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/


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.

Turkish police fire tear gas to break up Internet protest

8th Feb 2014 – (Reuters) – Police fired water cannon and teargas to disperse hundreds of people protesting in central Istanbul on Saturday against new controls on the Internet approved by parliament this week. The new powers, once approved by the president, will let authorities block web pages within hours, in what the opposition has said is part of a government bid to stifle discussion of a corruption scandal. Riot police advanced along Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue behind armoured vehicles firing water cannon at protesters, some of whom waved flags and held up placards.

Continues: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/02/08/uk-turkey-internet-protest-idUKBREA170OA20140208

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 (https://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.


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. 

Turkish police fire water cannon, plastic bullets to disperse anti-government protesters

27th Dec 2013 – Turkish riot police fired water cannon and plastic bullets to break up an anti-government demonstration by hundreds of protesters.

Police blocked hundreds of protesters from gathering in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square and pushed them away to the nearby streets. A high-level bribery and corruption investigation involving close government allies has led to a new outpouring of anger against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Voice of Russia, AFP

Demonstrations in Istanbul

Turkey Moves to Silence Dissenters, but With One Eye on Its Image Abroad

Demonstrators waved Turkish flags and shouted slogans in Gezi Park in Istanbul in June, as protests were spreading. Aris Messinis Agence France-Presse Getty Images

15th Nov 2013 – By im Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu  Published: November 14, 2013

Late one night last summer, at the height of antigovernment demonstrations sweeping Turkey, a group of protest leaders rushed to the home of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, the capital, to  negotiate a solution to the growing crisis.

They came away with a tentative agreement, but it was  never accepted by the rank-and-file protesters, and  so the movement was later crushed by the water cannons  and tear gas of Mr. Erdogan’s police force.

Then last month, one of those leaders, Eyup Muhcu, was  summoned by a local prosecutor and interrogated as part  of a spreading investigation of those who led the protests. “There is no concrete charge, yet we were called in to give official statements,” said Mr. Muhcu, an architect and a member of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, a group of activists that played a central role in the demonstrations. “For what?” For the government, the answer seems clear, Mr. Muhcu said: to silence the opposition.“It has come to a point where members can’t even tweet without fear of being investigated for their thoughts,” said Mr. Muhcu, one of the few activists still willing to offer a public critique of the government. As the memory begins to fade of those sweeping protests, which began to save Gezi Park in central Istanbul from being razed and became the most serious challenge to Mr. Erdogan’s decade in power, the government has moved aggressively against its perceived adversaries. More than a thousand students, teachers, doctors and activists — even mosque imams — have been hauled in for questioning for their role in the civic unrest. Dozens of journalists have lost their jobs for reporting on the demonstrations, and one of Turkey’s wealthiest families now has an army of tax inspectors digging through its accounts, apparently for giving refuge in a fancy hotel it owns to demonstrators escaping clouds of tear gas last summer. But in a country with a long history of military coups, police brutality, torture and disappearances, many Turks and outside experts said they were actually expecting a more brutal crackdown after the protests. They note that while many people have been questioned for their participation, comparatively few have been charged with crimes, although a prosecutor in Ankara has threatened to charge nearly 500 people in a single court case.

“It is not a witch hunt, but definitely the government has tightened the screws,” said Saban Kardas, a professor at the University of Economics and Technology in Ankara. “It’s a preventive move, so these protests don’t happen again.”

Continues: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/world/europe/turkey-moves-to-silence-dissenters-but-with-one-eye-on-its-image-abroad.html

Taksim Commune: Gezi Park and the Uprising in Turkey

By Brandon Jourdan and Marianne Maeckelbergh

This short documentary tells the story of the occupation of Gezi Park, the eviction on July 15, 2013, and the protests that have continued in the aftermath. It includes interviews with many participants and footage never before seen.

Since the end of May 2013, political unrest has swept across Turkey. In Istanbul, a large part of the central Beyoğlu district became a battle zone for three consecutive weeks with conflicts continuing afterward. So far five people have died and thousands have been injured.

The protests were initially aimed at rescuing Istanbul’s Gezi Park from being demolished as part of a large scale urban renewal project. The police used extreme force during a series of police attacks that began on May 28th 2013 and which came to a dramatic head in the early morning hours of Friday May 31st when police attacked protesters sleeping in the park.

Over the course of a few days, the police attacks grew to shocking proportions. As the images of the heavy-handed policing spread across the world, the protests quickly transformed into a popular uprising against the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his style of authoritarian rule.