Turkey

This article was first published on June 1 at defnesumanblogs.com. For things to help, please see Amnesty International’s Call for Urgent Help and LabourStart's appeal in support of Turkey's trade unions. * * *
Artists, students, intellectuals and citizens of New York City, together with supporters of Occupy Wall Street, came together on June 1 in Zuccotti Park to show solidarity their friends, brothers and sisters who are occupying Gezi Park in Istanbul. Since May 27, citizens of Istanbul from all backgrounds have been staging a peaceful resistance in Gezi Park, the city's largest public park, protecting it and its trees from a large gentrification project to transform a public park into a shopping center.
When the humble “Occupy Gezi” (Occupy Promenade Park) protest in Istanbul’s Taksim Square was brutally attacked by police on May 31, protests spread like wildfire throughout other cities and the Turkish left was in the thick of it. In the early days of the protest, Sirri Sureyya Onder -- national MP for the umbrella organistion of the Turkish-Kurdish left, the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) -- lay his body, with others, in front of bulldozers to stop them destroying the park’s 70 year old trees.
Police raids have targeted members and leaders of Turkey's public sector union KESK in the early morning of February 19, global union solidarity site Labour Start said in an appeal for support The appeal said: “This new attack against the Turkish trade union movement, carried out by the authorities in 28 cities across the country, resulted in the arrest of at least 100 unionists, including many members of teachers' union Egitim Sen.
The statement was released the Kurdish Association of Australia on January 11 condemning the assassination of three Kurdish activists in Paris. The Kurdish people have long struggled for self-determination in Turkey, and other states that claim parts of historic Kurdistan. Turkey has responded to the Kurdish struggle with brutal repression and moves to wipe out the Kurdish identity. * * * On the 9th of January, 2013 three Kurdish women activists ― including a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ― were shot dead in the Kurdish Institute of Paris.
Thousands of people marched through the streets of Istanbul on January 19 to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the killing of journalist and human rights activist Hrant Dink. Dink’s murder symbolises the rising wave of nationalism and chauvinism in Turkey in recent years. Dink was an Armenian-Turkish journalist, human rights activist and a prominent member of his community. He was 51-years-old when he was murdered by a 17-year-old right-wing assassin on January 19, 2007 — gunned down outside the office of Agos, a bilingual newspaper that he edited in Istanbul.
On June 1, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) announced an end to its 13-month unilateral ceasefire. Since 1984, the PKK has waged an armed struggle against the Turkish state for Kurdish self-determination. A day earlier, imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan announced that he was withdrawing from negotiations. He cited a disconnect between the Turkish government’s promised reforms and continued violent repression of Turkey’s Kurdish population.
The 17th LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite and transsexual) Pride Week ended with a Pride March in Taksim, central Istanbul, on June 28, Bionet.org said the next day. It said more than 3000 people took part. Bionet.org said the crowd, gathered around a huge rainbow flag in Taksim Square, were at first prevented from marching by police. The crowd protested the police action, shouting slogans for about an hour. The police then allowed the crowd to march “without placards or slogans”.
In Turkey’s capital of Istanbul, more than 200,000 people gathered at Taksim Square on May 1 in the first May Day demonstration allowed in the square in 33 years. May Day marches had been banned there since 37 people were murdered a 1977 May Day demonstration there. The government had violently repressed past attempts to celebrate May Day in Taksim Square. Marches carried banners reading: “Secure job and a humane life” and “Jobs, Bread, Freedom”.
The Tuzla Shipyards in Istanbul entered the spotlight last year with the back-to-back deaths of five workers in 12 days. Most recently, on May 18, a 31-year-old welder, Murat Caliskan, was sacrificed in the drive for profit.
Tayad is the Association of Solidarity with the Families of Prisoners and is part of the Front for Rights and Liberties (HOC) in Turkey. Both organisations were instrumental in supporting Turkish “death fasters”, who recently had a significant victory against the abusive regime. Green Left Weekly’s Rachel Evans spoke to Mesut Eroksuz, an Australian representative of Tayad.
Tayad is the Association of Solidarity with the Families of Prisoners and is part of the Front for Rights and Liberties (HOC) in Turkey. Both organisations were instrumental in supporting Turkish “death fasters”, who recently had a significant victory against the abusive regime. Green Left Weekly’s Rachel Evans spoke to Mesut Eroksuz, an Australian representative of Tayad.
Turkish activists who have been on hunger strike in protest at the treatment of political prisoners in Turkey’s F-type isolation prisons have ended their “death fast”, following the Turkish government’s announcement that it would improve conditions in the jails. Prisoners will now be able to meet together in groups and have greater time to socialise and see visitors. Lawyer Behic Asci was taken to hospital for treatment after ending his fast, after 293 days without food. Since 1982, 122 protesters have lost their lives through the death fasts. Human rights groups, student organisations and unions joined demonstrations in recent months in support of the campaign. The Australian TAYAD (Solidarity with Political Prisoners) committee, in a January 26 statement welcoming the decision, said: “We will continue our struggle with all different means of resistance until isolation is removed totally.”

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