Night time scavengers hit ODTU

As we sit far away and think things have gone quiet (so must be alright) in Turkey, on the night of 18 October, Ankara metropolitan municipality has staged a night time operation reminiscent of Istanbul police invading Gezi Park.

ODTU (Middle East Technical University – METU) students and local population have been protesting against the cutting down thousands of trees in ODTU ground to make way for a controversial motorway project.

Construction machinery belonging to the municipality, accompanied by the police, entered into the ODTU woods by breaking the fence. A group of man wearing municipality vests formed a human chain to stop anyone protesting from entering the area. In the social media, it is being said these men were in fact members of the AKP (ruling party) youth groups and not employees of municipality. This blurring of boundaries between those elected and those hired by them, and civilian members of political parties is disturbing.

Reports said police helicopter was also in the area. Two academics protesting against the midnight raid are said to be wounded by plastic bullets.

The Environment and Urban Development Ministry approved the plans of the motorway last week which were sent to ODTU Rector’s office. Reports say that ODTU was going to appeal to the decision in the courts. In fact a statement from the University published today (19 oct) confirms this and also states legally they should have till 4th November to appeal. The municipality was known to be concerned about a court decision against the project. So taking advantage of the holiday during the Eid (Tue – Fri) they seem to have started the project. Illegally of course as they did not wait till the end of the appeal period. Forced entry into ODTU land last night resulted in clearing off of 3000 trees – 600 of which were supposed to be replanted elsewhere – in one night! This kind of illegality happens all the time in Turkey: there was a court decision to stop the construction on Gezi Park when it started back in May.

With a website the banner of which is made up of photos of buildings alone (with 3 sea gulls and 1 palm tree), can we really expect any pro-environment decision to come out of the Ministry of Environment AND Urban Development?*

* Sehircilik in the name of the Ministry could also be translated as ‘Town Planning’ but I, for one, doubt there is any planning going on…let alone respect to the planning process

For Turkish news this blog is based on, photos and video, see:


Statement from ODTU in Turkish is here:

ODTU: Gezi of Ankara

There have been protests at Middle East Technical University (ODTU in Turkish) for a while now against the building of a motorway through the 100th year forest within its campus. This story of yet another illegal major infrastructure project is covered here in Turkish:

ODTU is becoming Ankara’s Gezi Park. Just as Gezi Park did not concern only those who lived around it but all Istanbul residents, the bypass that will link Anadolu bolouvard and Konya motorway and 100th year forest threatened by it is the concern of all Ankara residents. As Environmental Engineers Association General Secreatary Baran Bozoglu says the emissions from the cars using the debatable motorway will damage the forest defined as Ankara’s lungs, change the vegetation and pollute ODTU, 100th year and Cigdem neighbourhoods. 350Ankara activist Onder Algedik says the motorway will lead to urban sprawl. ODTU political science and public administration student Hadi Sinan Iskit agrees and adds ‘We will not allow this road to be built!’.

According to the University rector 3,000, according to environmental activist 5,000 trees will be cut down for the construction. There will be two bridges along the 4-km long motorway: a 100 meters long bridge above the main entrance to the University campus and a 40 km long one linking to Dikmen (neighbourhood). There will also be a viaduct in front of the main entrance to ODTU campus that will be 66 meters long and 30 meters wide. This viaduct will separate the two neighbouring areas of ODTU and 100th year and Cigdem districts.

The decision to build the road was made and approved by ODTU in 1994. The head of Ankara Metropolis Municipality Melih Gokcek describes the objective as “together with Eskisehir Road in the west, to reduce Ankara traffic”.

But this explanation by Gokcek does not convince the protesting Ankara residents. Environmental Engineering Association points to a serious planning mistake: the bottleneck in the traffic is before ODTU and hence the motorway will not help relieve it. General Secretary Bozoglu adds: “In any case you cannot solve traffic problems by building more roads. Because the road is wider, more cars would use it and create more traffic”. He adds before the motorway is built, the completion of the Cayyolu underground project as people shifting from the road to the metro may in fact solve the problem.

350Ankara activist Onder Algedik says: “All the data shows that to ignore public transport and build a 8-lane motorway is just a means to increase rent-seeking on urban land. Residents in Cigdem and 100th year neighbourhoods report visits by developers. The motorway will cause urban extension in Ovecler and Dikmen neighbourhoods further away. The objective of the project is “kill public transport, kill urban living” and create a new fossil fuel and urban land rent.”


Residents are also worried about the viaducts that will divide their neighbourhoods as they see the construction threatening security and air and noise pollution. 100th year is mainly populated by ODTU students, and Cigdem by ODTU teaching staff and pensioners who moved to the area for peace and quiet. One such resident Gonul Oner said “I am against the motorway with its enormous viaduct through our neighbourhood. In a few days, that road will not be enough either. Then what?” She favours public transport including metro. Kemal Avci, one of the first residents of the neighbourhood, says the neighbourhood needs a road but not just a large one. They are against the road if it will create more pollution and cut down trees. It must be possible to find another route for the road.

1.8 km of the road will go through ODTU land, 400 meters of which through 1st degree natural protection area. According to the environmental activists, the area was declared protected in 1995 which overrules the permission given to the road in 1994 as construction on protected areas is illegal (laws: 2863 and 5226). The project is also against the “Convention to Protect the World Cultural and Natural Heritage” which Turkey signed in 1982. In order for a construction project to go ahead in a protected area, Regional Protection Board needs to give approval. Such a decision is not yet given. On 8th September, lawyer Sedat Vural petitioned a case against the motorway as it will disrupt public order, is illegal and an arbitrary act. On 13th September, residents of Cigdem neighbourhood also petitioned a case to stop the construction.

ODTU forest also won Agahan Architecture, Environment and Portection Award in 1995 (a prestigious award in Islamic world) and TEMA Foundation award in 2003. ODTU Civil Engineering staff member Dr Erhan Karaesmen says “There is a huge forest in the middle of the yellow landscape of this arid land. It’s an unparalleled experience.”

CHP (Republican People’s Party) MP Aylin Nazliaka thinks the ongoing construction is illegal. She says the project has not been voted on by the Municipal Assembly and the public has not been consulted on it. Despite this the tendering process started one year ago. The project also started without the approval of the protection board. She asks: “How can he be so sure of what the board will decide? What will happen if the board decides to vote in favour of protection? Are we again be asked to pay for the expenditure?.


When you can’t get printed, you write on Post-Its

People started to leave post-it notes around to spread the news mass media in Turkey ignores or misrepresents.

The notes in these pictures are about the recent rape cases the accused rapists being released because their child victim did not put up a fight, because their adult victim was already not a virgin, because the accused came to the court wearing a religious head gear and holding a folded prayer mat, because because because….shameful.

korsan bilgi 5 korsan bilgi 4 korsan bilgi 3 korsan bilgi 2korsan bilgi 1


Also see:

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.



“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

Solidarity Park: poetry as resistance

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force” – Martin Luther King Aug 28, 1963

Solidarity Park is a space created by poets for poets from all over the world in a show of Solidarity with the verve, courage and “soul force” of the Turkish people as they struggle to own what is theirs. In this space we will share poems written and given in solidarity as well as images and reports  from the reality on the ground in cities and towns across Turkey.


Posted on June 10, 2013 by  | Leave a comment

“I cannot applaud tyranny, I can never love a tyrant.” Turkish poet Mehmet Akif Ersoy, quoted by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on stage before a crowd of 10,000 on 6th June, 2013.

According to Alev Yaman and Erda Halisdemir, reporting for English PEN, Erdogan also invoked Ersoy’s epic Safahat and 13th century Anatolian Sufi humanist poet Yunus Emre. Poetry, then, is at the heart of the struggle in Turkey, and — as with public space — no government, politician or party should be able to claim control over the power of poetry to inspire, persuade and empathise. We as poets internationally propose a poetic #ResistTurkey / #OccupyGezi to celebrate both the spaces and discourses of freedom of expression, which Erdoğan’s government has repressed.

We offer our words in solidarity, as translations and inspirations drawn from the creative protests in words and actions taking place across Turkey, and we invite you to join us in doing the same.

Please email us new or previously published poems that resonate with these issues, or alert us to links to any new poems being published online. Our email address is: Please submit no more than  three poems and include a short bio and an image that either reflects your thoughts on resistance or an author photo. We welcome poems in all languages, including sign languages and visual poetry. If you do have an English translation handy by a reputable translator then do send it along. Turkish-English and English-Turkish translators are also invited to get in touch!

“Come here, let’s make peace, let’s not be strangers to one another.” Yunus Emre

PEN report link:

Yours In Solidarity,
The Editors
Nia Davies, Sascha Akhtar, Sophie Mayer

Photos from 29-30 June

Placards opened at graduation ceremonies


“We aren’t building helicopters so that you spray tear gas from them!”

“We didn’t tell you not to use pepper (spray), you can make passata’

graduation 2

“We’ve studied electronics all these years, not seen such resistance”


“50% of us has graduated, we’re forcing the other 50% to stay behind” [referring to the PM’s assertion that he is keeping the 50% who voted for him at home rather than hit the streets]


“They said ‘there’ll be baroque opera’, we’ve come” from Gay Pride in Istanbul on 30 June [referring to the “plans” that the building in the place of Gezi Park will have baroque architecture style and an opera house]





Gezi has given us so much

Lots of our friends in the UK email or call us to express their sadness about what’s been happening in Turkey.


The 5 deaths, 7000+ injuries, still many critically ill causing concern about the death toll increasing and 100s, if not more, in detention, unfathomable violence by the police force and civilian thugs and what more lies ahead are without a doubt incredibly sad.


But these protests are also a positive thing. It’s hard to ensure they stay peaceful and are sustained. But for sure they have started a new era.


There are of course many well thought out, evidence-based and eloquently expressed writing about what Gezi has given us. But we’ve found this list on the social media. We don’t know who’s written it.   This, we repeat, is not to belittle the cost of Gezi but we wanted to share it.


Gezi has given us so much


  1. We stopped watching TV. We woke up. Our IQ increased.
  2. Our writing and drawing skills and sense of humour improved.
  3. We became fitter thanks to running up the hilly streets or stairs leading to Taksim; resisting by running, walking, jumping up and down, standing; and not eating much from the excitement of the resistance.
  4. We improved our observational skills to find the right information and our memory to remember it until we found a computer.
  5. Protesting took all our time; we didn’t have time to spend any money.
  6. We’ve had something to believe in, we are not bored any more.
  7. Yesterday was Monday. No one felt the Monday blues. Long Live Mondays!
  8. Smart phones and social media became nuisance for some but for us they’ve become an opportunity to show our disproportionate wit.
  9. Facebook was filled with interesting and sublime shares.
  10. We gained the habit of turning up where an event is taking place, rather than reading it in a paper.
  11. We’ve learnt who is brave, who is sold, who is honorable, who is a kiss-ass, who is self-respecting, who can be bought, who will not be sold, who just talks and who keeps their word.
  12. We’ve seen we are the majority and stopped feeling alienated.
  13. We increased our freedom and knowledge.
  14. Our musical and rhythmic skills improved from clanging pots and pans, chanting slogans and singing marches.
  15. We are more conscious about keeping the streets cleaner because resisters kept cleaning and reminding us to do the same.
  16. We smile more, behave more politely and respectfully towards each other, because resisters do the same and keep reminding us to do the same.
  17. We learnt what ‘civil defence’ is from practising it.
  18. We learnt to stand by each other, to help each other, to share, to sacrifice, to be friends / siblings.
  19. We’ve learnt that our true friends really do not let us down.
  20. We’ve seen and experienced that our parents were behind us, and if required, they were in front, defending us.
  21. We’ve used our ‘disproportionate’ intellect in every possible opportunity…when moving protest didn’t work, we had standing man and woman.
  22. All tricks were outed.
  23. Copy and paste (in facebook) has become a habit.