By Staff of Reporters Without Borders – This year, the Istanbul-based daily Cumhuriyet has distinguished itself by its defence of media freedom in Turkey but has paid a high price. As the government kept stepping up its harassment of its critics, Cumhuriyet’s independent and courageous journalism triggered one prosecution after the other, a smear campaign and the repeated blocking of its website. “The person who committed this crime will pay dearly, he won’t get away with it so easily,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in June when announcing on TV that he was bringing a formal charge of “spying” against Cumhuriyet editor Can Dündar.
By Staff of The Christian Science Monitor – ANTALYA, TURKEY — Police in the Turkish Mediterranean city of Antalya detained dozens of people Sunday during a series of protests denouncing a G-20 summit that is underway in a nearby seaside resort, although the demonstrations were mostly peaceful. Security is tight during two-day meeting that was expected to be dominated by discussions about how the G-20 nations will respond to the deadly Paris attacks, claimed by the Islamic State group. Demonstrators were being kept miles away from the venue at a secluded seaside resort some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Antalya city.
By Joris Leverink for Telesur. The results of Turkey’s snap elections came as a shock to many, but especially to those who had bore the brunt of the AKP’s anger after the party had lost its majority in parliament for the first time in thirteen years. The five months between the two elections were marred by violence in which hundreds of people lost their lives; guerrillas and soldiers, policemen and citizens. Two of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Turkey’s history killed almost 140 people, and dozens of people were reportedly killed when security forces attacked neighborhoods and towns were militant youths had picked up arms to protect themselves from the state’s violence. Hope turned to anger; euphoria to disappointment. “How can the people reward them for all the corruption, the killings and the repression?” was an often-heard credo on the streets of the de-facto capital of Turkey’s Kurdish region. But, after a brief night of mourning and a few isolated clashes between excited youths and the police, Diyarbakir woke up the next morning to a bright blue sky and the warmth of the Mesopotamian sun. People were still angry, disappointed, sad and indignant, of course, but this is something the people of Kurdistan have dealt with all their lives. And they weren’t about to give up hope just yet.
By Sophia Jones for The Huffington Post – ANKARA — No group has claimed responsibility yet for Saturday’s twin bombings in Turkey, the worst terror attack in the country’s history that left at least 95 people dead at an anti-war rally. But many Turks insist they know exactly who has blood on their hands: the Turkish government. “The murderous state will be judged!” thousands of men, women and children cried in Ankara’s Sihhiye Square on Sunday, their hands held high in a sea of peace signs. “The martyrs of the revolution are immortal!” Political tension and distrust have only deepened in the wake of the attack that targeted labor union members, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) supporters and leftists.
By Staff for Al Jazeera. Ankara, Turkey – Thousands of people have attended a rally in Ankara under heavy security to remember the at least 95 people killed in twin bombings in the Turkish capital. The demonstrators on Sunday filled Sihhiye Square in central Ankara, close to the site of Saturday’s blasts outside the city’s train station, with some shouting anti-government slogans. The rally was called by labour unions, leftist groups, NGOs and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) – the same groups that had called the peace rally targeted in Saturday’s attack. Two senior officials told Reuters news agency that initial signs pointed to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) responsibility in the Ankara bombings. However, several demonstrators blamed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the attack, shouting “Erdogan murderer”, “Government resign”, and “The state will give account”.
By Constanze Letsch and Nadia Komami for The Guardian. Ankara, Turkey – At least 95 people have been killed and around 250 wounded in the deadliest terror attack in Turkey’s history after two explosions targeted a peace rally in the centre of the capital. Twin explosions outside Ankara’s main train station on Saturday morning targeted hundreds of people who had gathered to protest against violence between authorities and the Kurdish militant group, the PKK. Turkish government officials said the explosions were a terrorist attack carried out by suicide bombers but no group has yet claimed responsibility. Turkey’s prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, was holding emergency meetings with government officials and security chiefs on Saturday afternoon.
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.