Ongoing Struggles in Turkey – News of the Week


This week in Turkey. A collection of this weeks news of the ongoing struggles in Turkey. This weeks wrap-up includes: police attack on Grup Yorum fans, trade unions call for Taksim demo on May Day, armed conflict in Agri, hunger strike of 16yr old Sila Abalay, Serhat Savaş, documentary ‘Bakur’ censored in Istanbul Film Festival and Clashes in Gazi District.
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Police use tear gas and water cannons against protesters, as one of them shoots firecrackers at an armored police vehicle in Istanbul April 12, 2015. (Yagiz Karahan)

1) Annual Grup Yorum Concert Banned, Police Attack Fans

The annual Grup Yorum concert was banned by the Governorship of Istanbul just 4 days before the concert, marking it the first victim of a recently passed new ‘Internal Security Law’ providing appointed governors with judicial authorities. Grup Yorum responded to the ban in a press declaration stating that no matter what, the concert was to be held and called all their fans to be present at the square where the concert was supposed to take place, the same place it was held previous years having hundreds of thousands in attendance.

On the 12th of April, thousands flocked to the concert area unaware of the extraordinary measures taken by the security forces and were met with fierce police brutality. After ceaseless waves of police attacks, the dispersed crowds started dancing and singing in several side-streets which again were met with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas. At the end of the day including two members of Grup Yorum, tens of people were detained, several were injured.

2) Trade Unions Call for Taksim on May Day

In a joint press conference trade unions DISK, KESK, TMMOB and TTB made a call for May Day demonstrations at Taksim, right after the Governor of Istanbul publicly declared that the Taksim Square and the surrounding area will not be allowed for any demonstration.

The persistance of the trade unions, democratic and revolutionary organizations regarding their demand for May Day to be celebrated in the Taksim Square roots back to the 1st of May 1977 massacre which evidently committed by deep state organizations and counter-guerrilla forces, cost the lives of 34 people. On the 30th anniversary of the massacre, trade unions had once again called for Taksim, although met with unprecedented police brutality and state repression, resistance that went on for 3 consecutive years had cornered the government to open the square for demonstrations.

In May, 2013 the square was once again declared a no-demo zone, shortly before the Gezi uprising erupted in which protestors had occupied the square and the surrounding areas for 15 days. Since the Gezi Park and the Taksim square were evicted by security forces any demonstration or visible political activity is banned.

3) Armed Conflict in Agri and Its Aftermath

On Saturday, April 11th, the General Staff declared that in an armed conflict that broke out between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) prior to a tree-planting activity in Ağrı province’s Diyadin district, 5 members of the PKK had been killed, and one PKK member and four military personnel had been injured.

Dicle News Agency (DIHA) reported that Turkish soldiers opened fire on human shields who went to the area of clashes between HPG (People’s Defense Forces) guerrillas and Turkish army in Ağrı province of North Kurdistan today. Former co-chair of HDP Diyadin organisation Cezmi Budak lost his life and MEYA-DER representative Cenap İlboğa has been wounded as a result of the attack. Video footage from Tendürek Mountain while Turkish Military soldiers were being saved by Kurdish human shields whom ironically had been targeted by Turkish military. Source

4) 16 Year Old Sila Abalay Arrested, Currently on Hunger Strike

Following the attack near Istanbul Courthouse by DHKP-C fighters Safak Yayla and Bahtiyar Dogruyol which ended in with the killing of 2 fighters and the state prosecutor in Berkin Elvan’s case Mehmet Selim Kiraz, many houses had been raided and more than 200 people were detained.

Among them, a 16 year old female highschool student, who was arrested and put into solitary confinement in Bakirkoy Women Prison. Reportedly Sila Abalay (16) has since been on hunger strike. As her hunger strike enters the 12th day, demands for her release grow bigger outside everyday.

5) Youth wounded during Kobanê uprising dies

Serhat Savaş who was wounded by police during Kobanê demonstrations in Istanbul in October, has lost his life.

17 year old Savaş had been seriously wounded after a tear gas canister fired by police hit him in the head during 6-8 October’s demonstrations in solidarity with Kobanê in Gaziosmanpaşa district of Istanbul.

The body of the young boy, who was being held in intensive care unit of Taksim Emergency Hospital for seven months, has been sent to Forensic Medicine Institution in Yenibosna for post-mortem.

The youth will be laid to rest in his hometown, İyikomşu (Toraqa) village of Malazgirt district of Muş, following a funeral in Esenyurt district of Istanbul. source and more information

6) Guerilla Documentary ‘Bakur’ Censored in Istanbul Film Festival

‘Istanbul Foundation for Culture and the Arts (IKSV) cancelled the screening of A Guerilla Documentary Bakur/North four hours before the showing.’  source

7) Clashes in Gazi District

Gazi District has been besieged by police since Caglayan Courthouse incident. And on the night of 12th of April clashes took place between police and members of YDG-H protesting the massacre of Cezmi Budak (human shield killed by Turkish Military in Agri) and Serhat Savas (youth died 7 mounths after wounded by police in Kobanê demos).

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