By Sophia Jones in Huffington Post – Thousands of men, women and children gathered in Istanbul’s historic Taksim Square on Sunday for the annual gay pride festival only to face water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas. “Where are you, my love?” sang one group of LGBT rights activists, waving rainbow flags and holding hands, swaying to the popular Turkish love song. “I am here, my love!” Moments later, Turkish riot police aimed a water cannon into a crowd of people (including this reporter) sending them running for safety as water pounded them from behind. Belongings flew off with the force of the water as people struggled to stay on their feet — a scene that caused several young police officers to laugh openly, mocking the drenched protesters.
By Simon Tomlinson in The Daily Mail – A Turkish policeman whose teargassing of a woman in a red dress became a symbol of environmental protests two years ago has been ordered by a court to plant 600 trees. The image of Ceyda Sungur, dubbed the ‘lady in red’, her hair billowing upwards as officer Fatih Zengin sprayed tear gas in her face, was endlessly shared on social media. It was also replicated as a cartoon on posters, mugs and stickers during the protests in Istanbul. After being found guilty misconduct yesterday, Zengin’s sentence appeared to contain a deliberate irony. The protests, which began as a bid to stop the redevelopment of Gezi Park in central Istanbul, were dismissed by the government at the time as ‘nothing to do with trees’.
One of the big difficulties, I think, is going to be facing the existing property rights to a degree that the existing population can re-establish itself. They probably want to build their property rights in the way things were before, so they will get back to old-style urbanization, and that is maybe what will happen — in which case the question will be where the resources will come from. Still I think the opportunity exists to explore anti-capitalist alternatives. Whether this opportunity has been taken, I don’t know. But to the extent that Kurdish thinking has been influenced by somebody like Murray Bookchin, I think there is a possibility for the population to explore something different. I was told there are assembly-based forms of governance in place in Rojava, but I haven’t seen anything yet. I worry a little bit, you know, the left sometime has this romanticism. The Zapatistas said “revolution” and everybody got romantic about what they were doing.
Turkish men aren’t known for wearing skirts. But it’s expected they will turn out in large numbers in Istanbul later to protest about violence against women in Turkey. They’re joining others outraged by the murder of 20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan who was abducted on 11 February and killed for apparently trying to prevent a bus driver from raping her. It’s thought she tried to fend off her attacker with pepper spray but was stabbed and then hit on the head with a metal bar. Her body was discovered in a riverbed several days later. As BBC Trending has been reporting all week, Aslan’s murder has led to a huge outpouring of anger, not only on the streets but also online.
The teachers union organized the rally to demonstrate in favor of secularism in Turkey’s education system, as required by the country’s constitution. More than 100 people were detained Dec. 20 following a police crackdown on a demonstration in central Ankara organized by a teachers’ union. The demonstrators gathered in the morning in the Turkish capitol’s Tandoğan Square upon a call from teachers’ union Eğitim-İş to demand “Respect to Secular Education and Labor.” Police used pepper spray, water cannons and tear gas to disperse the teachers when a group reportedly insisted on marching towards Kızılay.
The community of the western Turkish village of Yirca has experienced a roller coaster of sadness and elation in recent days, winning an important court battle against a coal project but losing 6,000 valuable olive trees. Just hours after bulldozers from Turkish construction firm Kolin Group flattened the trees to make way for a coal-fired power plant, a Turkish court unanimously declared the project illegal. The resulting publicity from the people-powered lawsuit also saw the Turkish government publicly distance itself from the controversial project. It was the culmination of an intense three-week period that started on October 21 when Yirca villagers and Greenpeace Mediterranean activists were brutally attacked for trying to protect the trees and prevent construction of Kolin’s proposed 510-megawatt coal-fired power plant.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following response to the news that the International Criminal Court (ICC) would not be opening a full investigation into the 2010 Israeli attack on a humanitarian flotilla to Gaza. Israeli forces killed nine people, including 18-year-old U.S. citizen Furkan Doğan who was shot several times as he was filming the 4:00 a.m. raid and then shot in the face at point blank range as he lay there wounded. It is outrageous that the ICC is refusing to prosecute Israeli officials despite acknowledging that there’s a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed.
The indictment submitted to the court has accused çArşı members of establishing an organization and attempting “to create an image similar to the Arab Spring that could be provided to the foreign press with the aim of ousting the legal Turkish government by illegal means.” The Beşiktaş football club’s most famous supporter group is known for its left-leaning ideology and emphatic dissident stance on a panoply of topics, as well as their sensitivity to social movements. They played an important role in spreading the Gezi protests as they were among the first groups to continue demonstrating despite a brutal police crackdown on protesters following the first raids on Gezi Park last May. Many çArşı members were detained during the protests as the group became a target of officials. The fresh indictment reportedly prepared in the aftermath of a year-long investigation also alleged that the group attempted to invade the Prime Minister’s Office next to Dolmabahçe Palace during the protests.
Amid Israel’s Operation Protective Edge to stop Hamas attacks from Gaza, a “Freedom Flotilla” is being organized in Turkey to bring humanitarian aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclave with the protection of the Turkish military, according to an unconfirmed media report. The flotilla, called “Freedom Flotilla II,” is being organized by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), the same organization that was behind the Mavi Marmara flotilla that sought to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010. Israel Navy commandos boarded the ship, were attacked, and killed nine of the attackers. IHH chairman Bulent Yildrim was quoted by The Middle East Monitor as telling Gulf Online last week that the activists would set sail as soon as they receive the necessary permit from the authorities in Ankara and that the Turkish military would provide protection to the ship. Diplomatic officials said Jerusalem was following the reports carefully, but stressed that it was not clear whether the flotilla would ultimately set sail. So far there has only been a declaration of intent, with no firm date set, one official said.
May 31st. saw thousands of people gathered peacefully in several cities across Turkey to commemorate the first Anniversary of Gezi park protests. Much like the last year of struggles, the people were overshadowed by the excessive, unnecessary, unprovoked police violence that for over the past year has become synonymous with thoughts of Turkey. What began a year ago as a protest to save a community park from destruction has been transformed by a year of repeated police assaults into a struggle for the people of Turkey to have the basic rights to free speech and to peacefully assemble. The heavy handed aggression used by Turkish Police to stifle the voice of the people since the first days of Gezi Park has evolved over the past year to a thoughtless, indiscriminate, citizen punishing machine. Combined with the unrelenting state media propaganda that’s constantly villainizing the youth of the nation to enable this type of brutal aggression to be permissible in the public eye, would make the most repressive regime’s jealous and take note.
A Turkish court has ordered the arrest of four Israeli commanders who were allegedly involved in the raid on the the Mavi Marmara aid ship off Gaza in 2010. The Istanbul 7th Court of Serious Crimes also decided May 26 to request an Interpol Red Notice for the arrest of former Israeli Chief of Staff, Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, former Naval Forces Cmdr. Eliezer Alfred Marom, former Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlinir and former Air Forces Intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi, who are all being tried in absentia. The court argued that an arrest warrant had become necessary for the legal procedure as the defendants had neither attended the trial nor responded to an invitation sent to them through the related department of the Turkish Justice Ministry. No one at the Israeli embassy in Ankara was immediately available for comment. An Israeli official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, described the court’s decision as a “ridiculous provocation.” “If this is the message that the Turks want to send to Israel, it was perfectly well understood,” said the official, declining to elaborate further on what this meant for the reconciliation process.
On Tuesday, May 13, at 15.00 pm, Turkey witnessed one of the greatest tragedy’s of its history when an explosion killed over 300 and trapped more than 700 mine workers in Soma Coal, a private lignite mine in Soma. The whole country is in a state of mourning with the 1000′s of family members who are devastated from losing their loved ones. Just about 10 days before the accident in Soma, PM Erdogan’s party rejected a proposal made by the opposing party in parliament to discuss and take action about workers safety in coal mines throughout Turkey. Earlier Prime Minister Erdogan stated in a press conference that “explosions like this in these mines happen all the time.” Yesterday thousands of people, many grieving, marched in memorial of the Soma miners and to demand a change to routinely ignoring workers safety conditions, while money is allocated to other projects. On PM Erdogan’s visit to Soma yesterday he was greeted with kick’s to his vehicle and was booed by grieving protesters and called a “murderer” and “thief.” Agency LeJournal is reporting that Nazım Serhat Fırat one of their photographers is still detained over his photographs. Below is one of Nazım
A Turkish court heard testimony on Monday that eight men, including four police officers, pummelled a teenage protester to death with baseball bats and truncheons during anti-government demonstrations last year. Ali Ismail Korkmaz, 19, died after being repeatedly beaten during protests in the western city of Eskisehir on June 2 in an attack that was caught by security cameras. He was one of eight people to die in the three weeks of unrest that convulsed the country of 76 million. “I saw Ali Ismail being kicked on his back and head again and again,” Semih Berkay Yapici, a key eyewitness, told the court. “He lost his balance, fell on the ground, hit his head on a stone and lost consciousness. His eyes were closed,” he said in testimony that moved several in the courtroom to tears. Yapici said once Korkmaz regained consciousness he was again kicked in the head. He tried to flee, but was then set upon by plain-clothes policemen, one wearing a gas mask, who ruthlessly kicked and beat him on the legs. “He then took a turn and went out of my sight,” said Yapici. “His face is etched into my memory.”
Afghan refugees in Turkey have been protesting outside the UN refugee agency in Ankara for 26 days — denouncing discriminations against them and accusing the agency of taking too long to process their asylum requests, leaving them stuck in Turkey in “unbelievably difficult” conditions. Dozens of Afghans have been sitting outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) headquarters day and night in a makeshift camp that is home also to about 40 children, according to local reports. As their cries for a fairer screening process and better conditions in Turkey went unheard, about 12 of them went on a hunger strike and sew their lips in protest. ‘Why don’t you do anything for us?’ “Afghan refugees and asylum seekers have come to the streets of Ankara to convey their demands which are based on the fundamental rights of asylum seekers to the UNHCR’s deaf ears,” the group said in a statement. “The refugees’ rights are violated by UNHCR incompetence and Afghan refugees are deprived of their fundamental rights.”