The woman in red speaks

Using the influence of a symbolic photograph is not a sign of justice

The woman in red (Ceyda Sungur) is not satisfied that the police officer who sprayed her is being prosecuted (http://translatingtaksim.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/policeman-who-sprayed-tear-gas-to-woman-in-red-faces-three-years-in-jail/)

woman in red

In an article she wrote in Radikal (http://www.radikal.com.tr/turkiye/kirmizili_kadin_radikal_icin_yazdi_o_polisin_yargilanmasi_yetmez-1171207), she says:

I didn’t want to speak till now as I didn’t want to change the symbolic value of ‘the woman in red’ and I didn’t want to make an individual more important than the movement itself. But now I feel I owe an explanation especially to the families of those who were killed during Gezi. No one should talk of justice until the killers and those responsible for the killings are punished. Prosecuting a 23 years old police officer for acting alone yet still under the orders of his superiors is not sufficient compensation for the violence incited by a government who described the police as ‘legendary’.

During the 7 months since Gezi, no case has been brought against the police for those they injured. While this is the case, prosecution of a police officer spraying tear gas into my face contributes nothing to justice. It is clear that this prosecution will not go beyond using the influence a photograph had internationally and beyond an attempt to quash the rebellion of millions.

Prosecuting officers whose job security and working conditions are dictated by their superior is no consolation for those who lost their lives, suffered brain injuries, lost their eyes, broke their limbs and sustained other injuries, and for their families and those of us who managed to stay alive during Gezi.

ETHEM, ABDULLAH, MEHMET, İRFAN, MEDENİ, SELİM…

How unfortunate that the following were not wearing a red dress

Ethem Sarısülük – when he was shot in the head by a police bullet;

Abdullah Cömert – when he died after being hit on the head by a tear gas canister;

Mehmet Ayvalıtaş – when he was run over by a car during the protests in the “1st May” neighbourhood;

İrfan Tuna – when tear gassed in his work place;

Medeni Yıldırım – when he carried a placard against the construction of a police station;

Selim Önder – when he went to visit his daughter living in Gümüşsuyu;

Zeynep Eryaşar – when she joined her children guarding the Gezi Parkı;

Ahmet Atakan – when he protested to demand the killers be punished;

Ali İsmail Korkmaz – when he was beaten to death; and

Serdar Kadakal – whe he sat outside his place of work.

Berkin Elvan did not commit a crime other than going to the shops to buy a loaf of bread. [when he was shot in the head by a tear canister and has been in a coma since June, and earlier this month celebrating his 15th birthday still in a coma]

Just because these people were not accidentally captured in a press photo cannot be an excuse for not prosecuting and punishing those responsible for their death and suffering.

Of course today we cannot talk about a justice and equity in a system which prosecutes journalists fighting for freedom of speech, lawyers helping those unjustly treated and academicians defending independent science and protects those responsible for the killing of Hrant Dink (7 years ago this Sunday) and many others.

Despite all this, nothing will be forgotten and this unjust treatment will not be accepted. Justice will only be achieved through fighting for our rights and I believe Berkin will wake up for this. 

Turkey at European Human Rights Court

The families of Ethem Sarisuluk, Ali Ismail Korkmaz and Abdullah Comert have applied to European Human Rights Court to bring those who are responsible for these murders to justice.

The families’ lawyers stated:

“In the face of increasing human rights violations in Turkey, there is next to no chance of getting justice in Turkey. Investigations of the police for the use of violence and torture are insufficient. In particular during the investigations and court cases about the murder of Ethem Sarisuluk, Ali Ismail Korkmaz and Abdullah Comert this has become even more apparent.”

While the normal route to EHRC is through exhausting all legal routes in a country, in this case, the lawyers said there is no hope of receiving a just trial (or any trial for that matter) and hence they applied to EHRC now on the basis of violation of Articles 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11.

People from Turkey who live in / around Strasbourg and further away in Europe (even London) have gathered outside to support the families.

For Turkish: http://turkiye.net/haber/alternatif-bakis-haber/gezide-oldurulen-genclerin-davalari-aihmde/

‘I tripped him up, police beat him,’ confesses civilian suspect charged with killing Gezi protester

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A civilian suspect in the investigation into the murder of Gezi Park protester Ali İsmail Korkmaz in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir has confessed that a riot police officer told civilians, including himself, to catch protesters so they could “beat them with sticks.”

Arrested suspect police officer Mevlüt Saldoğan shouted to them to “catch protesters,” the fourth civilian suspect in the investigation, Ebubekir Harlar, said in his testimony taken by Eskişehir’s 6th Criminal Court of Peace on Aug. 15, daily Radikal reported.

Harlar said he was working in a bakery in central Eskişehir where protests continued and he was there to prevent the Gezi protesters from “looting.”

Footage showing assailants in civilian clothes beating protesters with sticks emerged on July 12 as part of an investigation into the death of Korkmaz, who was buried in his hometown of Hatay on July 11 after spending weeks in hospital with severe injuries sustained during the beating.

Harlar said the civilians who were holding sticks in the video were plain clothes police officers.

“A policeman shouted ‘catch that guy.’ Two men, probably the owners of bakeries, stopped him and I tripped him up, but did not beat him. I did it to help our state’s police. The other three beat him, kicking and punching. One of them was the police officer, who told us to catch him and he hit him in the head,” Harlar said.

That police officer is Mevlüt Saldoğan, according to Harlar’s testimony.

The arrests came after the Gendarmerie Criminal Unit recovered security camera footage showing a group of people beating Korkmaz. The footage had earlier been reported as erased.

Eight people, including four public employees, were detained on Aug. 7, while four of the suspects were later released. One of the arrested public employees is a police officer in the anti-terrorism unit Eskişehir Governor Güngör Azim Tuna recently refuted claims that the police was involved in the killing. “Mainly civilians were involved in this incident,” Tuna said on Aug. 8.

Korkmaz, 19, was the fifth person killed since the start of the protests in late May.

Original article: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/i-tripped-him-up-police-beat-him-confesses-civilian-suspect-charged-with-killing-gezi-protester-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=52981&NewsCatID=341

On the case of killing Ali Ismail Korkmaz: A new suspect

On July 10, university student Ali Ismail Korkmaz (19), a Gezi Resistance protestor who was severely battened by a group of casually-dressed people on June 3 while running away from police intervention, died in a hospital in the central province of Eskişehir.

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It was reported that two of three surveillance cameras nearby the crime scene had no recordings and the only remaining camera recordings turned out to be “damaged” and “missing”. Prosecutors launched investigations on law enforcement officers who collected the footage. An expert report included “damaged” footage from the time of incident, however no scenes of beating were included.

Later on, Gendarmerie Criminal Unit was able to retain footage of murder moment that has been deleted. On August 7, a court arrested 4 suspects including a policeman. Orhan Çetingül, Chief Prosecutor of Eskişehir, held a press conference, saying that the deletion of footage has not been made by police. “3 suspects admitted the deletion in their testimonies.”

Gürkan Korkmaz, advocate and brother of Ali Ismail Korkmaz, said a new suspect has been arrested after being detected by surveillance camera footage, for the killing of Ali Ismail Korkmaz. While the request of defense lawyer for the release of their clients have been rejected, the total number of arrests climbed to 5 including one policeman.

“The new arrested suspect is a civilian. The court also rejected the release request of other defendants,” he said.

For the original source: http://bianet.org/english/youth/149179-new-suspect-arrested

Related article: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/mothers-mourn-at-gezi-protester-ali-ismail-korkmazs-funeral.aspx?pageID=238&nid=50541

4 arrested in Ali Ismail Korkmaz murder case

On July 10, university student Ali Ismail Korkmaz (19), a Gezi Resistance protestor who was severely battered by a group of casually-dressed people on June 3 while running away from police intervention, died in a hospital in the central province of Eskişehir.

The crucial 18 minutes of the CCTV footage was reported ‘lost’.

It has now been announced as found.

3 of the 4 arrested are workers in a bakery on the street Ali Ismail was beaten up, the 4th is a policeman.

For full article in English: http://www.bianet.org/english/youth/149040-4-arrested-in-ali-ismail-murder-case

The Gezi families

 
 
Parents of Ali İsmail Korkmaz cry over their son’s coffin on July 11. (Photo: DHA)
 
 
 
 
Ali İsmail Korkmaz was only 19 when he died this week of cerebral hemorrhage. The first-year university student was brutally beaten up by a group of people dressed in civilian clothes on June 2 as he was running from the police that used tear gas and water cannon to disperse a protest he had joined in the central Anatolian province of Eskişehir. He fought for his life for 38 days at a hospital before finally succumbing to death on July 10. His death brought the death toll from weeks-long Gezi Park protests to 5.

34-year-old Lobna Allami, hit in the head by a gas canister fired by the police in the Gezi Park on the first day of weeks-long protests, is one of the very first victims. Allami was among the small group of environmentalists who had camped out at the Gezi Park to protest plans to demolish it. The heavy-handed police intervention against the group on May 31, which even the government admitted was excessive, was a catalyst that quickly turned an environmentalist sit-in at the park into nation-wide anti-government protests.

After two brain surgeries and staying in coma for 24 days, Allami is now paralyzed on one side and unable to talk. She is one of the nearly 8,000 people injured in the Gezi events.

Korkmaz and Allami are among the most publicized cases of Gezi casualties. Most of the remaining thousands are just numbers making up the Gezi statistics, without a name or a face. But the agony that families of Korkmaz and Allami have expressed indicates the depth of desperation and feeling of alienation that families grappling with similar affliction across Turkey are dealing with.

In a show of solidarity, mothers of two other protesters killed during Gezi events, 26-year-old Ethem Sarısülük and 22-year-old Abdullah Cömert , joined Korkmaz’s mother at her son’s funeral in the family’s hometown, Hatay. No one from the government, the Governor’s Office or other state institutions was there.

The mayor of Eskişehir, a politician from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has contacted Korkmaz’s family to extend his get-well wishes but no one from the Governor’s Office or the Police Department has done the same, father Şahap Korkmaz lamented in an interview he gave days before his son’s death.

“The people of Eskişehir are supporting us,” he said in the July 3 interview. “Ali’s friends who live close to the hospital gave us their home when they left for their hometown for the summer holiday so that we could stay there. Every day, people come and say they are praying for us, that they are ready to help us. We are praying together with them. We are waiting for my son to get well and attackers to be identified and face justice,” he said.

That last wish, however, seems to be problematic, to the further chagrin of the family. Korkmaz complained in the same interview that his son could not get any treatment for about 20 hours because doctors insisted that he should first testify to the police due to the circumstances surrounding his injuring. His son was admitted to hospital only after he, helped by his cousins, went to a police station and testified about what happened the night before. The father Korkmaz also claimed that security camera recording from the alley where his son was attacked was tampered with, resulting in loss of a critical 15-20-minute part from the footage from a camera of a nearby hotel. The police, who obtained the recording from the hotel and gave it to the prosecutors, say some parts are missing because the hotel owner turned off electricity as a precautionary measure to protect his business.

Footage showing some protesters running from the police beaten up by unidentified people in Eskişehir. Lawyers for Korkmaz family say the missing part in the recording may have shown the attack on Ali İsmail Korkmaz.

Given the fact that Gezi protests were joined by millions of people across Turkey, it is hard to describe them as a “marginal” event, despite Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s firm conviction that they are. People attending the protests did include hardcore protesters from leftist or other extremist groups but a big majority were the people who were taking to the streets for the very first time to make a political point.

Ali, who was studying to become an English language teacher, was not an activist either, according to his father. He and his roommates were trying to move to a new apartment those days and they were returning home that night after signing a rental contract for their new house. When they saw there was a protest going on, they joined it out of curiosity, said the father.

Allami, according to her sister, was no different. “Idealist and emotional,” Allami’s sister, Fatin, described her in another interview.* “She likes to travel, she rides horses, swims, scuba dives, sky dives but afraid of planes, she cleans forests from garbage, cleans beaches, she takes wounded cats on the streets to veterinary, she takes care of them, feeds them.”

“… She was a kid on the street. With shorts, shirt and light shoes. Not a terrorist exchanging fire with police, or an anarchist. A person who is sitting in Cihangir on a summer day and saying ‘Don’t touch my park, Don’t touch my lifestyle!’”

Like Korkmaz’s family, Allami family has also received no word of sympathy from the officials, even though the protest Lobna took part in was characterized by the government as a peaceful one by honest environmentalists.

“She is just sitting; then you come and shoot her. You make her suffer unimaginable pains. You leave her with a very hard memory that can’t be forgotten in a lifetime and don’t even call to say ‘Get well soon, how have you become?’ Is this humanity?” asked Fatin Allami.

Gezi families’ pain is real. And as authorities and a big part of the media refuse to acknowledge their plight, they feel not only agonized but also alienated and ostracized. Leaving aside the obvious humanitarian concerns it raises, a policy of turning a blind eye to the suffering of thousands of families across Turkey and refusal to meet their legitimate demands for justice for their loved ones is politically harmful. Anyone who is concerned with containing the social and political fallout from the Gezi protests and restoring social peace should be worried upon hearing what the families are saying.

“Maybe they were afraid of our reaction,” said Fatin Allami of state authorities’ failure to contact them. “Or maybe I’m too naive and they think ‘They got what they deserved’.”

*To read the interview in English, click here.

They did not ‘loose’ their lives….they were killed

All they did was to use their RIGHT to assembly and voice their FREEDOM of speech. Clearly not allowed in the democracy of Turkey. As they were killed.

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“We were struck down, my people, don’t forget us!”

Ali Ismail Korkmaz – was beaten up brutally by a group of civilians in Eskisehir. Was too scared to go to hospital. When he went, he was not seen because he was a protester. They told him he was fine. The next morning he couldn’t speak. He was taken to another hospital and into an operation for brain hemorrhage. He’d been in coma for more than a month. He died on 10 July 2013. Aged 19. 

Ethem Sarisuluk – was shot in the head by a police officer. Ethem did not have a gun in his hand. Despite there being video evidence of the moment of shooting, the officer was released due to ‘self defence’. He died on 12 June 2013. Aged 28. 

Abdullah Comert – was in the protests in Hatay. Conflicting reports came as to whether he died with blunt force to the head or with a bullet to the head. He died on 3 June 2013. Aged 22.

Mehmet Ayvalitas – was in Istanbul. Died under a car that drove into the crowd of protesters. He died on 3 June 2013. Aged 22.

Medeni Yildirim – was protesting the extension of a police station in Lice. He was shot at the back. He died on 28 June 2013. Aged 18.

There are over 9000 injured, about 1000 serious condition, 90+ people have lost their eye(s) due to being hit in the face by gas bombs.

Veteran activists across the world say don’t use the numbers of the dead or injured. People are blind to these numbers. People die all over the world every day.

Can you be blind to this moment when Ali Ismail Korkmaz’s mother heard the news of her son’s death? This is his red jacket he had on him when he was attacked. His mother has been wearing it since.

Alinin annesi