Press Release by Taksim Solidarity – 13 June 2013

For Turkish:

For the groups that make up Taksim Solidarity

“Fundamental rights and freedoms cannot be voted on. You cannot make a referendum about an individual’s individual rights and freedoms, or a people’s social freedoms and freedom to hold beliefs.” – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 1 December 2009 AKP Group Meeting.

It is clear that right to a healthy environment and demanding freedom which are recognised by our constitution and international agreements to which Turkey is a signatory, cannot be voted on in a referendum. Today, the resistance that has come to be identified by Gezi Park is the social expression of such rights and demands.

We state once again that ‘to meet our demands’ is, under normal circumstances, a legal duty of the government. In fact, the legal decision on the park was ‘to halt the construction’. [Taksim] Solidarity is continuing its insistence to remind this duty.

In light of the developments yesterday evening, we see and wish to see the government abandoning threats, police raids, plastic bullets, tear gas and water cannons and talking about a ‘referendum’ as a step towards and promise of at least there being no more deaths. However, in the statements made afterwards by the Prime Minister and government spokespersons we still see that the threatening language is sadly still being used.

These statements show that what’s meant by ‘referendum’ is an empty promise.

It is also clear first from State Council statements then from the statements the Prime Minister made that such a referendum will not have a legal basis. Therefore, we repeat that the real discussion is not about whether a referendum should be held and how but about whether there will be tangible steps towards meeting our demands. As one such tangible step Republic of Turkey Public Audit Office has made contact with Taksim Solidarity to investigate the complaints about what is happening in Taksim. They also stated that individual applications will be accepted.

It is crucial to realise how dangerous it is to polarise people as those who protect their park and lives and those who favour building on the park, or those who want a referendum and those who don’t.

Those who came to Gezi Park in Istanbul did not do so because of such demands and expectations [referendum]. Thousands of young people and women who stay in tents and are attacked with tear gas never had such an objective. Hundreds of thousands of people who filled Taksim Square and Gezi Park did not do so to listen to such a promise. Deaths and injuries, of which there is over 5000, did not happen so that a referendum can take place. Referendum was never called for by those who chanted ‘do not touch the youth – we want freedom’ in 77 cities of the country in protest of the attacks.

What the [people in] the square expect and demand are clear, simple, human, legal and legitimate.

The European Parliament decisions are clear in their statement of the legality of these expectations. Every tangible step taken to meet these demands are extremely important and must be taken into account carefully. A more realistic and easier first step that will serve social peace would be to investigate those who are responsible for police violence and to remove them from duty.

Therefore, we expect first of all the government and then all other authorities to focus their energies and responsibilities on solutions that will not lead to new polarisation. We want them to take fast and result-oriented steps instead of divisive, diversionary and ambiguous steps.

We hope that dialogue will start that examines the demands raised by citizens, reflects the feelings of millions of citizens and that includes TAKSIM SOLIDARITY. We invite all democratic institutions, artists, intellectuals and the media to contribute to taking such tangible steps.

With all these in mind, we will continue to be in Gezi Park, just as the first day we sat down with our folk songs, books and poems, tents, sleeping bags and all our demands.

We are here just as we’ve been for 17 days!
We continue to defend our lives and our rights whatever the place or the situation is!


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