Uprising in Turkey: an eyewitness account

Uprising in Turkey: an eyewitness account

The uprising in Turkey has surprised the world. Tens of thousands of people have risen against the authoritarian rule of Erdogan’s AKP and the islamization of the country. And all of this while economically the country is doing very well by capitalist standards for more than a decade. So in order to understand this complex situation, some questions have to be answered: What is the origin of this uprising? What are the various forces of which this uprising is composed of? What are the demands? How can this uprising turn into a movement which can defy the current regime?

Interviews with people in Gezi Park protesting against the government and police violence. Shown during this event.

We will begin answering these and questions with the help of the following speakers:

  • Emre Can Sarısayın (Turkish student/activist), just back from Istanbul will describe his experiences, and present a collection of video-interviews of protesters in Taksim Square.
  • Bektas Ugural (Doorbraak) – will speak about protests and international solidarity from Holland
  • Cihan Ugural – will speak about the role of the hooligans in the current social movements

These presentations will be followed by a discussion about the roots of these protests, its development and the prospects for the future.

An earlier impression from of the situation in Istanbul: Update from Turkey

Facebook event

Early June a group of protesters started guarding action after some trees were taken down illegally in the name of urban gentrification projects. In the second day of the protest, very early in the morning, the police attacked the protesters heavily with gas bombs, pressured water and plastic bullets and wounded many protesters. A spark began against this event of state terrorism and spread across the country turning into a massive action and organized the big revolt. The public organized against increasing attacks, state terrorism and police violence and have been turning the streets into the area of resistance. This public revolt has been streaming for 18 days now, beginning from the small gezi resistance against the cutting down of trees, and is constantly spreading.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have resisted in Taksim where the government blocked entrence and the police violence have peaked, finally occupied the Taksim Square building barricades around the square and took control of Taksim. Protesters in Ankara took it to the streets in solidarity with Istanbul and building barricades in important placed in the city, expanding the revolt. Hundreds of protesters in Izmir, another big city, burned the ruling party building.

Social solidarity and mutual support in protest and clash areas are very high. In every city where clashes are streaming, people have opened their homes to protesters and wounded persons. Many people have put first aid kits and food to their front yards for the protesters. Volunteer medical teams have self organized very well in protest areas have been helping instantly to wounded protesters. Volunteer lawyers are helping protesters in custody.

As clashes are continuing, the numbers of dead and wounded people are increasing. Mainstream media is still acting like nothing happened. The number of dead people is said to have reached 4, whereas 12 people have lost eyes and thousands are wounded. One protester in Istanbul was driver over by a car while blocking a street, another one had a stroke because of gas bombs, still another have been driver over by police panzer and all have lost their lives. A protester in Ankara has been shot in the head by the police fire, was brain dead for days, and eventually also died of his injuries.

While the action and clashes continue here, global solidarity is increasing. Anonymous hacked the sites of ruling party, Istanbul Police, Ankara Municipality and many other government agencies in solidarity. Anonymous have declared that they are going to continue cyber attacks against the terrorism that the Turkish State is continuing.

While millions of people are in the streets resisting the police attacks across the county, some parties in opposition are trying to take advantage of and manipulate the action and politization. Just like what we had seen in some regions during The Arab Spring, the opposing parties (especially Kemalists) are trying to assume the action as theirs. The opposing parties taking advantage of social politization, are trying to gain from the action hoping for taking power. However, they continue to fail badly. There are a lot of leftist organizations and groups working together in resistance, who are resisting to be owned by one leader or group. This really helps to hold legitimacy. The ongoing revolt has left both politicians and the state in a bad position. While the government is trying to manipulate the revolt by calling it a protest of “a group of radicals”, crisis is beginning in economy. The economic crisis have showed first signs in the stock market. However, this is one of the biggest massive action in the history of the country. The public is in the streets rising against the politics of oppression, suppression, terror and police violence that the state has been increasing steadily for a long time.

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