Turkey: We need your support!

We have received the following appeal from Turkish activists who are involved in the mass movement in Turkey.

On May 28, 2013 a group of activists gathered at the Gezi Park (a central park) in Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey, to peacefully demonstrate the municipal plan to demolish the park and build the 94th shopping mall in the city. Turkish police attacked the protestors violently with tear gas and water cannon, directly targeting their faces and bodies. Dozens of protestors are hospitalized and access to the park was blocked without any legal basis. The disproportionate police response to the peaceful demonstrators triggered nationwide protests.

The first reaction of Prime Minister Erdogan was typically arrogant, taunting the protesters. “If you get 20 people we can get 100,000, if you get 100,000 we will get 1 million” he confronted his own citizens, adding that his mind was made up and there would be no change in the project.

Now, the protest is no longer just about a park in Istanbul, it’s about democracy and human rights which have been violated by the government over the course of 11 years. Protests have spread to 67 cities in Turkey and there are thousands of people who have been demonstrating abroad (e.g., London, NYC, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Toronto, Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Prague, Paris).

Why is this protest significant?

Following the excessive reaction of the police, since May 31st, hundreds of thousands of people across the country has gathered in support of the protesters. This is the first nationwide demonstration in Turkey’s history against the government’s policies that restrict basic civil rights. For the first time in the history of the Republic of Turkey, people from different political and ethnic backgrounds and social classes are coming together for an urgent change. Despite the continued peaceful nature of the demonstrations, the Turkish police have continued to intensify excessive violence by using water cannons, rubber bullets and teargas, even by throwing gas canisters into houses, shopping malls, and mosques. Maltreatment has caused over a thousand serious injuries, some leading to alleged deaths. According to the formal sources, 730 people are under custody. There are worrisome reports of alleged tortures. Excessive force against peaceful protestors breaches international human rights standards and must be stopped URGENTLY.

Unfortunately, the people of Turkey are suppressed by police brutality and media censorship. What is extremely tragic is that the mainstream newspapers and TV channels in Turkey are not covering these protests and police violence stories, so international and social media are the only sources that provide real coverage about the protests. That also means that the majority of people who have no access to internet are blinded.

These demonstrations are about:

  • The abuse of state power
  • Restrictions on freedom of expression and speech
  • Human rights
  • Harsh attacks of neoliberal policies
  • Abolition of public urban spaces
  • Media censor

What can you do to help the protestors in Turkey?

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT to demonstrate your solidarity with people in Turkey. Please help us disseminate the information, help us raise an international awareness.

1. Voice your concern directly through signing the following petition: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_the_VIOLENCE_in_Turkey_1/?forThcb

2. Lobby your own government to condemn the Turkish government and its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. You can call or e-mail your representative in Congress or Parliament and let them know that you expect your government to speak out for freedom of expression and against the police violence in Turkey.

3. Voice your concern directly to the Turkish government by writing to the Turkish embassy in your home country. Addresses and details for these embassies can be found here: http://www.mfa.gov.tr/turkish-representations.en.mfa

4. Use social media including Twitter and Facebook to circulate the below suggested messages, tagging @aforgutu for AI Turkey:

@Valimutlu Police use of force against #direngeziparkı protestors is excessive, unacceptable & breaks international HR standards @aforgutu

@Valimutlu @RT_Erdogan Istanbul authorities must immediately stop police violence against peaceful #direngeziparkı protestors @aforgutu

Amnesty International’s issuing international call to its activists to take action over police violence in #Taksim #direngeziparkı @aforgutu