Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Protests continue in Turkey

The Turkish protests that began in May in Taksim Square, Istanbul have long-since been driven to other parts of the city by police aggression, especially the profligate use of tear gas against unarmed protestors--although activists still frequently brave riot cops to retake the Square demanding freedom of assembly & speech. The many grievances that compelled tens of thousands to protest Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government last summer are exacerbated & by no means redressed.

Erdogan is likely blistering at recently losing the Turkish bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics partly due to the protests. The Olympics committee was exposed & embarrassed by the massive protests in Brazil against their drain on public funds to entertain the monied elite while education & health care are bled dry. They wouldn’t want a repeat of that in Turkey. If social rebellion keeps up the Olympics won’t be able to find a hospitable national venue anywhere on the planet--or the rich will have to pay for their own parties.

After being driven out of Taksim Square, activists organized an Occupy-type open-air headquarters in another municipal park in Kadikoy (on the Anatolian side of Istanbul) where they hold meetings, forums, workshops, & sponsor childcare for activist parents. On September 10th, riot police in the city of Antakya shot 22-year-old activist Ahmet Atakan in the back of the head with a tear gas canister. Despite many witnesses & the official autopsy, officials refuse to take responsibility for young Atakan’s death, claiming he fell from a building. US media report Atakan’s death was “under disputed circumstances.” (US media places more stock in official lies than eye-witnesses.) Ahmet Atakan is now the sixth person killed in the Turkish uprising.

Thousands of protestors in Istanbul, Ankara, & Antakya have clashed with riot cops every night since then chanting Atakan’s name. US media reports say protestors “have taken on a harder edge” with protestors now launching projectiles & using burning barricades to provoke riot cops using tear gas, grenades, & water cannons. Since the entire world witnessed the extreme aggression of riot cops against peaceful protestors in Taksim Square last summer, we can take this as just another rendition of media accounts that protests around the world “turned violent” when riot cops attacked unarmed protestors. Imagine that the exercise of free speech now requires wearing gas masks like this protestor in Istanbul! Protestors have a right to demand freedom of assembly & speech & to defend themselves when attacked. That is called defense, not provocation.

(Photo by Ulas Yunus Tosun/EPA)

1 comment:

  1. The Turkish government supports the war on Syria in the name of Democracy. But look at what they do to their own people who oppose their ideas and policies – they try to shut them up with teargas and violence.