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After Gezi: Erdoğan And Political Struggle In Turkey

‘After Gezi: Erdoğan and political struggle in Turkey’ chronicles a year of uprisings, resistance and repression since the Gezi uprising in Turkey.

from brandon jourdan on Vimeo.

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.

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Turkish Court Orders 47 Arrests Ahead of Gezi Anniversary Protest

 [Nearly one year after the massive Gezi Park protests in Istanbul — and only weeks after the country-wide rebellions at the death of hundreds of miners at Soma — Turkey’s government is launching yet another round of arrests and repression while the people’s solidarity, resistance, and commemoration of the year since the upsurge which Gezi marked, declares the coming weeks of struggle. — Frontlines ed.]

Bop1K2rCQAE5TfcHurriyet Daily, 27 May 2014 –– A Turkish court ordered the arrest of 47 suspects in the Gezi Park case on May 27, while the pioneers of last year’s protest called for a May 31 rally in Taksim to mark the anniversary of Turkey’s largest-ever civil uprising.

A total of 255 suspects, including seven foreigners, have been on trial since May 6 on charges ranging from “violating the Meeting and Rallies Law” to “resisting police” and “supporting a criminal.” Continue reading

Turkish protesters have long list of complaints

02 Jun 2013
ANKARA (AFP)turkey 6-1-13  What started as a small group opposed to an development project in Istanbul has become an outpouring of national anger over how the Islamist-rooted government treats its citizens, testing Ankara’s quest to be a model country in its neighbourhood.Turks are increasingly frustrated about what they see as restrictions on their freedom after a series of last-minute reforms were rushed through parliament by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which enjoys an overwhelming majority.”This is a movement which is a result of growing frustration and disappointment among secular segments of society who could not influence politics over the last decade,” said Sinan Ulgen, visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe.

“This is an unprecedented, abrupt and unplanned public movement that has not been manipulated by any political party. It is a big surprise,” he told AFP.

A small park and its 600 trees at Istanbul’s iconic Taksim square was the spark for the protests that snowballed into one of the biggest nationwide campaigns against the ruling party’s tturkey taksimen-year rule.

Critics say that Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan’s rule has left Turkish society more polarised than ever, with opponents of the AKP government openly voicing concerns that Turkey is moving toward conservative Islam.

The ruling party has passed a series of reforms which have outraged many citizens who complain of a “fait accompli” and say it shows a slide toward an authoritarian and conservative agenda.

In 2004, the party attempted to submit a controversial amendment on banning adultery but had to back down amid criticism from opposition parties and women’s groups.

Last year, Erdogan provoked outrage when he likened abortion to murder, and his contentious education reform allowing clerical schools for the raising of what he described a “pious generation” was approved by the parliament in 2012, spreading fears among secularists.

More recently, Turkey’s parliament passed legislation curbing alcohol sales and advertising, which would be the toughest in the republic’s history if the president, a former AKP member, signs it into law.

In April, an Istanbul court ordered a retrial for world-renowned pianist Fazil Say, who was convicted earlier to 10 months in prison for blasphemy over a series of social media posts. The 43-year-old virtuoso has accused the AKP of being behind the case against him.

Critics accuse Erdogan’s government of using courts to silence dissenting voices.

Turkey is the leading jailer of journalists worldwide, imprisoning even more than China or Iran, according to rights groups.

Hundreds of military officers, academics and lawyers are also in detention — most of them accused of plotting against the government. Continue reading

Turkish prison authorities beat Kurdish political prisoner suffering from cancer

by Alliance for Kurdish RightsTaylan Çintay, a Kurdish political prisoner suffering from cancer, was hospitalized one day after his medical operation. He started bleeding as he was beaten at the entrance of the prison and was taken to the emergency room. The prison authorities launched an investigation against him, alleging that “he got wounded by hitting himself against the wall,” Bianet reported.

36-year-old Taylan Çintay, a seriously ill cancer patient, has been in prison for 15 years. He underwent five medical operations due to bladder cancer during that period.

Çintay was transferred to Sincan Prison in Ankara from Diyarbakır Prison where he had been held and underwent an operation at Ankara Numune Hospital on May 19. He was discharged from the hospital on May 20 and taken back to Sincan Prison. Continue reading

10,000 More Prisoners To Join The Kurdish Hunger Strikes In Turkey

Turkish riot police fire water and tear gas as they clash with Kurdish demonstrators during a protest in support of a hunger strike movement by Kurdish prisoners, on November 4, 2012, in Istanbul (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

By Kurd Net, Ekurd.net, 06 November, 2012

ANKARA— Shortly after the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) announced that thousands of more prisoners were to join a collective hunger strike, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç made an open call to all prisoners to end the strike.

On Sunday BDP deputy Sabahat Tuncel said 10,000 more prisoners currently held in the country’s prisons for various crimes, including membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Iranian offshoot, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), would join the hunger strike on Monday.

Around 700 Kurdish prisoners began the hunger strike on September 12, with a host of demands including the release of the Kurdish (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan and demanding the right to receive an education in their mother tongue, Kurdish, and the right to address courts in Kurdish.

Protest in support of Kurdish hunger strikers in Berlin. Image by Thomas Rossi Rassloff via Flickr

Tuncel said on Sunday during a press conference she called after attending an Istanbul demonstration by pro-BDP protestors in support of prisoners on hunger strike, “Ten thousand more prisoners are going to join the hunger strike on Monday [Nov. 5] without a time limit or the possibility of backpedaling [before their demands are met by the government].” Continue reading

Hunger Strike: The Irish Experience

by DENIS O’HEARN

When people ask me, “what is the most important thing you learned about Bobby Sands?” I tell them one simple thing. The most important thing about Bobby Sands is not how he died on hunger strike, it is how he lived.

New York – Bıa news agency, 5 November 2012

The hunger strikes of 1980/1981, in which ten men including Bobby Sands died, are the most famous use of that political weapon. Yet hunger striking has a long history in Irish political culture. It is said that the ancient Celts practiced a form of hunger strike called Troscadh or Cealachan, where someone who had been wronged by a man of wealth fasted on his doorstep. Some historians claim that this was a death fast, which usually achieved justice because of the shame one would incur from allowing someone to die on their doorstep. Others say it was a token act that was never carried out to the death – it was simply meant to publicly shame the offender. In any case, both forms of protest have been used quite regularly as a political weapon in modern Ireland.

The history of Irish resistance to British colonialism is full of heroes who died on hunger strike. Some of the best-known include Thomas Ashe, a veteran of the 1916 “Easter Rising”, who died after he was force-fed by the British in Dublin’s Mountjoy Jail. In 1920, three men including the mayor of Cork City Terence MacSwiney died on hunger strike in England’s Brixton Prison. In October 1923 two men died when up to 8,000 IRA prisoners went on hunger strike to protest their imprisonment by the new “Irish Free State” (formed after the partition of Ireland in 1921). Three men died on hunger strike against the Irish government in the 1940s. After the IRA was reformed in the 1970s, hunger strikes became common once again. IRA man Michael Gaughan died after being force-fed in a British prison in 1974. And Frank Stagg died in a British jail after a 62-day hunger strike in 1976.

Unlike in Turkey, the Irish make no distinction between a “hunger strike” and a “death fast,” although many hunger strikes have started without the intention of anyone dying. In 1972, IRA prisoners successfully won status as political prisoners after a hunger strike in which no one died. They were then moved to Long Kesh prison camp, where they lived in dormitory-style huts and self-organized their education (including guerrilla training), work (including cooperative handicrafts production), recreation, and attempts to escape and rejoin the conflict. The prisoners used their relative freedom to raise their collective and individual consciousness about their struggle against British occupation of Ireland. They read international revolutionaries like Che Guevara and Irish socialists such as James Connolly. This was, in turn, a foundation for rebuilding the IRA on a basis that included a less hierarchical and more participative structure, with a higher emphasis on community politics as a part of armed struggle.

As the IRA rebuilt their organization in prison the British government also changed strategy. The main pillar of the new strategy was a “conveyor belt” of security operations that included widespread arrests of young Catholic males, heavy interrogation including torture, and juryless courts in which a single judge pronounced guilt often on the sole basis of verbal or written statements under interrogation. Continue reading

In Solidarity with Students in Captivity, who Resist Fascism in Turkey!

17 July 2012

ATIK – YDG  | 17 – 07 – 2012 | There are currently 771 students kept in prisons because they claimed their right to equal, free, scientific education and lessons to be in their mother tongue. They faced disciplinary actions, suspensions, repression, violence and imprisonment due to their opposing stance. This, once again proves that the ruler have no forbearance to any kind of opposing and demand for rights.

Those students who fight for their rights are seen as “a head to axe before it grows”. Universities are no longer institutions of science, wisdom and intellectualism where students research, debate and develop their knowledge in social and political matters; they are instead turned into private factories with rote, competitive, non-scientific, unqualified education to create its homogenised human type. The fascist TC State continues all its attacks on those who oppose, stand against and speak up to its brutal doings. The ruling fascist mentality doubles the force of its attacks when revolutionary or Kurdish students are involved. People’s youth, particularly the Kurdish youth are targeted and arrested without any evidence. They arrest these young people for reading legal books and papers, attending press conferences, and as in the example of Cihal Kirmizigul, they get arrested for wearing a “pusi” which is a traditional middle eastern scarf which became a very trendy fashion item all around the world and was worn by all off the large party leaders in Turkey during their visits to the east.

AHM-ATİK News Center

Turkey: Court Sentences Singer to Two Years in Prison for Speech

by AHMerdan

TURKEY | 27 – 06 – 2012 | A specially authorized court in the eastern province of Malatya sentenced Kurdish-Alevi singer Ferhat Tunç to two years in prison on terrorism related charges due to his invocation of the names of deceased Turkish leftists during a speech on May 1, 2011.

The Malatya specially authorized Third Court for Serious Crimes sentenced Kurdish-Alevi singer and composer Ferhat Tunç to two years behind bars on the charge of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” due to his invocation of the names of deceased Turkish leftists Deniz Gezmiş, Mahir Çayan and İbrahim Kaypakkaya during a speech he gave on May 1, 2011 in the eastern province of Dersim (Tunceli.)

“I greet you all in the revolutionary spirit of Deniz Gezmiş, Mahir Çayan and İbrahim Kaypakkaya,” Ferhat Tunç had said during the May 1st celebrations in Dersim in 2011.

The decision was unexpected and politically motivated, Tunç told bianet.

Lawyer Ercan Kanar, who represents Tunç in court, also said the court had convicted his client on the claim that he was making propaganda on behalf of the Maoist Communist Party (MKP) because of his reference to İbrahim Kaypakkaya during the speech. Continue reading

Turkey: Mass arrests of journalists aimed at suppressing pro-Kurdish information and voices

Wave of Condemnation as Turkey Arrests Yet More Journalists

by , 21 December 2001

Istanbul, Turkey- Dawn on Tuesday brought an unfortunate wake up call to many Kurds and especially to journalists as a wave of arrests across Turkey picked up 40 people, most of whom are journalists.

The arrests came under the premise of alleged links to the Union of Committees in Kurdistan (KCK). Turkish “anti-terrorism” police specifically targeted pro-Kurdish media, mainly DIHA and ETHA news agencies, the Özgür Gündem daily newspaper, the Demokratik Modernite magazine and the Gün printing press. Turkish state media alleged that the recent wave of arrests was part of a two year long investigation into the KCK and its members. In addition, French Kurdish photographer Mustafa Ozer, who works for the French news agency Agence France Presse, was detained, smiling as he was carried away by security officers.

This wave of arrests is only the latest in Turkey’s sustained assault against the KCK and all those affiliated with it. The new arrests brings the number of journalists alone in Turkish prisoners over 90, making Turkey one of the worst countries in the world for imprisoning members of the media. Along with journalists, Turkey has been undertaking a systemic campaign of arresting children, activists, academics, politicians, and arguably any other powerful voice of dissent in the country.

Although for the most part Turkey’s unjust actions against the Kurds go unnoticed, the arrest of 40 Kurds, most of whom are journalists, has received some of the criticism is deserves. Hundreds of journalists gathered in Taksim Square in Istanbul to protest the arrests and demand that freedom of the press in Turkey be preserved and protected. “The imprisonment of journalists means the usurpation of our right for information” read the statement released at the demonstration. “We are here today to defend both our colleagues and the right of information.”

In addition, the international organization Reporters Without Borders released a statement saying they were “very concerned” by the latest arrests, and called on the Turkish government and authorities to “stop trying to criminalize journalism, including politically committed journalism.”

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) also released a statement, calling on all those who support the right of information and freedom of the press to protest Turkey’s many human rights abuses.

The detention of 40 journalists, all seeking to reveal the same truth about the situation of Kurds in Turkey, is in fact affecting the entire profession of journalism. With 40 less people reporting on Turkey’s marginalization of the Kurdish community, Turkey is further quashing voices of dissent in the name of anti-terrorism and clearing the path for even more human rights abuses in the future.

This article first appeared on our website KurdishRights.org.

Turkey: Revolutionary journalist, Comrade Suzan Zengin has passed away!

[Suzan Zengin, a political prisoner, suffered from the inhuman prison conditions in Turkey.  After being released from prison, her health deteriorated and led to her early demise.  A revolutionary journalist, activist, and internationalist, we salute her contributions she has made to the struggle under difficult conditions. — Frontlines ed.]

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Suzan Zengin

17 October 2011

ISTANBUL | 17 – 10 – 2011 | We are very sad to inform the international progressive public that our comrade Suzan Zengin has passed away on October 12th 2011 due to an heart damage. She had been on the emergency room since 17 days. Reason for her intense illness was the inhuman prison conditions that exist in Turkey’s prisons.

On October 2008 in the early morning hours Suzan Zengin’s house was raided by special police forces and she was arrested and later on imprisoned. For more than half and a year Suzan was held at the Bakirkoy women’s’ prison in Istanbul without any reason. During her imprisonment she suffered from chronic illness and was not allowed to receive any treatment or the needed medicine. Just like many other democratic-progressive political prisoner Suzan was eye to eye with death behind the dark prison walls every day.

Comrade Suzan, was with her revolutionary-socialist identity always shoulder to shoulder with the workers and the toiling masses, took side with them during mobilizations and resistances. With her photo camera and her pens she was a inseparable part of  the workers and the toiling masses districts she wrote about their anger, their aspirations and hopes; she was the voice of those who organized the many occupations and strikes for a better live and free future. Continue reading

Turkey: Prisoners punished for singing political slogans


The Ankara Penal Authority Discipline Board penalized 63 prisoners in Sincan Prison for chanting slogans and singing on 1 May 2011, reported Antenna-Turkey in its Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin of 24 June 2011.

Six prisoners received a month of ban for visitors and 57 were banned from receiving communication and information media.

The case of the 63 prisoners in Sincan Prison is now being investigated.

The inmates appealed stating that singing on 1 May is not a crime. The Turkish state accepts 1 May as a public holiday and that it is celebrated with songs and slogans all over the world, the defendants counselor Evrim Deniz Karatana commented on what he termed an unnecessary and arbitrary sentencing.

Click to read more about Turkey

Source

Antenna-tr.org – 24 June 2011:
Weekly Freedom of Expression Bulletin (No 25 – 2011)

Turkey: “WHO IS NEXT?” a call for solidarity against state repression

TO INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION

We call on all activists and human rights defenders to observe the trial of socialist politicians, 
journalists and human rights defenders which will begin 
on 13 April 2011, in Istanbul.

On September 21st 2010, socialist politicians, journalists and human rights defenders among whom 
are Socialist Democracy Party (SDP) president Dr. Rıdvan Turan, SDP and TÖP (The Platform for Social 
Freedom) executives and members, editors of journals Red and Bilim ve Gelecek, were arrested in 
Istanbul. SDP offices and homes of these people were raided by the Turkish police. Special operations 
teams, who were heavily armed and wore snow masks and steel vests, have made a mess out of homes and 
party offices, and seized computers and a number of visual and written materials. The prosecutor's 
office accuses the detained of membership of an illegal organization called Revolutionary Headquarters 
without any concrete proof put forward. Continue reading 

Turkey: Army jails stone-throwing children, sentences them to up to 50 years for ‘terrorism’

Jailing Kurdish Children to Undermine Dissent

By Daan Bauwens

DIYARBAKIR, Southeastern Turkey (IPS) – Turkey is signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but that does not stop minors in the country’s Kurdish dominated eastern and southeastern regions from ending up with stiff jail sentences.

In fact, after amendments were recently made to the country’s anti-terror law, it is possible to charges children as terrorists and put them away for up to 50 years in jail.

According to official figures, there are currently 2,622 minors serving time in Turkish prisons. Earlier this week officials admitted that the figure was rising.

Lawyer Canan Atabay who represents the Diyarbakir Bar Association at the European Union and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and is also a member of the Justice for Children Initiative (JCI) that has opposed indiscriminate arrests and sentencing of children for the last three years believes that the law targets Kurdish children.

According to figures maintained by the JCI there are currently no fewer than 3,000 children being held in Turkish prisons. ‘’Almost all of them are Kurdish,’’ Atabay told IPS.

Turkey’s crackdown on children began in the aftermath of the 2006 street riots in Diyarbakir, a predominantly Kurdish city where support for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that is struggling for the rights of Kurdish citizens runs high. In 2006, after the public funeral of 14 PKK members who were allegedly killed with chemical weapons, clashes between demonstrators and security forces broke out. Continue reading

Turkey: Security forces torture dissenters, enjoy impunity

Hooded prisoners take part in a protest in Istanbul against torture in Turkish prisons.

Torture – Live and Well in Turkey

 

By Jake R. Hess

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey  (IPS) – Six years after the ruling Justice and Development Party government declared ‘zero tolerance’ for torture, the practice prevails in Turkey, human rights monitors in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeastern region say.

As part of its EU membership bid, the Turkish government has expanded legal protections against torture, which is explicitly banned in Turkish law and now carries a mandatory minimum three-year prison sentence. Detained individuals now have the right to immediately access legal counsel and limits have been placed on the amount of time they can be held in custody without appearing before a judge, though these provisions can be temporarily withheld in the case of terror suspects.

Despite such widely-acclaimed changes, torture is far from being history in Turkey.

According to data provided by the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD), documented cases of torture dropped consistently in the years immediately following the announcement of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, before more than doubling in the year 2008. Continue reading

Kurdish anger turns into protests over Turkish court case

The Christian Science Monitor, November 2, 2010
A controversial court case, in which defendants have been barred from speaking Kurdish, reflects deeper tensions as Turkey tries to reconcile with a restive minority

 

A Kurdish women's group holds up signs calling for greater freedoms, as thousands of Turkish Kurds hold a protest march to the courthouse in Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey, where more than 150 ethnic Kurds--including a dozen elected mayors--stand trial on November 11

Diyarbakir, Turkey —The words rang out from a rally bus, as thousands of ethnic Kurds gathered in protest against still-limited freedoms in Turkey. 

 

“Join us, friends, we are walking for our mother tongue!” came the announcement, as local Kurdish politicians locked arms in defiance. “We walk for Kurdish to be spoken in parliament! For our [jailed] friends, who are victims of politics!”

Protests by Turkey’s Kurdish minority over a controversial court case are tapping into much deeper disappointment over a stalled government initiative to bring peace after decades of bloodshed between the state and Kurds demanding long-denied political and cultural freedoms.

Instead of reconciliation, however, 153 Kurdish politicians and activists – among them 12 sitting elected mayors – are on trial in Diyarbakir. Just over 100 of those are imprisoned – and constitute a fraction of the 1,500 Kurds behind bars across southeast Turkey held on similar recent charges of illegal political activities. Continue reading