Worrying times for Turkey – solidarity needed

Dr Derek Wall, International Co-ordinator of the Green Party of England and Wales has called for solidarity with the Turkish citizens protesting against the destruction of Gezi Park.
“We should applaud Turkish citizens who refused to see their green space turned into a shopping mall. We know that in the UK, we only have green spaces in London [and elsewhere] because of vigorous protest in the 19th century. Hampstead Heath, Plumstead common and many other public parks only exist today because of protest including both non violent direct action and legal challenges.The response of the authorities has been violently excessive and has lead to a much large wave of protest. Unrest has spread across Turkey and a general strike commences on Tuesday, 4th June. It is shocking that at least one protestor has been killed by the authorities.I am proud of the actions of our sister party in Turkey Yesiller ve Sol Gelecek Partisi (the Turkish Green and Left Party’ who have faced considerable repression in their effort to protect the environment and have worked hard to protect Gezi Park’Dr Wall echoed the calls of the European Green Party for a peace resolution to the protest http://europeangreens.eu/news/egp-advocates-right-turkish-citizens-protest-peacefully

‘We need to provide the Occupy Gezi protestors with practical solidarity, Green Party members and all those concerned with human rights and environmental protection, should support Turkey’s protest movement.’

‘It is important to listen to the voices of the protesters especially in the form of social media such as blogs and twitter’

The Turkish Green Party is active in the Gezi movement, “This is an uprising, a protest against the increasing bans,” said Michelle Demishevich, an activist and member of Turkey’s Green Party. “Perhaps just like we saw the Arab Spring, this will be the Turkish Spring”.

Dr Wall also noted the following description of the protest from a citizen in Istanbul,”A group of people most of whom did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Among them there were many of my friends and students. Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood! The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees. Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation. They did nothing other than standing in front of the machines. No newspaper, no television channel was there to report the protest. It was a complete media black out. But the police arrived with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray. They chased the crowds out of the park.”http://defnesumanblogs.com/2013/06/01/what-is-happenning-in-istanbul/

Dr Wall continued, ‘Sadly the death toll is mounting in Turkey and international pressure is needed to prevent more peaceful protesters from being killed.’

Footnote from Andy Chyba:
Having returned from Turkey yesterday morning, I can confirm that news was slow to emerge in the provinces and that there is growing disquiet amongst ordinary citizens about the growing repression being imposed by the right-wing ‘Justice and Development Party’ (AKP) government.
Fears, following the 2011 general election, that Premier Ergogan wants to ‘Putinise’ the country are beginning to gain strength.”Erdogan wants to implement a presidential system,” Gencer Ozcan, professor for international relations at Bilgi University told the Guardian in 2011 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/13/recep-erdogan-turkey-general-election. “This is the main goal of a new constitution. This is the first time that the prime minister handpicked all AKP candidates, assuring absolute loyalty within his own party.”
But the election result requires wider parliamentary consensus on a new constitution.This comes as good news to government critics who, concerned about Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian stance in an effort to remain in charge beyond 2015. The current constitution would be bar Erdogan from serving as prime minister again. (An issue we have been grappling with on an insignificant scale – in comparison – within Wales Green Party.)
I have left Turkey truly impressed with their willingness of ordinary people to work hard and go the extra mile in terms of customer service. Since my first visit to the country more than 30 years ago, they have taken huge strides in terms of their standards of living and education system, and they now boast a health service that truly shames and embarrasses the NHS. They have also embraced environmental issues in a way that also shames the UK.
Erdogan and the AKP can certainly take a lot of credit for this – they have been in power since 2002 afterall – but there is no comparison any more to the Erdogan that won elections in 2002 and 2005. His plans are seen are increasingly over-ambitious and fuelled by a bulging ego. Most ordinary Turks that I have spoken to simply want to consolidate what they have got and live in peace.
The events of the last few days represent worrying times indeed.

Barış Türkiye

Support this Amnesty International action: http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=6645049&aid=519905&msource=W1306EACPR1

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