As the heroic movement of the masses of Turkey continues, the brutal oppression by the police and security forces has increased. There is an urgent need to lend a hand of solidarity to our brothers and sisters there.
The response by Turkish Prime Minister, Erdogan, has been remarkably similar to that of dictators that the Arab revolution brought down in 2011. A combination of pretending the movement is nothing with intensifying the oppression against it. On June 3rd, Erdogan, while visiting Morocco, claimed “extremists are running wild” and that the protesters are “arm-in-arm with terrorism” so as to justify their oppression.
This brutal reaction has already led to three deaths, the first martyrs of the movement. Tragically, they’ve all been young people.
First it was a 20-year old, Mehmet Ayvalitas. The Turkish Doctors’ Association confirmed that he has died after a vehicle slammed into a crowd (a well-known tactic of security forces) and many were taken to hospital. The head of TDA confirmed to The Associated Press that a four-wheel drive was rammed into a group marching along an Istanbul highway late on Sunday.
The second martyr of the movement came in the city of Hatay, a Mediterranean port in the southern part of the country. His name was Abdullah Comert and he was also only 22 years old, the NTV television reported Tuesday, June 4. “Comert was seriously wounded… after gunfire from an unidentified person,” the station reported, quoting the local governor’s office. Comert was a leading member of the CHP youth organisation.
There is also an unconfirmed report of another young person being shot in the head with a real bullet in Dersim in the Tunceli province, a majority Kurdish Alevi province in the Eastern Anatolia.
The varied locations of these tragic deaths show the wide nature of the movement that has covered the entire country. The government itself has reported demonstrations in 94 cities. These include small towns and big cities all over the place, from west to east.
Protesters are battling tear gas canisters, water cannon, vehicles rammed into the crowd and even direct fire. Many are also arrested, with Istanbul detainees being transferred to the notorious main security directorate in Istanbul. Attempts by the Istanbul Medical Chamber to set up temporary medical facilities to treat injured demonstrators were prevented by police. Many have been prevented from even accessing the main public hospital in Taksim area, near the focal point of the protests. Care-givers report that some have already lost their eye-sight as a result of attacks.
What is worse, there is an attempt to impose a blackout on the protesters. The world media has paid not nearly as much attention to the events as they deserve. Additionally there are attempts to cut specific locales out. For instance, our correspondent reported that electricity has been cut in Alsancak, a central quarter of Izmir as police launched a brutal attack on the protesters.
None of these oppressive acts has dented the will of the masses and the movement continues. Tuesday and Wednesday (4th and 5th of June) are to see a two-day general strike (first day, being a ‘warning’ strike and next day, the main effort) with demanding the resignation of Erdogan. Already, there are rifts in the top as President Abdullah Gul, from the same party as Erdogan, has taken a softer approach, criticizing the police attacks.
Now it’s the time for the workers and youth of the world to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Turkey. IMMEDIATE ACTION IS NEEDED. We can force them back.
What You Can Do
1) Call or Email Turkish ambassadors
You can find a list of Turkish diplomatic posts around the world here: http://www.mfa.gov.tr/turkish-representations.en.mfa
You can also contact your own country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry or Member of Parliament or Congress and ask them to stand for the same.
A model letter can be like the following, prepared by LabourStart:
Prime Minister Erdogan
I support the demands of trade unionists and others in Turkey that police violence against protestors must stop, that those responsible must be held accountable, that those who have been arrested must be freed and charges dropped, and that the ban on demonstrations must be lifted. (LabourStart campaign: http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=1840).
2) Pass resolutions
Get your trade union local or branch of similar progressive organizations to pass resolutions in solidarity with the movement in Turkey and ask the Turkish government to stop the police violence.
3) Hold rallies, events
Hold rallies in front of Turkish embassies and consulates for the same goals. Hold events to raise solidarity with the movement in Turkey.
The workers and youth of Turkey should know that they are not alone. Their movement has inspired hundreds of thousands around the world. They deserve our support.