Turkey: Life brought to a halt as thousands join general strike

Ankara, October 12.

There was massive participation in the general strike declared by four main trade unions on October 12 and 13 in protest at the October 10 massacre in Ankara.

The strike brought life to a halt.

While there was large participation across Turkey, thousands of workers took to streets in Ankara where the October 10 blasts claimed the lives of at least 128 people and left as many wounded.

The slogans of “Thief-Murderer Erdoğan” and “The dictator will be defeated, the people will win” resonated across the streets as the protesters vowed to bring Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP government to account.

Gathering at central Ziya Gökalp Street, thousands of workers from the two main trade unions, KESK and DİSK, carried a banner which read, “We are mourning, we are striking” and photos of the victims of the twin blasts.

Addressing the crowd Kani Beko, the head of DİSK, said those responsible for the massacre are those who demanded 400 deputies (a reference to the AKP) and added: “I call out the dictator once again here. You will be drowned in the blood you have shed”.

He said the massacre targeted those who gathered against the ruling of the palace and the war policies of those who shed blood. He said peace envoys, carnations and pigeons of peace were murdered in the massacre in Ankara.

He stressed that the identity of the murderers are evident, known very well from the previous blasts in Diyarbakır, Adana and Suruç.

Co-chair of KESK Şadiye Köse said those massacred came to Ankara to ask the rulers of the country: “How much longer will we sacrifice the bodies of our youth? How much longer will you perform dances of war on our bodies?”.

She said the massacres will not make them give up on their demand for peace.

Health workers, lawyers and transportation workers in Ankara joined the strike in large numbers, while university and high school students boycotted classes.

The strike started in Ankara with one minute's silence in almost all the workplaces and schools and many other places at the time of the October 10 blasts, 10:04am.

Gathering in front of Ankara Courthouse, lawyers from various organisations announced their participation in the strike and non-attendance at court sessions. The head of the Contemporary Lawyers' Association (ÇHD) Selçuk Kozağaçlı said, “You cannot mourn by working and laughing. We will be boycotting work for two days in our workplaces. A real mourning means to resist fascism.”

Libertarian Lawyers' Association (ÖHD) Ankara Branch co-chair Nuray Özdoğan said lawyers will closely follow the case of the massacre.

Students and academics at Ankara University gathered on Cebeci campus where they held a march to the entrance gate, leaving carnations on the street before holding one minute's silence at 10:04am in memory of the victims. Students and academics at Hacettepe and Middle East Technical University and high school students in Ankara boycotted classes in support of the general strike.

Students of Anatolian High School and Ege High School in Mamak district of Ankara took to the streets in protest at the massacre. The school administration of Ege High School closed the doors of the school in an attempt to prevent students from taking to the streets.

Many health workers in Ankara hospitals also joined the strike and provided service only for emergency cases. All the members of the two biggest trade unions in the health sector (SES and Dev-Sağlık İş) joined the strike, as did physicians affiliated to Turkish Medical Association (TTB).

Gathering in the garden of İbn-i Sina Hospital, hundreds of physicians announced their participation in the strike. The health workers joined the strike by wearing aprons on which they wrote “We are sad, we are angry, we are mourning”.

[Reprinted from Firat News Agency.]

Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.