Melbourne holds united protest for Turkey

Melbourne rally in solidarity with Turkey on June 10. Photo: Karen Fredericks

About 250 people, mainly from the Turkish and Kurdish communities, held a protest in Melbourne’s Federation Square on June 10 in solidarity with protesters in Taksim Square and Gezi Park, Istanbul, who have come under intense repression from the Turkish state.

The rally was organised by the Melbourne Taksim Platform, a coalition consisting of the Anatolian Cultural Centre, the Australian Alevi Council and the Australian Turkish Cultural Association. The rally was also supported by the Kurdish Association of Victoria.

Speakers drew attention to the growing unity between Turkish and Kurdish protesters in Turkey and said the brutal repression of dissent by the Turkish state did not start when the current neoliberal government of Tayyip Erdogan came to power in 2003.

At a rally in support of the Gezi protests in Melbourne on June 2, supporters of the mainstream secular nationalist opposition parties predominated. Supporters of these parties, who ruled Turkey through military and civilian governments from the 1920s until 2003, are a minority in the current protests in Turkey.

The nationalist iconography, chants and songs of the June 2 Melbourne rally alienated members of the Kurdish community, progressive members of the Turkish community and the Alevi religious community, all of who have suffered repression under Turkish secular nationalist regimes.

The June 10 action emphasised diversity. Photographs of protesters with Turkish and Kurdish flags dancing together in Federation Square circulated social media in Turkey.