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‘ONLY A FEW TREES’

dead and injured

TURKEY – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says ‘in a democracy decisions are made by voting at the time of elections. I and my party were elected with nearly %50 of the votes so we have a right to govern the country the way we like. If you have objections there is always a next election’. And this mentality is the core of issues.

Currently Turkey has an electorate of 46 million and 76 million people live in the country. In 2011 elections Tayyip Erdoğan/AKP got 21 million votes and the rest were shared by many different parties. This algorithm made AKP government, one of the most popular and powerful in the history of Turkish Republic. But what does popularity mean if leading party do not listen and understand the whole population? What does power mean if leading party do not use it for the common good of people? What will happen to us – the other 55 million – who did not vote for AKP? Do we all shut up and just live like nobodies with no opinions till the next elections? Governments and PMs might be popular but this does not mean that the citizens cannot criticize their policies/actions. More importantly power and popularity do not grant the right to oppress and physically harm people just because they are speaking up and expressing their disagreement.

In 2002, AKP and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the elections for the first time. Past 11 years their social policies weren’t about creating a more open, democratic and harmonious society. Instead they prioritised expanding their control and power. Day by day supporters of the government – wether qualified enough or not – were staffed in every administrative department. Changes were made in education system in order to create a youth more biased of government politics. By recruiting Erdoğan supporters, the police force turned into a private army. Government implemented ‘Special Heavy Penal Courts’. They started controlling prosecutors and the whole justice system. People’s phones were tapped without warrants and the recordings used against them as evidence. At the moment, if a prosecutor accuses someone of a ‘crime’ and requests, that person can be prisoned up to 7 years while the proceedings continue in court. Today, our jails are filled with intellects and journalists who are not sentenced. They are just accused of being criminals. Some of them might die imprisoned although they may not be guilty. Over the years, wealthy Edoğan supporters bought mainstream media organisations. Most of the media become government’s parrot. The rest of them are controlled with use of pressure and censorship. Today media is so manipulated that while hundreds of thousands of people marching against government the news channels broadcast nature documentaries.

So, after a decade of Erdoğan/AKP rule, there are more imprisoned journalists in Turkey than there are in China. There is almost no one left to cover any real news, ask any questions or criticise what is going on. People in Turkey from all walks of life are exposed to police violence and oppressive, authoritarian rule whenever they speak up. If a group of people raise their voice in criticism of the government, police attack them with high pressure water cannons, rubber bullets, pepper and tear gas. I still don’t know where they bought this much gas. It seems endless. We have a name for the PM for that reason. We call him ‘Chemical Tayyip’. With so much control, a weak opposition and lots of people left unaware of the truth, a seemingly democratic but in fact a totalitarian regime have been working perfectly for Tayyip Erdogan.

However, the situation changed on 31st of May 2013 at 5am when Tayyip’s ‘private police force’ did a dawn raid on peaceful ‘Gezi Park Protestors’. They sprayed pepper and tear gas everywhere while the protestors were sleeping, then they beat them, burnt their tents. And as poet Nazım Hikmet Ran said many moons ago, ‘one tree died, one nation woke up’.

People of Turkey were sick of being kicked around for nearly everything and anything they do. So, a small protest in a park of Istanbul became public resistance against abuse of state power, corruption and a ‘neo-fascistic dictatorship’. The protests spread all over Turkey and then around the world, in countries such as Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, etc…

I would not say that Turkish Republic politics were always innocent or clean before Tayyip Erdoğan and AKP. Like every country in the world, my country also had dysfunctional, corrupt governments before. However, Turkey was still a secular, democratic republic and never before we have experienced the type of violence, legitimised corruption, oppression and tyranny. (This statement does not include the periods of coup d’etat in Turkey)

During current demonstrations 7000 thousand people got injured, 35 people had a brain trauma, 12 people lost their eyes and 4 people died. Ethem Sarısülük, who was shot by a police officer in Ankara during the ‘Gezi Park Protests’ passed away on June 14. Police prevented Sarısülük’s lawyers to be present during the autopsy. However, constitution in Turkey grants the right for lawyers to be present in any post-mortem examination.

Footage of Ethem being shot

After all the sacrifice and struggle the court finally ruled out any further development of ‘Gezi Park’ but even then government tried to push for a referendum to decide what happens to the park. However, it is unlawful to run referendums against court decisions.

geziparkiyurutmeyidurdurmathe official court decision

Tayyip Erdoğan gathered his supporters in a rally yesterday (15.06.2013). His backers were provided free transportation, meals and drinks. These expenses were covered by the tax payer’s money. He made a segregationist and threatening speech about the protesters. One hour later police did another raid on ‘Gezi Park’. They attacked everyone regardless of their age and gender. A 5 year old boy got shot in the eye, a 16 year old in the head.

cocuk

Police also attacked medical facilities, infirmaries, etc. because they were hospitalising the injured protesters. Medics were also taken under custody. By these actions Turkish government did not only breach its own law but also the Geneva Conventions.

police raid on medical facilitiesities

doctors

When we use social media to spread the news and continue our resistance Tayyip Erdoğan claimed that the police were not harming anybody. He called us ‘liars’ and ‘fascists’ then had the audacity to say ‘we should hang them protesters on those trees’.

Here is Erdoğan’s speech which was televised live on public television in Turkey

Yes, we love trees. Yes, we love parks. But ‘Gezi Park Protests’ are not just because of a few trees being cut down and demolition of a public space. We are actually fighting for our basic rights and freedoms and our country’s future.

After all, this was never about ‘only a few trees’.

 

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A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.