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/

 

Miners killed in Turkey – not accident, not faith but crime

We are very sorry to be coming back online after a while with such bad news:

157 workers were killed in the Soma coal mine in Turkey yesterday. 273 workers are still unaccounted for. They join the 270 people who died in work-related accidents in the first three months of 2014.

According to International Labor Organization (ILO) figures, Turkey ranks first in Europe and third in the world for fatal work accidents. The ILO says 18 out of 100,000 insured laborers die every year in work accidents, seven times greater than the EU average of 2.5.

Those who are fortunate enough to live hardly face brighter prospects. More than a million subcontracted workers in the private and public sector work without job security, deprived of their right to join unions and participate in collective bargaining.

Millions more work as minimum-waged labourers, making 846 TL [US$400] per month, below the official hunger limit of 1,200 TL per month.

Coal miners are expected to die in this land of cheap labour and expendable lives. “Dying,” Turkish PM Erdogan declared following a 2010 explosion that killed 30 workers at a Zonguldak mine, “is the fate of the coal miner.” “Those who enter this profession should be aware of its risks.”

Not fate. Nor accident. This is systematic murder.

http://www.turkiyenewspaper.com/Economics/4664-labor-minister-occupational-safety-poor-in-turkey.aspx

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/turkey-trade-union-restriction-hostility-government-labor.html

“On April 29, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) had submitted a motion to Parliament to investigate work-related accidents at the mine in Soma, only for the proposal to be rejected with votes from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).”

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/151-killed-hundreds-trapped-by-coal-mine-explosion-energy-minister.aspx?pageID=238&nID=66438&NewsCatID=341

This blogger knows at least one academic personally who have been sarning the government about occupational deaths. Coal – why coal at this day and age with such wind and solar potential in the country anyway? And how dare a PM say – as Erdogan did a few years back – that risk of death is part of mining and miners accept it when they take on the job. Even if statistically this is the case where in the job description of a PM it says “make statements based on statistics, make no attempt to change them”!

Checking the social media – some are not covering this for whatever reason, some are expressing their outrage through prayer, some are organsing demonstrations. Last year almost to the day there was a bombing in Reyhanli, which was a crucial factor in pushing at least some people to the streets, this year will Soma be the same? In the meantime, innocent people continue to die.

***
The authorities cannot give a certain number as to exactly how many miners were under ground at the time of the explosion. Isn’t this enough sign that health & safety rules were not adhered to?

A tweet acount opened just to make one statement about the accident said that one worker was taken out on strecher with oxygen mask on his face, when his sister held his hand it was alreay cold, she fought her way into the ambulance, when the doors closed they pulled the mask off and covered his face with blanket. They wanted to show him as wounded to the media and people waiting, while he’d already been dead.

***
The number of deaths at 157 seems to be a deliberate underestimate.

***
Within half an hour of writing the above the number killed rose to 201.
http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-27403061

***
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/13/turkey-mine-blast-people-killed-trapped-rescue-operation

Apologies for typos, post written on a phone.

CHP’s Ankara candidate vows to defend votes as police crack down on protest

1st April 2014 – ore than two days have passed since the end of the March 30 elections, but tension over counting and the victors remains latent, with anger over alleged electoral fraud in Ankara spreading to points around the country. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) appealed to district election boards of Ankaraover irregularities in the local mayoral elections in which the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) incumbent won a narrow victory.

“We will not let any votes of the people of Ankara be wasted. We’ll follow the votes given for us until the end,” Mansur Yavaş, the CHP candidate for Ankara mayor, said in a press conference Apr. 1 noting that his party did not believe the election was fair. Apart from Ankara, the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) appealed the votes in three provinces, Iğdır, Kastamonu and Kütahya, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) appealed for a recount of votes in Istanbul’s Kartal district. The main opposition party also demanded a recount in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district.

In Ankara, some votes given to the CHP were included in the records of the ballot boxes of other parties, while some CHP votes were not recorded at ballot boxes, Mansur said, adding that around 12,000 ballot boxes were being examined one by one with the help of at least 500 600 young volunteers.

Continues: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/police-use-water-cannons-as-protesters-denounce-vote-rigging-allegations-in-ankara-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=64391&NewsCatID=338

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.

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.

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. 

Amnesty International reports on the Gezi Crackdown

Taken from: http://humanrightsturkey.org/2013/10/02/release-of-major-report-amnesty-report-on-gezi-crackdown/

The report on the Gezi Crackdown that was released today, available here in English and here in Turkish, is comprehensive and compelling, detailing the extent of police violence, ranging from beatings, to promiscuous and unlawful use of tear gas and water canon, to sexual violence. It highlights the urgency of the attack on freedom of expression and assembly and the continuing nature of police impunity from prosecution. And it highlights the extent to which the crackdown continues to target perceived enemies.

Amnesty staff and volunteers in Turkey, along with Amnesty researchers, risked their own health and safety to produce an accurate account of events in Turkey. It is richly detailed, fully sourced, and absolutely damning.

I’ve broken down components of the report on the main Amnesty USA blog site, Human Rights Now and that blog will be released later in the day. For now, you can read the report (linked above) and watch the video that was released alongside it.

Good news from Greece: Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos arrested

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Greek police have arrested the leader of the far-right Golden Dawn party, Nikolaos Mihaloliakos, on charges of forming a criminal organisation. Three more Golden Dawn MPs, a leader in an Athens suburb and nine other party members have also been arrested. The arrests come amid anger over the murder on 18 September of anti-racist musician, Pavlos Fyssas. Golden Dawn has called on its supporters to rally outside the police headquarters in Athens and has vowed to fight back.

The killing of Pavlos Fyssas, 34 – whose stage name was Killah P – has sparked protests in Athens and across Greece.

George Roupakias, 45, who said he was a supporter of Golden Dawn, was arrested was arrested over the murder of Pavlos Fyssas. He was charged with voluntary manslaughter and illegal possession of a weapon.

The government launched a crackdown, including raids on Golden Dawn premises. Two senior police officials resigned for “personal reasons” after the killing and another two were suspended. Seven other police officers were suspended. Greek police also arrested one of their own colleagues who was reportedly working as a bodyguard for the party, during a raid on its offices in the western town of Agrinio on Tuesday.

The government also began an inquiry into the activities of Golden Dawn, which won nearly 7% of the vote in 2012 elections.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has vowed not to let the party “undermine” democracy, and government officials say it must now be treated as a “criminal organisation”. On Friday, Golden Dawn threatened to pull its 18 MPs out of the 300-strong Hellenic Parliament. The ensuing by-elections could threaten Mr Samaras’s fragile coalition, which has 155 seats.

In recent months, Golden Dawn has been accused of perpetrating attacks on migrants and political opponents – including an attack on Communist Party members earlier this month which is said to have left nine people in hospital.

Golden Dawn officially denies being a neo-Nazi movement, though its badge resembles a swastika, some senior members have praised Adolf Hitler, and its members wear black T-shirts and combat trousers at anti-immigrant demonstrations.

For the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24314319