals.
The occupiers adapted and started to wear homemade gas masks. More importantly, they called for solidarity. In response to yesterday’s assault, thousands of protesters turned up, including opposition politicians. But this morning’s attack allowed no defence or escape. The park, and the area around it, is still closed, and still under clouds of gas. Continue reading →