Erdoğan’s electioneering: aftermath of October 10 bombing in Ankara. In Turkey’s November 1 election, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) increased its votes from 41% to 49% in the five months (143 days) from the election in June. The AKP won a majority of seats — 317 out of 550. The governing party gained 5 million extra votes. It adopted very risky policies to get this result, but was determined to win the elections — no matter how many lives were lost.
I. Zekeriya Ayman
Russia’s current military action in Syria, its first such action outside former Soviet territory, has shocked the world. Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan exclaimed, miserably: “Russia has no border with Syria, so why are they so interested in Syria?”
Akit and Aydinlik are two Turkish newspapers usually diameterically opposed. Akit is pro-government, and Islamic fundamentalist, while Aydinlik is the paper of the nationalist and Maoist Workers Party (IP). But on one day during the recent protests by the Kurdish people in Turkey in solidarity with besieged city of Kobane (also known as Kobani), in which almost 40 people were killed, they ran almost the same headline.
With the US and allied nations, including Arab countries, carrying out air strikes in Syria, the Turkish government is trying to convince the West it does not support the Islamic State (IS) forces the US is targetting. Newly elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (the former prime minster) linked the adjective “terrorist” with “IS” for the very first time on September 23 during a US TV interview while attending the United Nations climate summit. “Turkey will do whatever needs to be done to stop this terrorist organisation, militarily, and politically,” he said.
“The Gezi Resistance is the biggest popular uprising in modern Turkish history,” said long-time socialist activist Nuray Sancar. “It smashed the fear we have been living with since the military coup in 1980.” It has now been a year since the Gezi Resistance started with a handful of people protecting trees in Gezi Park in Istanbul's Taksim Square in June last year. Protests spread to 79 cities across Turkey in the next few months.
Cracks have been deepening in Turkey's new religious ruling class since the Gezi uprising in May last year. There is now an open and brutal war between two governing factions. This will likely escalate after the local government elections on March 30. Followers of Turkey’s best-known cleric and moral didact, Fetullah Gulen, have been encouraged for decades to work within Turkey's government and have accrued much power.
Ender Imrek is a member of the Taksim Platform, the key organising centre during the Gezi Park protests. He is also former vice-president of the revolutionary socialist party Labour Party-Turkey (EMEP) and a central executive member of left-wing umbrella group the People’s Democratic Congress (HDK). The HDK played a key role during the Gezi protests, when police brutally evicted protesters seeking to stop the destruction of trees in Taksim Gezi Park in May. He spoke to Green Left Weekly's I. Zekeriya Ayman * * * Can you tell us about the HDK?
The capacity of the Turkish revolutionary left to help lead a mass revolt has been tested during the past month of the Gezi protests. They are now calling it “the Great June Resistance”. The left clearly feel lighter, refreshed. Their spirit is higher than it has been for decades. And most importantly, they have a direction to grasp. The path forward is clear. A united people’s struggle for revolution has been the dream of Turkey's left for more than four decades. Finally they have experienced a real united mass peoples movement.
During the early days of the Gezi protests, researchers from the University of Istanbul surveyed 3000 activists in the heart of the struggle around Taksim Square. Seventy-one percent of respondents described themselves as “pro-freedom” with no affiliation to any organisation, most of them first-time activists. Only 7.1 % said they were a member or supporter of any group. Barricades on the streets are nothing new to Turkish people. Barricades have been put up against the authorities many times.
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.