A by stander is killed – 2nd victim to police bullet

Yesterday, it was local and European elections in the UK where this blogger is based.

I voted on the way to work …what a lovely experience, and a privilege…even if it doesn’t means as much in the greater scheme of things, I don’t care. And the poll clerks were very friendly, the pride in their job was pulpable and they certainly didn’t look like they were worried about how fairly the votes would be counted and they were not planning on sleeping on the ballot paper bags over night to make sure that the ruling party does not swap them with false papers. [see March 30 election stories from Turkey] I felt genuinely happy leaving the polling station. More so than I’ve felt for a while now. 

then I came online and saw that police has shot a young man in the head in Okmeydani, Istanbul. By the evening, he was dead. Not just dead. Killed. By the police. With a gun. He was not a protester. He was at a Djemevi (Alevi place of worshiip) attending a funeral.

And now more and more people are asking the question – why are the majority of people who died since Gezi Alevis? and remind us all the other times Alevis were killed by the state, or their losses were not acknowledged by the state. Others point out that there isn’t a deliberate targeting of Alevis. I hope the latter are correct as I am seriously concerned about the future of the country and cannot get rid of visions of civil war. 

More on Ugur Kurt, who was killed yesterday. We wish his family all the patience in the world and are very sory for their, our, loss.

the text below is from http://revolution-news.com/turkish-police-critically-injure-ugur-kurt-when-shooting-wildly-at-student-protest/

you can watch him being shot or the moments leading to it, on this link, too. I can’t bring myself to watch it.

Image

Uğur Kurt (30), a contract worker in Beyoğlu Municipality, was shot dead with live ammo fired by police attacking the Okmeydanı weekly student protest for murdered Gezi protester Berkin Elvan.

Istanbul police have staged a crackdown on members of Dev-Genç youth organization of high school students who staged a march in the district of Okmeydanı today for Berkin Elvan who was murdered by police at the age of 15 during last year’s Gezi Park protests in Istanbul.

Uğur Kurt, was attending a funeral in nearby Djemevi (Alevi place of worship), when he was shot in the head by a real bullet fired by police attacking the student protest. Kurt who has been rushed to Okmeydanı Training and Research Hospital is reported to have been passed away.

 

For more photos, see: http://www.narphotos.net/SpotNews/Thumbnail/death-of-ugur-kurt/153/

 

Opposition ballots found in trash bags in southern Turkey

Photo from DHA

Photo from DHA

1st April 2014 – Used ballots, marked for the main opposition Republican  Peoples’ Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have been  found in the garbage of six schools used as polling stations in the southern  province of Osmaniye. City residents reported the incident to the police when they found the used  ballots in the trash in Osmaniye’s Düziçi district. According to reports, the schools where the ballots were found are the Uzunbanı Elementary School, Atatürk High School, Atatürk Elementary School, Cumhuriyet High School, Cumhuriyet Elementary School and ÇEAŞ Anatolian High School. It was claimed that the ballots were planned to be burned. Candidates from the CHP and MHP have filed an official complaint to the Public Prosecutors’ Office and have appealed to the Supreme Election Council (YSK). The Düziçi Police Department has launched an investigation into the incident. The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate Ökkeş Namlı won in the Düziçi district with 10,294 votes. The CHP’s Alper Öner received 9,854 votes, while the MHP’s Muhammet Kaya received 5,179 votes.

From: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opposition-ballots-found-in-trash-bags-in-southern-turkey.aspx?pageID=238&nID=64390&NewsCatID=338

 

The End of Erdogan

16th March 2014 – By Henri J. Barkey. It is hard to imagine how in any society a Prime Minister caught on tape firing journalists because he does not like their point of view or instructing television stations to stop the broadcasting of an opposition leader’s speech in parliament could survive. And this is only the tip of the iceberg of corruption allegations that have been leveled at this particular PM’s ministers, their families, and most critically at him and his own son.

Welcome to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. While he’s indirectly conceded the interference with the freedom of the press, the Prime Minister and his stalwarts have engaged in a scorched-earth strategy of blaming a vast conspiracy for the attacks against him. Never mind that ministers have lost their jobs and their sons have been arrested (along with a state-owned bank CEO). Never mind the millions of dollars worth of cash found in houses owned by all these figures, or the taped conversations leaked to the public, mainly through social media outlets, revealing that judicial investigations have been ongoing for sometime. Forget all that: It is not the alleged thieves, crooks, and their enablers who are at fault, but the accusers. So goes the logic in Erdogan’s Turkey. There’s nothing wrong with having millions of dollars and euros stashed at your home or office or elsewhere, and sweetheart deals with shady businessmen are perfectly okay. It’s questioning these practices that is the real threat to the nation.

At the heart of the conspiracy, it is claimed, is a “parallel state” led by Fethullah Gulen, a reclusive cleric who sought refuge in the United States in 1999 when he was persecuted by the then-dominant Turkish military establishment. Gulen and Erdogan had earlier formed an alliance against this common enemy. But now, with the military forced back into its barracks, they have turned on each other. For Erdogan and his supporters this vast conspiracy, instigated by Gulen and his presumed followers in the judiciary and the police force, is aided and abetted by a slew of villains. These include, Americans, Jews, Israel, Germans, neocons, CNN, Financial Times, a variety of international and domestic banks, the Council on Foreign Relations. Even the Queen of England, if you can believe it, has nothing better to do with her time than plot the downfall of the Turkish Prime Minister and his supporters. Why, exactly, would all these people have it in for Erdogan? It’s a mystery, of course.

But let’s set aside these fantasies, at long last. The truth is that Erdogan is the principal and lead actor in his own demise. As good a politician he has been up to recent times, these allegations somehow caught him by surprise. He has been the unchallenged leader of Turkey for a decade. No one has dared cross him, and no one has figured out how to beat him. The opposition has been weak, and the resources he has marshaled have enabled him and his party, the Justice and Development Party, AKP, to build a formidable patronage network that encompasses a vast segment of the Turkish press, business groups, lots of NGOs, think tanks, and segments of the bureaucracy. The money that he and his family members have allegedly collected has not merely gone toward self-enrichment, but also toward financing and building a monumental network of individuals and organizations whose only loyalty is to Erdogan.

Continuous: http://www.the-american-interest.com/articles/2014/03/13/the-end-of-erdogan/

Turkish teen injured in anti-govt protests dies

11th March 2014 – A teenager who fell into a coma after being hit by a tear gas canister during mass anti-government protests last year died at an Istanbul hospital on Tuesday, his family said.

“To our people: We lost Berkin Elvan today at 7am. Condolences to us all,” his family said in a message on Twitter. After his death, family supporters outside the Istanbul hospital began pelting a police minibus with objects and the police responded with tear gas. They had also used tear gas yesterday to disperse a crowd keeping vigil at the hospital.

Berkin was walking to buy bread when he was hit on the head by a tear gas canister fired by police as mass anti-government protests swept Istanbul in June 2013. He was 14 at the time. Berkin’s story – he spent 268 days in a coma – gripped the nation and became a symbol of the heavy-handed tactics used by police to reign in the biggest demonstrations that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had faced since coming to power in 2003.

The protests started as a small environmentalist movement to save an Istanbul park from being razed. They snowballed into a nationwide wave of protests against Mr Erdogan, who critics say had become increasingly authoritarian. The teenager’s death brought the toll from the unrest to at least eight including a policeman. The protests saw an estimated 2.5 million people take to the streets across Turkey over three weeks to demand Mr Erdogan’s resignation.

More than 8,000 people were injured in the demonstrations, according to the medics.

From: http://www.rte.ie/news/2014/0311/601422-turkey-berkin-elvan/

http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/03/11/dispatches-turkey-justice-berkin-elvan

Berkin Elvan died at the age if 15

Berkin Elvan died at the age if 15. Shot by a police canister on his way to buy a loaf of bread last summer.

Turkey’s Gul seen approving tighter control of Internet, courts

18th Feb 2014 – (Reuters) – BY NICK TATTERSALL. Turkey’s president has signaled he will approve new laws tightening controls over the courts and the Internet, bolstering embattled Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan but deepening concerns about free speech and the rule of law.

The two bills, passed by parliament this month and awaiting President Abdullah Gul’s approval, are seen by Erdogan’s critics as an authoritarian response to a corruption inquiry shaking his government, a bid to stymie court cases and to stop leaks circulating online. The new law on the judiciary will give the government more influence over the naming of judges and prosecutors, while the Internet bill will enable the authorities to block access to web pages within hours without a prior court order.The moves by Turkey, which has been seeking membership of the European Union for decades, have raised concern in Brussels, which fears it is shifting further away from EU norms, and unnerved investors in a country whose stability over the past decade has been based on Erdogan’s firm rule. The government says the laws will further democracy by taking back control of a judiciary it sees as in hock to a powerful but unaccountable cleric bent on unseating Erdogan, and by protecting individuals’ privacy on the Internet.

Police fired teargas to disperse demonstrators protesting against the Internet law in Istanbul this month, and parliamentarians debating the judicial reforms came to blows on Sunday, leaving one with a broken nose. Erdogan’s opponents have called on Gul, who co-founded the ruling AK Party with him in 2001 but is generally seen as a more conciliatory figure than the combative prime minister, to use his powers to veto the bills. Speaking to reporters on a trip to Hungary late on Monday, he gave little sign he would do so. “As the president I cannot put myself in the position of the constitutional court. But in a very general way, I can make my objections concerning the points I see,” he was quoted as saying by the Hurriyet and Haberturk newspapers.

Gul pointed out he had raised concerns about the AK Party’s first draft of the judicial reform bill, which had since been amended, and that the opposition had already indicated it would in any case appeal to the constitutional court.

“That is our tradition. Presidents before me would say ‘the constitutional court decides on the subject of laws in which there are arguments for and against’,” he was quoted as saying.

Gul has also said there are “problems” with some elements of the Internet law, which the country’s communications minister was quoted on Tuesday as saying may still be amended.

POLITICAL AMBITION

Gul has made little secret of his desire to return to mainstream politics and is seen as a future leader of the AKP, an ambition his critics say leaves him too wary of conflict with Erdogan to act as an effective check on his power.

“Gul wants to serve as president for a second term and has the desire to chair the AKP after Erdogan, so even if he does not fully agree, he is approving controversial regulations from the party,” Turkish political analyst Atilla Yesilada said in a report.The battle for control of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which appoints senior members of the judiciary, lies at the heart of a feud between Erdogan and influential U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen, whose followers say they number in the millions, is believed to have built up influence in the police and judiciary over decades and leads a powerful worldwide Islamic movement from a forested compound in the United States. Erdogan blames Gulen, a former ally who helped cement AK Party support over the past decade, for unleashing the graft investigation, which he sees as an attempted “judicial coup” meant to undermine him in the run-up to local and presidential elections this year. The cleric denies any such role. Gul is seen as enjoying more support from Gulen’s network of sympathizers, who view themselves as pro-democratic and reformist, then Erdogan, whose views on issues from abortion to alcohol they see as unnecessary interference in private life.

But Gul has also been critical of the cleric’s influence in state institutions in recent months, appearing to close ranks with Erdogan and echoing the prime minister’s warning that a “state within the state” will not be tolerated. In the eyes of Turkey’s opposition, too weak in parliament to stall AKP bills, that opens the way for Erdogan to impose an increasingly authoritarian rule.

“If the president approves the HSYK law, the judiciary will be bound completely to the government. The separation of powers will be completely shelved,” said Devlet Bahceli, head of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). “I fear that Prime Minister Erdogan will sit at the top of the judiciary as the chief judge.”

(Additional reporting by Asli Kandemir and Daren Butler; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

From: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/18/us-turkey-government-idUSBREA1H18Z20140218

Policeman who sprayed tear gas to ‘woman in red’ faces three years in jail

15th Jan 2014 – A Turkish police officer who sprayed pepper gas directly into the face of several protesters, including a woman in a red dress in what became one of the most iconic photos from last summer’s Gezi resistance, will face three years in prison, Doğan news agency reported Jan. 15.

Istanbul Public Prosecutor Adnan Çimen demanded up to three years in prison for F.Z., a 23-year-old police officer, who used tear gas against a group of peaceful protesters in Gezi Park on May 28, 2013, on charges that he abused his authority.

Ceyda SungurThe prosecutor also demanded that F.Z. be dismissed from the profession in the indictment. According to the indictment approved by the court on Jan. 9, F.Z. sprayed tear gas at a group of protesters, including Ceyda Sungur, who became known as the “woman in red” after the incident, without first issuing any warning. The officer violated the regulations on police actions during mass incidents and the regulation on the use of tear gas, said the indictment. The prosecutor also said F.Z. was closer than one meter to Sungur and that he targeted her face in using the chemical agent without warning. He continued to spray the gas after she turned her face to protect herself, said the indictment. F.Z. used tear gas in the same way on others at the scene and also kicked some other protesters, the indictment said, noting that Sungur was not involved in any violent action before and after the police’s use of tear gas. The Gezi Park, or June, Resistance in Turkey began at the end of May against a government redevelopment plan. The attempt to save the last green area in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square evolved into the country’s largest turmoil in recent history, with prolonged protests across the country, resulting in the deaths of seven protesters and one police officer. Thousands of people were also injured as a result of sustained police brutality.