Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

June 19 2013

Russians See Themselves in Turkish Unrest

While Istanbul continues to be rocked by mass demonstrations [en] against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the RuNet has been actively observing and discussing the events. Turkey is a popular holiday destination with Russians, who are drawn there by its beaches, proximity, low prices and a visa-free travel agreement with Russia. Last year alone nearly 3 million Russians visited Turkey. While some interest in current events there can therefore be chalked up to concerns for non-refundable travel packages, Russia itself has been no stranger to street protests in the last two years. Many Russians were quick to draw parallels: both between the two protest movements and the two political leaders.

From the start, most Russian sympathies have tended to be with the protesters, a phenomenon the controversial writer and head of the Other Russia opposition group Eduard Limonov ascribed [ru] to the Russian national character:

Мы, российские граждане, всегда надеемся, что восставшие против своих правительств победят, всегда инстинктивно встаём на их сторону. Объясняется этот феномен крайне просто. Поскольку мы ненавидим своё правительство и всё руководство нашей страны, и хотим, чтобы оно оставило нас, как можно быстрее; мы солидаризируемся инстинктивно с любой борьбой против правительств.

We Russian citizens always hope that those rising up against their governments will win, instinctively flocking to their side. This phenomenon is quite easily explained. As we hate our government and all those who rule our country and want for them to leave us, the quicker the better, we instinctively express our solidarity with any struggle against the state.

"Unrest in Istanbul", June 11, 2013, Photo by  Eser Karadağ CC2.0

“Unrest in Istanbul”, June 11, 2013, Photo by Eser Karadağ CC2.0

Limonov, however, went on to explain that in Turkey's case the sympathy was not just a reflex. Noting the centrality of environmentalism to sparking the Taksim protests, Limonov wrote “the Turks appeared very similar to us, like Chirikova and her Khimki Forest [en].”

Limonov wasn't alone, as many Russians took to Twitter and LiveJournal to express their support of the protesters. Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist who blogged about the Istanbul protests from the ground, was highly critical [ru] of Erdoğan's response (he was later detained, beaten [ru] and deported from Turkey [en].)

По поводу переговорщиков (вчера одиннадцать человек ездили к Эрдогану на переговоры, насколько я понял, ни о чем не договорились, но это не точно) – не то, чтобы разброд и шатание, но разговоры уже начались. Очень грамотный ход со стороны Эрдогана. Разделяй и властвуй. Умно. У Путина учится.

As for the negotiators (yesterday [June 12, 2013] eleven people went to Erdoğan for negotiations, as far as I known they haven't reached any agreement, but that's not clear) — it's not so much confusion and disharmony [that they've caused], but people have already started to talk. An expert move on Erdoğan's part. Divide and rule. Clever. He's learning from Putin.

Comparisons of Erdoğan to Putin abounded, particularly on Twitter. Real_Estate_Mos [ru] tweeted:

Эрдоган – это такой турецкий Путин..

Erdoğan is a sort of Turkish Putin

Riffing on both leaders’ fondness for presenting themselves as public servants, sergeiolevskii [ru] tweeted:

Эрдоган: “я слуга народа”.
Путин: “я как раб на галерах”.
Чего же так сложно избавиться от этих слуг и рабов?

Erdoğan – “I'm a servant of the people”
Putin- “I work like a galley slave”
Why is it so hard to get rid of these servants and slaves?

Pro-Putin Russians were reticent to voice their support for Erdoğan, under whose premiership Russo-Turkish relations have soured, particularly over the issue of Syria. Nevertheless, Nikolai Starikov, a hard-line Putin supporter, writer, and conspirologist stated [ru] that the protests had been whipped up by the Americans in order to create disorder in Turkey and force the government to support Syrian opposition fighters, which Starikov alleges they have been trying to avoid:

Не хочет – нужно заставить. И вот «турецкая весна» на улицах. Погромы, драки с полицией, попытки штурма офисов правящей партии. И все из-за планов сноса одного парка, как говорят нам СМИ? Полная чушь. Цель беспорядков – заставить Турцию активно вписаться в сирийский конфликт и помочь исламистам.

[Turkey] doesn't want [to get involved] so they need to be compelled. And there you have it: “The Turkish Spring” is on the streets. Pogroms, clashes with police, attempts to storm the offices of the ruling party. And all from plans to demolish a single park, as the media says? Complete rubbish. The aim of the disturbances is to force Turkey to sign up for the Syrian conflict and help the Islamists.

In the past Starikov has repeatedly claimed the US State Department is behind Russia's opposition movement, as an active means of weakening the country.

Twitter user aliciamillor [ru] made an argument in a series of tweets [ru] that since Erdoğan had offered to hold a referendum on the park, he was better than some other western politicians:

Браво! Эрдоган предложил провести референдум. Того же самого требовали фр-зы по поводу гей браков. Олланд отказал в груб форме,собаками и газом. Вывод – Эрдоган больше демократ чем Олланд.

Bravo! Erdoğan has proposed holding a referendum. The French demanded the same thing for gay marriage. [French President] Hollande refused this very rudely, with dogs and [tear] gas. Consequently, Erdoğan is a bigger democrat than Hollande.

One Russophone group that did seem to mostly support Erdoğan were citizens of the Central Asian republics, most of whom are Turkic peoples, ethnically and linguistically related to the Turks of Anatolia. One user [ru, uz] in Uzbekistan (whose own president responded to popular protest in 2005 by massacring [en] hundreds of people) applauded Erdoğan [ru] for his relative restraint:

Эрдоган поступил правильно , предупредил , не отреагировали , и теперь выгнал всех нахрен !!! и вообще можно было без предупреждении

Erdoğan has acted correctly, he warned [the protesters], they didn't react, and now he's gotten them the hell out of there!!! and anyway, he didn't have to warn them

Another user, Eva_Alli [ru, kg] of Kyrgyzstan, whose country has also been plagued by unstable government, also praised [ru] Erdoğan's steadfastness.

Эрдоган красавчик. нам бы такого. знает, что делает, имеет свою точку зрения и ни перед кем не пасует. лев в мужском роде. одним словом.

Erdoğan is one cool dude. Would that we had someone like that. He knows what he's doing, has his own point of view and nothing gets past him. A sort of a lion, in a word.

Leonine Erdogan is anything but cowardly, according to some RuNet users. YouTube screenshot. June 18, 2013.

Leonine Erdogan is anything but cowardly, according to some RuNet users. YouTube screenshot. June 18, 2013.

Each of these groups of RuNet users perceives Turkey through the prism of their own domestic concerns: members of the opposition see an example to follow, while regime supporters see the disturbances as evidence of foreign meddling and western hypocrisy. Conversely, Central Asians seem to envy their Anatolian cousins for having a more moderate or more decisive leader than they do. While social media has clearly made it much easier for users to closely follow and discuss events thousands of kilometers away, their concerns suggest that for many, all politics is still local.

June 10 2013

VIDEO: Turkish Protests Filmed by the People, for the People

This post was written by Michelle McCloskey for WITNESS

As the #OccupyGezi protests have surged, Turkish mainstream media has foundered, failing to cover the anti-government demonstrations for fear of retribution. Citizen journalists–”sivil gazeteci,” in Turkish–have stepped up to fill the role so that the Turkish people and the world can see what's happening in the country.

Though a successful democracy by many standards, Turkey has more journalists in jail than any other country. Through financial penalties and legal intimidation, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have ensured that Turkish news networks either have a pro-AKP slant or censure themselves entirely. On the evening of June 1, 2013, while CNN Turk was showing a documentary on penguins, protesters gathered momentum throughout the country, even in pro-AKP Konya.





Turkey's English-language newspapers reflected a very different report than the Turkish versions. The Turkish people’s loss of faith in accurate reporting in Turkish media was bolstered by the reports shared on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Reddit, showing in real-time that people from all facets of Turkish society were taking a stand against the deterioration of their civil rights at the expense of increasingly pro-Islamist or neoliberal policies.

"Call for Citizen journalists" No media (like mainstream) We are all correspondents Save-Publish-Verify-Share

Call for Citizen journalists
No mainstream media
We are all correspondents
Save >> Publish
Verify >> Share
Let's make historical evidence
Knowledge is Power

By the fifth day of protests, Erdoğan went on national television, calling the protesters “arm-in-arm with terrorists” and telling the protesters, “If you bring 100,000, I’ll bring out a million”. In response, “Street Reports”, which appears to be a media/activist collective that interviews people on the street for their opinions on subjects from politics to culture, spoke with the protesters themselves, showing students, mothers, civil servants, the elderly, women in headscarves as well as women without, and even members from varying political parties and soccer clubs, all joined together in the protests.

Livestreams of the protests were made available online so that people could witness the brutality of the police shooting tear gas directly at protesters, into homes, as well as firing water cannons at close-range (Warning: Graphic video).

Citizen journalists are sharing these videos and photos in both English and Turkish in an effort to provide a more in-depth understanding of what is happening in Turkey right now, but more importantly, to allow citizens in Turkey to see what is occurring in their own country.

Here are some resources you can use to follow the movement:

Twitter Accounts

Facebook Groups


WITNESS Guide to Filming Protests [English]

Michelle McCloskey spent her formative childhood years in Istanbul and majored in Turkish Language and Literature; she is deeply committed to to the future and the culture of the country. She recently created Linguaphile, a nonprofit devoted to critical, endangered, dying, and diaspora languages [website under development].

June 07 2013

As Protests Continue, Turkey Cracks Down on Twitter Users

The critical role that social media and the Internet are playing in the anti-government protests engulfing Istanbul and other parts of the country has not gone unnoticed by Turkish authorities.

Only days after Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan labeled Twitter a “menace” and dismissed protesters filling the country’s streets as “looters”, police arrested dozens of people accused of publishing “misinformation” on Twitter to encourage others to join in the ongoing unrest.

It was not immediately clear which posts led to their detainment. But various news outlets indicated it might be for publishing a photo of a police officer attacking a young woman in the western city of Imzir, republished [fr] on the cover of Turkey’s Taraf newspaper on June 6.

Authorities released 33 Twitter users, some of whom are high school students, on June 6, 2013, but not before earning retaliation from hacktivist collectives Anonymous and the Syrian Electronic Army, who claimed that they hacked the websites of the prime minister and the Ministry of the Interior.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Istanbul on June 1, 2013 over plans to demolish Gezi Park and create a new shopping mall. Photo by Marooncomtr. Copyright Demotix.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Istanbul on June 1, 2013 over plans to demolish Gezi Park and create a new shopping mall. Photo by Marooncomtr. Copyright Demotix.

An unprecedented wave of protests has gripped Turkey for more than a week, earning a heavy-handed response from authorities who have combated demonstrators with water cannons, large amounts of tear gas, and violence. The movement grew out of resistance to the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul to build a mall, but quickly snowballed into demonstrations of the people’s discontent with the government’s policies.

Social media has become the mainstay for the protesters to spread the word and organize, report clashes with the police forces, and offer an alternative source of news to mainstream media which has treated the demonstrations with silence. According to a study released last week from New York University’s Social Media and Political Participation laboratory, Turks have sent an “extraordinary” number of tweets related to the uprising, with around 90 percent of the geolocated tweets coming from within Turkey and 50 percent from within Istanbul. Compare that with the 30 percent of tweets coming from within Egypt during the revolution in 2011.

Turks living outside of the country have also made use of social media. A trio of Turks living in New York have raised the 52,000 US dollars necessary to take out a full-page ad in The New York Times in support of the protesters using crowdfunding website Indiegogo.

As users descended on Twitter and Facebook to make use of the sites for organizing, it appeared access in Istanbul was throttled. The sites were not officially blocked, but loading times were significantly slower than usual, particularly for users seeking access through 3G networks. Fueled by fears that the government could tighten its grip on the Internet even more, downloads of VPN software are up by some 1,000 percent in Turkey.

Facebook users also have reported the website blocking a tool helping protesters to organize, though it’s not clear if the blocking is generated by an anti-spam filter or is also a targeted effort.

Protesters wearing 'Anonymous' masks in Istanbul on June 1, 2013. Photo by Marooncomtr. Copyright Demotix.

Protesters wearing ‘Anonymous’ masks in Istanbul on June 1, 2013. Photo by Marooncomtr. Copyright Demotix.

For those facing police violence, responsible for three dead and more than 4,000 injured, Twitter has become a place to cry out for help. Index on Censorship, an international organization that promotes freedom of expression, published a sample of tweets to illustrate this statement:

“We are choking. The tear gas incredible. Ambulance! Please help us!”

“My friend is dying. We are at …! Please help us!”

“We have anti-acid solution. Five litres. Where shall we come? RT Please!”

“We have 100 gas masks. Tell us where we should leave them? RT”

But the flurry of protest activity on Twitter hasn't been blameless, according to 140journos, an initiative run by a group university students. The group is trying to fact-check information on Twitter, such as rumors that police were using Vietnam War-era Agent Orange on protesters, telling Foreign Policy they've been working almost round the clock since the beginning of the protests:

There's no culture of management of social media content, and there won't be. After the first days of the protest, photos and videos started to repeat with false titles, locations, and dates. 140journos has made a difference by filtering and verifying information, with the aim of preventing disinformation and provocation.

Turkish hactivist network Redhack has advised Twitter users who find themselves the target of police to refuse the allegations, forcing the authorities to prove their claim. Alternatively:

Users can tell the police that our account was hacked by Redhack, we would take the blame with pleasure.

For those looking to get involved, Amnesty International recommends to spread the word and write to the Turkish government.

June 04 2013

Turkey: A Social Media Chronology of Occupy Gezi

This post originally appeared on the author's own blog, Azadolu.

On April 10, 2013 a hashtag on the Turkish twittersphere proclaimed #ayagakalk (which translates to “stand up”). The call came from a small group of activists trying to preserve the standing park, Gezi Park in Taksim Square, against plans to build a mall in the area. Nobody expected this little incident to turn into the biggest protest in the country’s republican history. In the words of Twitter user Ezgi Medran, who was trying to collect signatures on April 10 for the initial protest slated for April 13 [tr]:

@egedenizz Taksim Gezi Parkı'nı kurtarmak için, imzalarınızı bekliyoruz! #ayagakalk@ayagakalktaksim aracılığıyla

We are in need of your signatures in order to save Taksim Gezi park!

The protests started as a festival, held on April 13. Environmental activist Barış Gençer Baykan wrote:

@yesilgundem Taksim Gezi Parkı'na binlerce kişi sahip çıkıyor

Thousands are protecting the Taksim Gezi Park.

Thousands gather at Taksim's Gezi Park. Photograph shared on Twitter by @yesilgundem

Thousands gather at Taksim's Gezi Park. Photograph shared on Twitter by @yesilgundem

No clashes were recorded between security forces and protesters at that time. On May 27, another protest was held for the same purpose. This time, a few activists occupied Gezi Park to stand against the construction crew. Social media team 140journs shared a picture of the activists with these words:

@140journs Taksim Gezi Parkında dün gece başlatılan yıkım çalışmalarına karşın geceden itibaren nöbet tutuluyor.

There are patrols since last night at the Taksim Gezi Park despite the demolition works.

Protesters camping in Gezi Park. Photo credit: @140journos

Protesters camping in Gezi Park. Photo credit: @140journos

Things started to get out of hand after two incidents that went viral on social media. The first was a picture of an unarmed woman protester attacked by the police using tear gas, taken by Reuters photographer Osman Orsal. Later, in a dawn operation, the police burned down the activists’ tents. The incident was captured on YouTube.

The popular hashtag transformed into #direngeziparki (resist Gezi Park), which was followed by growing support for the protests. Memet Ali Alabora, a Turkish actor, was at the park and was one of the first of a few celebrities who actively joined the resistance. He said on his Twitter account:

@memetalialabora Mesele sadece Gezi Parkı değil arkadaş, sen hâlâ anlamadın mı? Hadi gel. #direngeziparkı

This is not only about Gezi Park, my friend, don't you get it yet? Come on, come here.

Police commenced attacks on protestors with tear gas and water cannons. The amount of the tear gas used was excessive. Onlookers reported that police targeted protestors’ bodies when shooting tear gas capsules. Twitter user Alper Orakci shared the amazing amount of the tear gas capsules on Istiklal Caddesi, the biggest street in Taksim Square:

@alperorakci Gaz bombasi kapsulleri!!!

Tear gas capsules!

Excessive amounts of tear gas was used to disperse the protesters. Photograph shared on Twitter by @alperorakci

Excessive amounts of tear gas was used to disperse the protesters. Photograph shared on Twitter by @alperorakci

Osman Orsal, the Reuters photographer who took the iconic photo of the protester woman in red, was injured by a tear gas capsule. Benjamin Harvey, bureau chief of Bloomberg Turkey, wrote:

@BenjaminHarvey Osman Orsal, photographer. This is a photo he took in Istanbul yday:  This is him today:

Osman Orsal injured by a tear gas capsule. Source:

Protesters organized on Facebook and Twitter, as the mainstream media was apparently ignoring the protests. There were reactions on social media against to mainstream media channels. Twitter user Faruk erman shared a picture that illustrated the silence of Turkish media:

@farukerman şu anda tv kanalları

Right now the TV channels.

TV channels during clashes. Source:

Benjamin Harvey was exasperated with CNN-Turk for showing a documentary about penguins during the clashes:

@BenjaminHarvey Seriously, CNN-Turk is airing a show on penguins.

The supporters of AKP (Justice and Development Party), the ruling party in Turkey, blamed the protesters for the clashes. They commented under the hashtag of #oyunagelmeturkiyem (“do not get tricked, Turkey”) on Twitter. Twitter user Canan Kumas wrote:

@Canan_Hasret Tayyip has done nothing but help the country grow over the past years and now they want him impeached over a park #oyunagelmetuerkiyem

Countering comparisons of Turkey with the Arab Spring, another user, Bunyamin Hakimoglu said:

@Benj_Kobsch Don't imagine a spring in Turkey. The government is elected with a democratic election. Be aware of the difference! #OyunaGelmeTürkiyem

On the other hand, there were some critics between some supporters, too. For example, AKP (Justice and Development Party) senator and ex-minister of culture and tourism, Ertugrul Gunay was angry about his party's fierce politics on protesters:

@ErtugrulGunayFethin yıldönümünde Istanbul'da AVM yapmak için 75yıllık ağaçları kesmeye kalkanlar, ne Fatih Sultan'ı anlamışlar, ne de Yaradan'ın emrini!

People who try to cut down 75-year-old trees on the anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul to build a mall cannot understand the Sultan Fatih nor God's order!

Even as the protests and clashes continue across the country, Prime Minister Erdogan does not seem willing to back down. He said on his own Twitter account:

@RT_ErdoganMuhalefetin 100 bin kişi topladığı yerde biz 1 milyon kişi toplarız ama bizim böyle bir derdimiz yok.

We can bring one million people together, where the opposition gathers a hundred thousand people around, but we are not into that kind of business.

June 02 2013

Istanbul Protests Through the Eyes of a Ukrainian Journalist

Turkey has long been a popular vacation and business travel destination for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, but few of these visitors can boast much knowledge of the Turkish politics. Now, however, as the anti-government protests and police brutality in Turkey are making top headlines globally, many Ukrainians have started to follow the situation there with much interest, expressing support and admiration for the peaceful protesters, noting similarities with the 2004 Orange Revolution as well as with more recent events in Ukraine, and wishing for the political awakening of the Ukrainian people.

Tear gas used by the police against the protesters in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by George Haddad, copyright © Demotix (01/06/13).

Tear gas used by the police against the protesters in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by George Haddad, copyright © Demotix (01/06/13).

On Facebook, one of the primary sources of updates, photos and insight from Istanbul has been Osman Pashayev [ru, uk, tr], a Ukrainian journalist of Crimean-Tatar descent, the Istanbul bureau chief of the Crimean Tatar ATR TV channel. As journalist Kristina Berdinskikh wrote [ru],

The best news agency of the past few days is Osman Pashayev.

And Facebook user Iryna Panchenko wrote this [uk]:

It's good that Osman Pashayev is in Istanbul – we have access to relevant information on the events there, without having to wait for international news [outlets to wake up] and for [Ukrainian news outlets] to copy – and, possibly, distort – [the reports of their international colleagues].

Below are some of Pashayev's recent posts [ru, uk, tr].

Friday, May 31, 20136:50 PM (Istanbul time):

I've seen the crackdown on [left-wing activists] during the 2009 IMF summit in Istanbul, I've seen rallies of the opposition in Tbilisi [the capital of Georgia], a crackdown on the Arab protestors in Jerusalem, an anti-terrorist operation in northern Iraq, but I've never seen such a savage treatment of peaceful protesters before. I cannot get to [Taksim Square] – 100 meters, gas that [irritates] the eyes is everywhere. I bought two lemons and poured [juice] over myself and one Turkish girl. Eyes are itchy from lemon, but at least it makes breathing easier after a couple minutes. Many here are 18-25 years old. The police are waging a war against citizens.

7:24 PM:

Our country – Ukraine – even under [the regime of President Viktor Yanukovych] is almost an exemplary democracy. Today's Turkey resembles Russia a lot more, though not yet Belarus [...].

Saturday, June 1, 201312:07 AM:

Do not pity Turkey. It is wonderful. And [PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] is like a virus in quantities sufficient for the immune system to finally start working. [...]

2:28 AM:

I'm teaching the Turks some of the rules of the Orange Revolution – to chant “Police are with the people” [one of the popular slogans in Ukraine in 2004]. A few more resignations by police officers and the generals will stop giving antihuman orders.

4:02 AM:

First aid points to the injured on [Istiklal Avenue]. Hotels are letting the protesters inside, shop owners are giving out water for free and administering first aid. Cab drivers are transporting those with serious injuries for free. It resembles the unity in Kyiv [during the 2004 Orange Revolution].

4:52 AM:

A heartrending tweet [Pashayev's quick translation into Russian; the Turkish-language original, by Aykut Gürlemez/@aykutgurlemez, is here]. “Dear Prime Minister, you have no idea how grateful I am to you today. You have no idea what a good deed you've done for the country today. Today, for the first time, I've seen a fan of [Istanbul's Fenerbahçe football club] was helping a [rival Galatasaray] fan to get up from the ground after the police order “to kill” came about. Today, Turks and Kurds were sharing water and bread. Today, women you call prostitutes, walked out of the brothels to wash the wounds of the injured in their cheap hotel rooms in [Tarlabaşı]. Lawyers and medical doctors were distributing their phone numbers, offering help. Today, [stores and coffee houses located on ground floors] turned off their Wifi passwards, and hotel owners were letting the tired and the beaten ones in. Today, our eyes are filled with tears not because of your pepper gas, but because of our pride for our Turkey.” [...]

5:27 AM:

In Turkey, 7.5 million users are watching the #TürkiyemDireniyor hashtag (“my Turkey resists”). Will Erdoğan have the guts to arrest them all? )))

5:51 AM:

[Fans of football clubs Beşiktaş], Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray. In the Ukrainian translation this will be “East and West together” [another popular slogan of the 2004 protests in Ukraine, referring to the political and cultural divide between eastern and western parts of Ukraine].

10:05 AM:

With great pleasure I've blocked everyone on Facebook who are being ironic about the violence taking place in Turkey. [...] A whole bunch of wisecracks who point out that I've just arrived here and don't understand something ))). Maybe I don't understand anything at all, but I do understand that violence against peaceful people is evil. And I've seen it with my own eyes. I've worked [as a TV journalist] in Turkey dozens of times since 2002, and for the first time now I've seen police officers lowering their gaze, ashamed. If cops are feeling ashamed, it means they are indeed doing something that's not very good.

8:20 PM:

The most amusing pictures are of Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray holding hands. Hard for us to understand, but it's almost as if [Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the far-right Ukrainian VO Svoboda party] showed up at a gay pride parade wearing [a Jewish kippah cap].

Sunday, June 2, 20134:21 AM:

No more than 2,000 people remain at Taksim. Everyone is moving to [the Beşiktaş area], where clashes with police continue. The [Turkish] opposition is toothless and not interesting. Young people and non-political groups are much brighter. [photos]

8:30 PM:

If Erdoğan and other officials are being sincere, if they are telling the world that the protesters are part of a junta, the military's fans and other marginal scum, then why are the city's web cameras are turned off only at Taksim, while the rest are working? Let the Turks and the world see for themselves the faces of the protesters, their numbers, and their eyes. The real pictures says much more than a thousand words ))))

Pashayev continues posting his update on Facebook and filing his stories on the protests in Turkey for Ukrainian TV channels. Another Ukrainian journalist, Mustafa Nayyem [ru], has now joined him in Istanbul and is also posting reports and photos on his Facebook page.

Roman Shrike, the founder of a popular Ukrainian website, wrote this [ru] on his Ukrainska Pravda blog, linking to one of Pashayev's posts and re-posting some of the photos of the Istanbul protest:

A good revolution always begins suddenly.

In Istanbul, the police violently cracked down on the defenders of a parl. No big deal, you'd think… But the last straw usually happens to be nothing but a very tiny straw. [...]

Ukrainian politician and former journalist Volodymyr Ariev re-posted the photo of thousands of Istanbul residents crossing the Bosphorus Bridge early on Saturday on their way to Taksim, and wrote [uk]:

This is how people should defend their rights and freedoms from infringements of transitory authoritarian rulers. Way to go, Turkey!

Ukrainian activist Oleksandr Danylyuk wrote [uk]:

What do the events in Istanbul tell us? That it's enough for the Kyiv residents to drag their behinds off their couches for just a few days, and Yanukovych & Co. will come to them on their knees, bringing a capitulation document signed with their snot. But the majority [of Ukrainians] keep crying as they keep getting stung by this cactus they keep eating.

June 01 2013

Turkey: “A Tree Dies, A Nation Rises”

The situation in Istanbul turned violent when police cracked down on peaceful protesters on Friday, May 31. The peaceful sit-in started five days ago where several tens of people gathered to oppose plans by the government urban reorganization of Istanbul's only green spot: the Gezi Park. The brutality used by police forces — teargas, water cannons, fists and batons — to expel protesters from the park generated a broad outcry, as images of people including children and that elderly sheltering themselves from teargas started flooding social networks.

On Saturday morning, thousands started converging to the nearby Taksim Square in support. Reports of large gatherings in support in other Turkish cities such as the capital city of Ankara, and in Izmir followed. What started as a peaceful sit-in to protect a park from being turned into a mall evolved into a broad protest demanding Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to step down, as Zeynep Dagli wrote earlier:

What started out as civilians opposing the building of a shopping centre in one of our few remaining green corners, has turned into a strong voice against a government who is unable to listen to its citizens. Erdogan said “I have decided and that's that” which is what escalated the pressure that has been hiding in everyone all along. Police has been spraying tear gas for hours non-stop against its own citizens who are offering food to the sleepless police in return. What is even more interesting is that a young generation who deemed to be apoliticial are one voice one strength, sunnis, shias, armenians, leftists, nationalists, jews are all one voice against a government who turned deaf. The youth is one voice since they never really felt that they were different.

While more and more people were gathering in Gezi Park and nearby Taksim Square, countless calls for attention from international mainstream media were sent through social media as local coverage was suppressed. Zeynep Dagli continues:

We get ZERO coverage locally. Facebook and twitter are our only source. Even that is being blocked by jammers around the square. Local media is suppressed by the government.
They have stopped broadcasting CNN, AlJazeera, BBC on the local digital cable.

This massive state-supported suppression has already been discussed just a few days ago by Human Rights Watch (HRW) Emma Sinclair-Webb:

One of Turkey’s most fundamental human rights problems is in fact intolerance of free speech. Politicians regularly sue journalists for defamation.  Editors and publishers are mostly unwilling to permit much criticism of the government for fear of harming their bosses’ other business interests.

Juan Cole continues along the same line:

Turkey’s political tradition has never been particularly tolerant of dissent, and unfortunately the AKP [Turkey's ruling majority] is continuing in a tradition of crackdowns on political speech it doesn’t like. Reporters without Borders ranks the country 154 for press freedom, and it has 76 journalists in jail, and “at least 61 of those were imprisoned as a direct result of their work.” Observers are astonished to find that Saturday morning’s newspapers in Turkey are virtually silent about the protests. Editors have clearly been intimidated into keeping quiet about these events.

Is it “just” for the trees?

Although Erdogan's government enjoys quite popular support, its plans for urban reorganization have become a major stumbling block. A very recent example is the inauguration on May 29, 2013, by PM Erdogan himself of a third bridge across the Bosphorus Strait. The bridge will require between 350,000 and 2,000,000 trees (different sources give different numbers) to be uprooted. During the inauguration, Erdogan referred to the occupation of Gezi Park: “It does not matter what you [the protesters] do. We made a decision… We will follow through with that decision.” This was perceived by many as a sign of despotism and nepotism as the privatization — for “renewal” — of Gezi Park is orchestrated by Erdogan's son-in-law.

A widely circulated image on social networks thus sums up the general feeling among protesters:


Image circulated on social network starts with “This is not about a park” and ends with “This is about democracy”.

“Everywhere is Taksim, Resistance Everywhere.”

The situation has been extremely hectic since the early morning of Saturday, June 1. Brutal repression did not prevent people from all political and social backgrounds to continue gathering in Taksim Square and elsewhere in Istanbul and Turkey:

myriamonde: protestors are ridiculously diverse right now. ranging from ultra nationalist turks to kurds, extremely apolitical ppl, football fans…fun!

@stevenacook: This isnt just IST [Istanbul]. Calls for protests in Adana, Izmir, Ankara, Eskisehir, Anatalya, Izmit, Bursa, Fethiye, Samsun, Yozgat, etc #Turkey

TCilterkaan28: The solidarity of the Turkish Nation Turkey News Taksim Doctors also for the public squares? #occupyturkey

sciencewitch: People are writing blood types on their arms in case if emergency #occupygezi #direngeziparkı (via @beyinbilir )

A widely circulated image shows the actor playing Suleyman the Magnificent taking to the streets on June 1, 2013.

A widely circulated image shows the actor playing Suleyman the Magnificent taking to the streets on June 1, 2013.

Shortly before noon, PM Erdogan addressed the nation saying that “Turkey is well-functioning parliamentary democracy”, naming ongoing turmoil “serious provocations” and firmly condemning protests as “anti-democratic”:

@MahirZeynalov: Turkish PM Erdogan: All attempts besides elections are anti-democratic, illegitimate. #occupyturkey

@MahirZeynalov: Turkish PM Erdogan: Those who have problems with the government, they can deal with us in the ballot box. #occupyturkey

The speech was met with anger and irony online:

@YesimKitchen: @MahirZeynalov no LOL for this???

@ianbrealey: @MahirZeynalov Oh dear. He doesnt get it does he. For a peceful transition in a democracy he should incorporate opposition into policy.

@fhenriques: @MahirZeynalov So, he believes in a dictatorship of the majority instead of a democracy that represents everyone

@MaliciaRogue: Turkish Prime Minister's understanding of democracy is like Olympics: a 1-day election event organized every 4 years #occupygezi #Taksim

Unconfirmed reports of the use of agent orange, a chemical weapon used during the Vietnam War, emerged during the day, and were later denied. In addition, there were unconfirmed reports about the government blocking or being about to block internet and GSM communications within the country. Various sources reported 3G connection within Taksim Square seems to be misfunctional, which was later attributed to congestion rather than state-supported targeted blackout. Activists from Telecomix also denied internet blocking. Solidarity organizes despite communication breakdown:

@Bcdmir: #occupygezi I saw doctors, medical students, pharmacists sharing their mobile to help wounded people

@sciencewitch: Taxis carry people to Taksim without charge. Pharmacies hand out free masks. This is government against its own people. #occupygezi

To follow the ongoing events, check out hashtags #occupygezi, #Taksim, #OccupyTaksim, #OccupyTurkey, #Turkey on Twitter. The #OccupyGezi Tumblr is regularly updated with images, and Turkish Indymedia has set up a collaborative multilingual update of events. Meanwhile, a petition was launched calling for PM Erdogan to order the end of police brutality on Avaaz.

May 18 2013

Turkey: Syrian Refugees Targeted after Reyhanlı Blasts

On May 11th, Reyhanlı [en] small Turkish town on Turkey-Syria border, was under terrorist attacks. This was the biggest terrorist attack [en] in country's 90 year-old republican history. After the explosions nine people were detained [en] by the security forces. Officials said [en], two vehicles were used in the bombings and more than 50 people were killed and at least 100 people were injured. But on social media, there were rumors that the real number of the victims is more than 100.

Twitter user shiny (@Idauk) tweets [Tr]:

@Idauk Simdi Antakya'dan arkadasimla konustum.Olu sayisi 100′un uzerinde diyor.Reyhanli'da fiili sokaga cikma yasagi varmis.Hastahaneler perisan.

I just talked with a friend from Antakya. As my friend said, the number of the people were killed is over 100. Also, there is a curfew. Hospitals are all miserable.

Just after the explosions, the Turkish government issued a media ban [en] on the Reyhanlı blasts. This ban received a big reaction on social media. Twitter user denizatam (@denizatam) writes:

@denizatam AKP çareyi buldu, Reyhanlı için yayın yasağı başladı! Ana akım medya yetmedi yerel basını sustur şimdi. …

AKP (Justice and Development Party) found the solution. A media ban was initiated for the Reyhanli Blasts! Mainstream was not enough, now it is the time to silence local media.

Journalists protested [en] the media ban. On Türkmax, the media ban was protested in a more sarcastic way, on their comedy show “Heberler”. In the video, the anchorman is opening the program with Reyhanlı blasts. Due to media ban, he remains speechless. Here is the video [tr]:

A picture at on the blast media ban

A picture at on the blast media ban

A Turkish viral graphics and design website,, published a picture about media ban. User brewolve prepared a graphic about the Turkish media's reaction on Reyhanlı blasts, since the media was just following their normal program line and not mentioning Reyhanlı blasts. Graphic can be seen here.

Although the media ban was lifted by Turkish courts, on May 16, a video on YouTube claims that the ban has fulfilled its purpose. In the video [tr], a journalist interviews several people on the street asking them “what do you think about Reyhanlı?”. The answers are shocking; only one person recognized the blasts, and a few remembered where the town was, and rest had no idea where it was or what happened in Reyhanlı, even though the video was recorded only five days after the blasts. Here is the video:

There are also reports [tr] on racist attacks on Syrian refugees. Since the Syrian civil war, Syrian refugees and militants fled to Antakya [en], a Turkish city on Syrian-Turkey border, and Reyhanlı, a town of the same city. Since the refugees and militants moved [en] into Antakya, the tension between the locals and Syrians has been high. In the report it says:

“Suriyelilerin yaşadığı binalara topluca gidilmiş birçok ev yakılmaya çalışılmış, ele geçirilen kişiler darp edilmişlerdir. Aşırı milliyetçi/ulusalcı eğilimlere sahip partilere mensup fanatiklerinden olduğu söylenen ve her geçen gün sayıları artmakta olan bu gurup, yaşanan gelişmelerden Suriyelileri sorumlu tutmakta, Reyhanlı ilçe merkezinde devriye gezerek sıklıkla yol kesmekte, Suriyeli veya Suriye vatandaşı olduğunu zannettikleri kişileri linç etmeye çalışmaktadırlar”

A group of people went to the buildings that Syrians are living in, they beat the people they caught. As said, these people are the members of ultra nationalist parties and they increasing in numbers, they blame Syrians for the blasts, and they patrol the Reyhanli city center, where they are attacking Syrians or people who look like Syrian citizens.

Turks on social media gave mixed reactions on the attacks on Syrians in Reyhanli.

Twitter user T.C. Zehra Aydogan (@TurkKizi1919) is angry at Syrians in Antakya:

 @TurkKizi1919 Turkiye'ye yerlestirilmeye calistiklari Suriyeli Multeci dedikleri terorsitlerdir.

The so called Syrian refugees that they want to settle in Turkey are, actually terrorists.

Another user, T.C.Devrim #ATATÜRK (@saadet_karakus), is angry at government for helping the refugees instead of the locals:

@saadet_karakus Suriyeli multeci icin milyar dolar harcayanlar,Reyhanlı esnafının vergi, sigorta borçlarını 1 yıl erteliyor.Silsene o borcu buyuk devlet!

The ones, who spend billions of dollars for Syrian refugees, are delaying Reyhanli store owners’ debts for one year. Write off those debts, you big government!

Twitter user Sami Pelitli (@SamiPelitli) says:

@SamiPelitli Reyhanli'da patlayan bomba yuzunden multecileri suclamak, onlara saldirmak nasil bir vicdansizliktir? Bir de irkci degiliz dersiniz.

What kind of remorselessness it is, to blame refugees for the blasts in Reyhanli, and to attack them? And you also say we are not racist.

Journalist Hayko Bağdat (@haykobagdat) tweets:

@haykobagdat ÖSO, cemaat, AKP'li filanlı olmaktan değil, tehcirin ne olduğunu bildiğimden Suriyeli mültecilere toz kondurmuyorum ben.

I am defending Syrian refugees, because I know the meaning of emigration, not because I am fan of FSA (Free Syrian Army), AKP (Justice and development Party), or congregation.

After the death of tens of people and a border town with tens of buildings collapsed [en], life still continues in Reyhanlı. Twitter user Bünyamin Salmanyan (@bunyms) remembers Mustafa Ayaz [tr], who was killed by the blasts in Reyhanlı:

@bunyms Reyhanlı'daki saldırıda hayatını kaybeden 25 yaşındaki Mustafa Ayaz'ın eşi bugün doğum yapmış, adını Mustafa koymuşlar..

Mustafa Ayaz, 25, was killed by the blasts; his wife gave a birth to his son today, and they named him Mustafa…

May 03 2013

VIDEO: Turkish Police Crack Down on May Day Protesters

Violent clashes between Turkish police and May Day protesters in Istanbul left 25 civilians and 22 police officers injured [tr], including one man who reportedly lost an eye due to a teargas canister and another 17-year-old girl with head injuries who was left in a coma for a short time.

Thousands of people made their way on May 1, 2013 to the city's main Taksim Square, a symbolic location where gunmen opened fire on the crowds there during the May 1 protests in 1977, killing as many as 42 people. This year, the government banned any protests or celebration for International Workers’ Day in the square, citing safety concerns due to construction near the area.

Police shot water cannons and teargas to disperse protesters, who fought back with rocks and Molotov cocktails in some cases. Seventy-two protesters were detained.

The response has been criticized as heavy-handed and harsh. Turkey's main opposition party leader Gürsel Tekin told reporters that police shot teargas into houses, hospitals, and even into an ambulance.

Hürriyet, a Turkish newspaper, published a video [tr] of police aggression toward protesters on its website:

Government officials [tr], however, accused protesters of being members of fringe groups, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, forcing them to shoot teargas in response. Hurriyet [tr], a Turkish newspaper shared a video of some protesters attacking police forces on its website doing just that:

According the, opinion on the protesters were divided, with some people not approving of the vandalism against the police, and even some yelling at protesters to “get out, you are not welcome here”.

On Twitter, user Murathan Ceylan (@MurathanCyln) was angry at the protesters:

@MurathanCyln Sizin amaciniz 1 Mayis ı mi kutlamak yoksa polise tas ve molotof atip dukkanlari yakip yikmak mi ?!

Is your purpose celebrating May 1st or throwing rocks and Molotovs at police and stores?

Journalist Serdar Arseven (@sarseven) took the criticism one step forward:

@sarseven Vay namussuzlar, can güvenliklerini sağlayan polisin canına kast ettiler!.. Vatan hainleri!..

You dishonorable people. They tried to kill the police who are trying the protect them! Traitors!

Dilan Alp [tr], a 17-year-old protester, was hit by a teargas canister and fell into a coma. She is awake now and her medical situation is improving.

Although the police department [en] said in statement that she fell down from stairs, and the governor of Istanbul, Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, called Alp a militant and member of a “marginal” group, the video of the incident tells a different story. Here is the video [tr] of that moment:

Reactions were high on social media over her injuries.

Twitter user Berxwedan Yaruk (@BerxwedanYARUK) criticized the incident ironically:

@BerxwedanYARUK Lise öğrencisi Dilan Alp başından gaz bombası ile vurulmuş.Gerçi işçi değil o değil mi? Taksim'e de gitmek istemiş. Öldürülmesi çok normal.

Dilan Alp, a high school student, was hit by teargas. Well, she is not a worker, is she? She also wanted to go to Taksim, too. So it is normal to kill her.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) congresswoman Sebahat Tuncel (@tuncelsebahat) visited Alp in the hospital. She mentioned that the girl's father is a former employee of Hey Textile, a large textile company that went bankrupt this year and whose former workers went on a strike [tr]:

@tuncelsebahat Gaz bombasiyla yaralanan Dilan'in kafa tasında ve çenesinde çoklu kırık var.Babasi hey tekstil direnişçisi.Babasi ile bayram kutlamaya gelmş

There are broken bones on Dilan's head and chin, caused by a teargas that hit her on head. His father is a Hey Textile worker. She came to celebrate the Workers’ Day with his father.

Twitter user Hukukcu Themisler (@themisler) accused the government of caring more for the protection of the construction project at Taksim Square than the protection of its own people:

@themisler 40 bin polis ile Taksim'deki inşaat alanını koruyan devlet, işçi-emekçi insanlara copla gazla müdahalede bulundu:Dilan ALP ağır yaralandı..!

Government, with its 40,000 police, kept the construction area in Taksim Square safe, while attacking workers with teargas and nightsticks; Dilan Alp heavily injured.

But to combat the reactions against the police action, the governor publicized photos of Dilan Alp [tr] allegedly holding a molotov cocktail in her hand. He claimed that she was not innocent, and she was injured while attacking police forces.

Alp was not the only one who was injured. Protesters Meral Dönmez, Zafer Yolcu, İbrahim Akal, and Serdal Gül [tr] were all seriously injured and are hospitalized.

Yolcu was hit on the head by a teargas canister, which fractured his scalp, according to reports. Akal lost one of his eyes and is in danger of losing the other, according to his brother Umut Akal's statement [tr].

Twitter user Ali Fırat (@partizan72_) shared a picture of Yolcu in the hospital:

@partizan72_ AKP hükümetinin taksim yasaklaması İstanbul emekçileri yıldırmadı. ZAFER YOLCU

Ruling party Justice and Development Party's ban could not stop the workers of Istanbul. ZAFER YOLCU

Another user, Esra Aksu Gök (@ESRAAKSU12), expressed his anger over Akal's injury:

@ESRAAKSU12 Bunun bedeli ödenebilir mi? 1 Mayısta yaralanan İbrahim Akal gözünü kaybetti … @radikal aracılığıyla

Can there be any price for this? İbrahim Akal injured on May 1 and lost his eye.

Lawyer Efkan Bolaç (@efkanbolac) criticized the government forces sarcastically for attacking Akal:

@efkanbolac Gerçekten teşekkürü hakkediyorlar! İbrahim Akal atılan bombalar sebebiyle bir gözünü kaybetti. Hastane çıkışı ölmedim diye teşekküre gidecek

@efkanbolac They really deserve to receive thanks! İbrahim Akal lost one of his eyes because of the teargas. He is going to thank them when he is out of the hospital!

Twitter user, Dilan Alatas (@DilanAlatas), mentioned Gül while slamming criticism of Alp, the 17-year-old protester, for being at the protests even though she is not a worker:

@DilanAlatas Dilan Alp'ten sonra,metal işçisi Serdal Gul kafasından aldığı darbe sonucu ameliyata alınmış.Yine de ‘ee işçi değilmiş yea’ diyecek misiniz?

@DilanAlatas After Dilan Alp, worker Serdal Gül went into surgery. Will you still say “so, he was not a worker”?

Twitter user, Astrig Daghlian (@Keghetsi), mentioned Gül, too:

@Keghetsi Serdal Gul de komada, ailesi ‘Çocuğumuza hedef alınarak ateş açılmış başından yaralanmış’

Serdal Gül in a coma too, his family said: “Our child shot by targeted on purpose and got injured from his head”

May 02 2013

Teargas and Water Cannons for Istanbul's Labor Day Protesters

Teargas enveloped Istanbul as demonstrators defiantly merged onto the city's symbolic Taksim Square, where they hold May Day protests every year. The government banned all events there this year, because the square is under construction.

As protesters and police clashed they turned the 15 million strong metropolis into a war zone, leaving behind destroyed property and reportedly dozens of injured people. To get a grip on the increasing number of protesters, Turkey's police fortified their ranks with four planes full of officers transfered [tr] from other cities.

Among the injured were four journalists and a teenage high school student who suffered head injuries [tr]. and is in critical condition at the  hospital. Opposition politicians affected from gas and police brutality were also hospitalized [tr].

Istanbul demostrators under teargas on Labor Day celebrations

Istanbul demostrators under teargas during Labor Day celebrations. Photo by Burak Kara. Used with permission.

Taksim Square, the usual venue for Istanbul's Labor Day demonstrations has been under construction for months, to help relieve the bottleneck of traffic that develops around it. City authorities and the unions who insisted on celebrating the day at Taksim, had been in negotiations to find alternative venues, but that talks failed on April 30, 2013. The city administration immediately issued an order to cancel all public transportation between the Asian and European sides of Istanbul that lead to Taksim Square. Later, during a press conference, Istanbul Governor Mutlu banned all events at Taksim on May 1st.

Journalist Ayla Jean Yackley (@aylajean) provided insights as to the political importance of Taksim Square for both the government and other groups:

@aylajean: Taksim project seen as PM Erdogan's pet project. Square has immense political, cultural significance for many factions in Turkey

The lack of public transportation in a city of 15 million brought civic life to a screeching halt on May 1. Workers Unions, non governmental organizations and opposition political parties had a different plan. Thousands merged in the Besiktas, Sisli and Mecidiyekoy neighborhoods, surrounding Taksim from all sides, commuting through their own private or collective means. As the sun dawned on Istanbul, the fight first broke out in Besiktas:

Labor Day rally teargassed in Istanbul, May 1, 2013. Photo tweeted by Deniz Atam, used by permission

Labor Day rally teargassed in Besiktas, Istanbul, on May 1, 2013. Photo tweeted by Deniz Atam. Used by permission

@aslitunc: İstanbul is under police siege today, Public transport banned, roads blocked, pepper spray used extensively, police attacks demonstrators.

Raising the bridge between the historical peninsula and central Taksim was another method to prevent workers to reach their destination:

Galata Bridge raised to stop protesting workers. Photo by Dilek Zaptçıoğlu on Twitter, used by permission

Galata Bridge raised to stop protesting workers. Photo by Dilek Zaptçıoğlu on Twitter, used by permission

While different groups tried to march towards Taksim, police in small and large groups attacked protesters on main and back streets with water cannons and teargas canisters. Within two hours, the European side of the city had turned into a war zone. Ambulances and tourists were reportedly targeted with teargas by police:

@oemoral: Tweeps reporting fr side streets of #Besiktas tweet it's like a war zone.Stores,people in shambles due to gas & water guns #MayDay #Istanbul

@ErdiErge: Police in Besiktas throws gas bombs on ambulances several wounded in #istanbul #laborday #Turkey

@CeylanWrites: Even tourists have had tear gas fired at them! Radikal reports#istanbul #1mayis

@Ziya Meral: Best sarcastic tweet to emerge from Istanbul today thus far: “Yesterday we had the Jazz Festival, today is the Gas Festival”

Even some mainstream media complained about police brutality. Otherwise, the press was very reluctant to report on the terrible events of this day in Istanbul. News organizations close to the government used a picture [tr] of a demonstrator throwing a petrol bomb to propagate the official thesis that Labor day's protesters were “radicals.”

On Twitter, some compared Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's tactics to those of former dictators in the Middle East:

@erdierge: Police violence in #istanbul is worse than #ArabSpring Mubarak's police was better than #turkey‘s Erdogan #laborday #1mayis

Teargas canisters also caused damage to private property:

Damage caused by teargas canisters to homes. Photo tweeted by @farkindayimm, used by permission.

Damage caused by teargas canisters to homes. Photo tweeted by @farkindayimm, used by permission.

Demonstrators finally dispersed after the Workers Union Confederation leader negotiated an armistice with the police:

Protesters teargassed in Besiktas. Photo tweeted by @13melek, used by permission

Protesters teargassed in Besiktas. Photo tweeted by @13melek, used by permission

The International Trade Union Confederation was quick to condemn police brutality in Istanbul.

After a day of brutality leading to injuries, and irresponsible and sometimes outright outrageous comments by government officials [tr] and journalists [tr] alike, all went home for an evening of Turkish TV series and business as usual.

March 20 2013

Hackers Publish Turkish Mayor's Phone Number in Tit-for-Tat Cyber Attack

A group of Turkish hackers who call themselves Redhack have published the cell phone numbers of Melih Gökçek, the mayor of Turkey's capital city Ankara, and his security guard on Twitter in retaliation against the mayor for publicizing the cell phone number of Ayşegül Avcı. In March 2012 [tr], the mayor publicized the phone number of Avci, a college student, on his Twitter account by mentioning that she insulted him on the microblogging platform.

On February 26, 2013, Redhack published Melih Gökçek cell phone number, along with a series of communications between Gökçek and President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges in Turkey Faik Yavuz that seemed to prove their participation in corrupt dealings.

Redhack made a name for themselves in March 2012 when they hacked the Ankara police web servers, known as the Ankara Directory of Security and POLNET, and published the index on the Internet. Since then, they have hacked several government websites and servers, including the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Turkish Armed Forces, the Presidency of Religious Affairs, and the Council of Higher Education.

501-260 (1)

Picture is taken from RedHack official page.

The group was deemed an armed terrorist organization in October 2012 by a Turkish court, and government officials in December 2013 decided to build an anti-hacker team of 150 people just to stop Redhack's cyber attacks. But the move did not seem likely to stop them, and they hacked the Council of Higher Education servers and published documents alleging corruption in January 2013.

After Redhack published the mayor's cell phone number on Twitter, the man responded in a sharply worded tweet to the group, touching off a lengthy back-and-forth between the two.

The exchange began when Redhack announced Gökçek's phone number:

@TheRedHack: Kadinlarin telefonlarini yayinlayan ve RedHack'i 1 ay'da yakalatacagini soyleyen Melih Gokcek cevap vermiyor. Cepten arasak mi=> 05323184151

@TheRedHack: Melih Gökçek, who announced the phone numbers of women and said that he would get us arrested, is not answering us. Should we call his cell phone number: 05323184151

Redhack also published the letters that Faik Yavuz wrote to the several people, including the mayor Gökçek and the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In these letters, he was asking for favors to get jobs for his friends and relatives. Also in one of his letters to the Mayor, he was asking for some information about a land that he owns, and mentioned how it would be more valuable if the building permit would change. In his letters to Erdoğan, he denied the allegations of the Eid al-Adha (festival of sacrifice) donations fraud [en], by mentioning how he was always a supporter of AKP politics.

@TheRedHack: Kendi iclerindeki usulsuzlukler, RTE ve Melih'e yazdigi mektuplar.. Bugunluk bunlar. Devami sonra ;) Okuyun yayin=> …

@TheRedHack: Irregularities between themselves, and his (mentioning Faik Yavuz) letters to RTE (Recep Tayyip Erdoğan) and Melih… That's all for today. To be continued. Read and spread. …

The mayor responded on Twitter with a screenshot of a long message written by him, which included a lot of bad language and scoff, and the message mentioned that the publicized phone number was wrong or even if it were correct it should not count as a success, since at least 2,000 people have it. Here is the tweet:


@06melihgokcek: Here is my answer for the retards from fake RedHack members and their fans hanging on their tail.

The mayor demanded an apology from the group:


@06melihgokcek: Accept your mistake and apologise to me right now, or… Or be ashamed by the answer that I will give in five minutes… If you have any honor, of course…

Redhack quickly rebuffed the mayor's request for an apology:

@TheRedHack: @06melihgokcek Ulan dingil, ne ozur dileyecegiz senden? Senin adamin bilgisayarindan cikti belgeler, rusvet yiyorsaniz iz birakmayin bari ;)

@TheRedHack: @06melihgokcek Why would we apologise to you, you prick? The documents came out of your guy's computer, well at least do not leave signs after the corruption of yours.

Other Twitter users joined the unfolding argument. One person asked about the allegations of the mayor's assets that he indirectly owned through his sons, by using his political power:

@cgdm_cnr: @06melihgokcek ACityPlus Outlet,Kılıç Petrol,Dikmen Vadisi , Ostim AnkaraSpor üzerinden oğullarına edindiği kanunsuz araziler. iftirami?

@cgdm_cnr: @06melihgokcek The lands that he got by using their sons; ACityPlus, Kilic Petrol, Valley of Dikmen, Ostim, Ankaraspor. Are these true?

The mayor denied the allegations by saying:

@06melihgokcek: Çiğdem ispat edersen ben, etmezsen sen dünyanin en onursuz ve yalanci kişisisin. Hadi onurunu kurtar… @cgdm_cnr

@06melihgokcek: Cigdem if you prove this, then I am; if you cannot prove this, you are the biggest liar and least honorable person in the world. Come on, save your honor…

The day after Redhack published his phone number, Gökçek raised eyebrows by sharing photographs on his Twitter account of a 17-year-old girl named İrem Aksoy, who was taken into custody after she called him “indecent”. First he tweeted about her case:

@06melihgokcek: BUGÜN İREM AKSOY İSİMLİ BAYANI BANA “edepsizsin Melih Gökçek” DİYE (ilave cümlelerde var) HAKARET ETTİĞİ İÇİN KARAKOLA ÇAĞIRMIŞLAR…

@06melihgokcek: Today, a lady was taken into custody for insulting me, by saying “you are indecent, Melih Gokcek” (and there is more to it).

The girl, Aksoy, also tweeted about the incident:

@aksoyirm: melıh gokcek'e hakaretten bugun gozaltına alındım bu surecte benı yalnız bırakmayan tum yoldaslarıma tesekkur edıyorum

@aksoyirm: I was taken into custody for insulting Melih Gökçek. I thank my comrades who never left me alone.

Then Gökçek shared photos of İrem Aksoy which were taken from her own Twitter account. On the photos he shared, İrem Aksoy was drinking raki (a Turkish alcohol drink) and the Mayor thought this as a sign of that she was not ‘that innocent':


@06melihgokcek: Now let's learn about Irem Aksoy, who introduced herself as innocent, through the pictures that she uploaded on her Twitter account

After Gökçek tweeted two more pictures of her drinking raki again (which can be seen here and here), he fired off a heated response to a Twitter user who questioned his actions. Twitter user “agolge” reproached him:

@agolge: Siz hayatınızda hiç genç olmadınız mı ayıptır… @06melihgokcek

@agolge: Weren't you ever young before? It is a shame what you did… @06melihgokcek

The mayor's response was:

@06melihgokcek: Genç olmak insanlara hakaret hakkı mı veriyor?Edepli yetişeceksinizYetişmemekte direnirseniz biz büyükleriniz size bunu öğreteceğiz @agolge 

@06melihgokcek: Does being young give you the right to insult others? You will grow up as decent people. If you fight against it, we -the grown ups- will teach you that.

Twitter user Ali Remzi Gemalmaz joined in the fray by sharing an old picture of the mayor in a tweet:

@AliRemzii: @06melihgokcek rakı içmek ayıpsa aynı haltı sen niye yedin?yada niye meze oldun rakı sofrasında başgan? zavallısın..

@AliRemzii: @06melihgokcek If it is a shame to drink raki, why did you do the same thing? Or why did you join the drinking session, mayor? You are pathetic.

After the mayor denied the photo's accuracy, claiming it was a photo montage, famous Turkish porn actor and producer Şahin K. said:

@SahinK_original: @06melihgokcek @AliRemzii Baskan benim filmlerin de hepsi montaj:))

@SahinK_original: @06melihgokcek @AliRemzii Hey Mayor, all of my movies are photo-montage based, too.

Redhack offered up one more picture of the mayor showing him years ago at a table surrounded by people drinking raki:

@TheRedHack: 17 yasinda kizin evini polislerle bastitip resmini yayinlayan çete lideri @06melihgokcek once kendi resmine baksin=>

@TheRedHack: Gang leader Melih Gokcek who attacks a 17-year-old girl's house with policemen and put her pictures on the Internet should check his picture first.

Redhack has recently released a documentary called “RED!”[tr] to explain who they are and what they want to accomplish:

February 27 2013

Turkish Women Speak Up: My Body, My Decision

Two weeks ago, Turkish courts [tr] released Fatih Nerede, who has a criminal history of rapeg and robbery, after he raped a woman in Diyarbakir, a city in the southeast region of Turkey, in front of her three year-old child. The reason behind the decision to release him by the court pending trial is, that as the institution of forensic medicine told to the court “It is not possible to decide if the rape victim was psychologically damaged by the rape or not, before 18 months after the incident.” This incident might be shocking but unfortunately it is not the only one.

In May 2012 [tr], N.Y., a young girl who lives in Bitlis city of east region of Turkey, who had a mild mental disability, was raped by a man named S.I. and got pregnant after the incident. According to N.Y.'s statement she was raped several times by S.I. and she got pregnant after the rape, which she hid from her family and had a miscarriage on the sixth month of her unwanted pregnancy. She buried the dead body of the fetus. She mentioned that, she was scared and she was threatened by S.I. and this was the reason why she did not talk about the rape to anyone. It was the mother of N.Y. who discovered the tragedy, since her daughter was behaving suspiciously and differently. The Institution of forensic medicine, prepared a report on the incident which shows the father of the dead fetus was S.I. by a chance of 99.9%, due the DNA tests. The Bitlis Psychiatric Hospital also mentioned that, N.Y. was psychologically damaged by the rape. Despite the reports, and the statement of N.Y., the court decided there was not enough evidence to proof that S.I. raped N.Y., so S.I. was acquitted.

Even though, Turkish women can be seen as “lucky” compared to women in other Muslim countries, they still suffer tremendously. According to a study in 2009, only 40% of married women met their spouse on their own and decided to marry. Fifty per cent of women tied the knot through an arranged marriage. The same research shows that 35% percent of women have been subjected to physical violence by their husbands, at least once in their life. In the East of the country, this number goes up to 40%.

Another problem for Turkish women is that they can not get their economical independence, since only 27% of work force in Turkey are women, according to TUIK [tr] (Turkish Statistical Institute). And women are not represented in the parliament [tr] efficiently; there are only 79 women members of the 548-strong member parliament. And 46 female members of the parliament are from the AKP (Justice and Development Party) -the ruling party. That means there are only 33 women members of parliament are from the opposition – a mere 6% of the total number of the members of parliament.

The ruling party of Turkey, AKP, is also putting pressure on women in their speeches and politics on women and women rights. In 2008 [tr], Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey, said in a panel on World Women Day : “For keeping our young population increasing, give birth to at least three children.”

In 2011 [en], Erdogan was furious with Dilsat Aktas, a protester who climbed an armoured police-carrier and was beaten up by police and suffered a hip fracture. He criticized her for attacking police. This was less than a year after another female protester[tr] was attacked by the police, and lost her unborn child, eventhough she had begged the police not to kick her stomach because she was pregnant.

At the end of 2012 [en], another argument on women hit the headlines. Erdogan said “Every abortion is an Uludere” by mentioning the Uludere or Roboski, as known in Kurdish, where 34 Kurdish civilian were killed by Turkish Air Force by an accident, while civilians were passing the border for smuggling and mistaken for terrorists by mistake. But this was not only shocking speech for women. During that same period, the Minister of Health talked about banning abortion: “They are asking what will happen to woman if she got raped and got pregnant? If something happens like that, she should give birth to the child, and if it is necessary the government can raise the child.”

Blogger Jenny White spoke up saying:

What is more disturbing is the reasoning — that if births are not increased, Turkey — and Turkishness — will disappear off the map. This is a jingoistic fear that resonates with the old racialist understanding of Turkishness as soy (lineage, descent), a blood-based nationalism like Germany’s jus sanguinis. In such a conception of national membership, there is no room for immigrants, migrants, or minorities, even if they are culturally assimilated. Ask the fourth-generation Turks in Germany.

Turkey-based writer and columnist Andrew Finkel wrote:

Already, the Turkish parliament has been barking at its master’s voice and is considering restricting the grounds on which, and the term of their pregnancy during which, women may seek an abortion. Turkey liberalized abortion in 1983 in response to high rates of illegal terminations and maternal mortality. If more women start dying again because they are forced to seek illegal abortions, then Erdogan’s odd analogy to the massacre at Uludere may turn out to be more apt than it should.

One of the comments on Andrew Finkel's post was telling of how horrible such statements are:

@AJBaker: Odd how often people with dictatorial instincts think it is their business to regulate a woman's fertility. Both Hitler and Stalin opposed abortion and believed that women should have brood like hens.


Twitter user AncienRose shared a story of a woman who had an abortion when it was illegal in Turkey. The story tells how hard and painful an illegal abortion was, and how prime minister's words can be real if abortion is banned:

@ERIKLIRECEL: “Her kürtaj bir Uludere’dir”: Yasaklı günlerden bir kürtaj hikâyesi » AGOS … @AGOSgazetesi aracılığıyla

“Every abortion is an Uludere”: An abortion story from the days of illegal abortion » Agos … by @AGOSgazetesi

The abortion ban was not enacted because of the protests against it. The protests gathered around one slogan “benim bedenim, benim kararim (my body, my decision)” and a website was created for the pictures all around the world of people against the ban:


It says “my body, my decision” on picture of a woman's hand. Picture is taken from

Here is a youtube video prepared by incisozluk (a Turkish social internet forum) for ‘my body, my decision’ protests:

Turkish women protested, and protected their rights by saying ‘my body, my decision.’ But it seems like they still have a long way to go and fight until it is 100% their decision what to do on their body or their life.

February 20 2013

Turkey: Lynch Attempt on Kurdish Members of Parliament in Sinop

Two-thousand angry protesters attacked and attempted to lynch members of a Kurdish delegation visiting Sinop, a city in the Black Sea region of Northern Turkey.

The visit of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Democratic Congress of the People (HDK) was part of their tour to cities with relatively small Kurdish populations. BDP is the only party in parliament which stands for the Kurdish people's rights and is also known to be the legal and political wing of the Kurdish guerrilla organization, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK.)

BDP's decision to visit the region, known for its nationalist and conservative population, was a first in the history of the Kurdish movement, since the party focuses on eastern regions and big cities which of a mixed demographic.

At the end of 2012, the Turkish government started negotiations with the imprisoned leader of the PKK Abdullah Öcalan, for a solution to end the 30-year war between the Kurds and the government. At the center of these negotiations is a new constitution, that includes Kurdish identity and will not imprison Kurdish guerrillas who are fighting or have fought against the Turkish military.

The delegations visit to Sinop was the first step in starting a dialogue with the larger Turkish population to garner their support for the Kurdish-government negotiations.

But when the delegation arrived, protesters threw stones and shouted angrily at BDP's member of parliament Sırrı Süreyya Önder. To escape the the attack the BDP and HDK members raced into a nearby teachers’ lodge. The angry protesters then surrounded the building, threw rocks inside and also destroyed the vehicles of the BDP members. Two protesters climbed on the roof of the building to hoist a Turkish flag and a put up a poster of Atatürk, the founder of the country.

BDP members are trying to build a barricade on windows by using the tables and chairs. Picture is taken from Sirri Sureyya Onder's Twitter account.

One of the destroyed cars of BDP members. Picture is taken from Twitter.

During the protest, Sırrı Süreyya Önder shared these pictures on his Twitter account and tweeted:

@sirsureyya: Lincci fasist guruh iceriye tasve yanici madde atiyorlar. Polis birsey yapmiyor. Kendi onlemimizi aliyoruz.

The fascist, lynch group is throwing rocks and combustible materials inside. Police is not doing anything against them. We are trying to take precautions by ourselves.

A few hours later the protesters finally left the area, after policemen asked them, rather politely, to leave.

Diyarbakır, a Kurdish city at the south-east of Turkey, hosted protests a few hours later against the lynch attempt. The police responded to these protests with tear gas and water hoses. Protests then spread to other cities, including İstanbul and the capital Ankara.

Protesters left the area after policemen's polite requests of hours. Picture is taken from Ötekilerin Postası's Page.

BDP member of parliament Ertuğrul Kürkçü tweeted about the protests in İstanbul by sharing this picture:

Protests in İstanbul against the lynch attempt. Picture is taken from Ertuğrul Kürkçü's twitter account.

@ekurkcumedya: İstanbul'da eylem devam ediyor.

Protests continue in İstanbul.

There were mixed reactions to the incident on social media. Journalist Gonca Şenay tweeted a picture taken from inside the teachers’ lodge during the protest and tweeted:

@goncasenay: Sinop ogretmenevinde camlardan iceri giren olmasin diye alinan onlem sanirim cok sey anlatiyor….

I guess, the barricades on the windows in Sinop Teachers’ Lodge tell us a lot..;

Columnist Hayko Bağdat shared a picture of Sırrı Süreyya Önder while he was building a barricade on a window by tweeting:

@haykobagdat: Sırrı Abi Sinop'ta barışı inşa ediyor…

Brother Sırrı is building the peace in Sinop…

Twitter user B. Akoz shared a a picture of a banner that protesters were holding. The banner says: “Leave Sinop. Only three things can silence Sinop Youth Platform. Sound of Azan (call for prayer), a moment of silence, the Turkish National anthem…”

Here is Akoz's tweet that mentions the “SinopDurDedi” (Sinop said stop) hashtag which was started by the supporters of the Sinop protests:

@BerkAkz: Helal olsun bplı pkklılara Sinop DurDedi mecliste kimse dur diyemedi ama Sinop DurDedi çocuk katillerine ..

Good, Sinop said stop to the BDP and PKK members. Nobody could say stop in the parliament but Sinop said stop to the child killers…

Another Twitter user shared a picture of a destroyed car of BDP members and tweeted:

@ErolOnay60: Sinoptaki Bdp'lilerin arabasını Sinoplu kardeşlerimiz yeniden şekillendirmiş :)) Sinop DurDedi

Our brothers in Sinop reshaped the car of BDP members :)) Sinop said stop.


January 27 2013

Pınar Selek Issused a Life Sentence after 15 Year Trial

Pınar Selek, a Strasbourg-based sociologist and a writer, previously accused of bombing the Istanbul Spice Bazaar in 1998, was sentenced to life in prison in Turkey. After after being acquitted three times during her almost 15 year-long trial, the final verdict was delivered on January 24, 2013. If she returns to Turkey, she will be arrested by the police.

Selek's long journey with the Turkish Judicial System started on July 11, 1998, just two days after the explosions at the entrance of Istanbul's Spice Bazaar. The explosion killed seven and wounded approximately 100 people. Despite suspicions regarding the cause of the explosion being caused by a PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) bombing, six investigative reports indicated that the explosion was not due to a bombing or terrorist attack. Things started to get interesting after this. Pınar Selek was arrested two days after the explosion; authorities assumed that she was a member of PKK.

Another suspect, Abdülmecit Öztürk, was arrested around two weeks after Selek and confessed that they had planned and carried out the bombing together. But, as soon as he was transferred to court, he claimed that he had been tortured and had been made to accept the charges despite non-involvement. During the trial,  Öztürk's confession indicated that his aunt had met with Pınar Selek as her nephew's fiancée. The indictment indicated that when visiting the house, Öztürk and Selek entered a room together and stayed in there alone for a while. The aunt recognized Selek by her picture and admitted that Selek and her nephew had visited. But, while on the witness stand at trial, Öztürk's aunt clearly did not know any Turkish and could only speak Kurdish, which cast doubt on her ability to give a statement in Turkish without any linguist or translator present. This was in addition to dubious reports concerning the explosion, as all reports failed to establish a connection between the explosion and a bomb. The reports suggested that the main reason of the explosion was a gas leak.

The court ordered life sentence for Pınar Selek. Picture taken from her Facebook Page.

Pınar Selek was arrested in July 1998 and freed after two and a half years, on December 22, 2000, by a local court. After an appeal by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Istanbul Police Department's, another group of experts (members of gendarme) proposed that the explosion could have occurred by a bomb, even though, one of the civil experts in the group did not accept the result of the report. This expert prepared another report showing that explosion did not occur by a bomb and claimed that the report prepared by the gendarme experts was unacceptable and not scientific or trustworthy.

On June 8, 2006, the Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court announced its first ruling of acquitting Pınar Selek and Abdülmecit Öztürk, saying that, in regard to the Spice Bazaar explosion, “no certain and believable evidence that requires punishment could be found.” This decision was reversed by the 9th Penal Department of the Supreme Court on April 17th, 2007, on the basis that “no verdict had been given.” On May 23, 2008, Selek was acquitted for the second time by the Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court. After another appeal to this decision, on February 9, 2011, she was acquitted for the third time. The public prosecutor appealed the acquittal, just one day after the decision given by Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court. And on January 24, 2013, the court ordered a lifetime sentence on Pınar Selek.

On her Twitter account, Pınar Selek called her supporters to the gates of the court during a break before the announcement for the final verdict, by tweeting:

@Pinar_Selek: Davaya karar icin ara verildi.Herkesin Caglayan Adliyesi C kapisinda acilen toplanmasi cok onemli. Gidisat iyi gorunmuyor

A break given before the final verdict. It is so important to meet up in front of the Caglayan Court Gate C. It does not seem good.

Author of “Blood & Belief”, Aliza Marcus expressed shock with the Turkish Judicial System by tweeting:

@AlizaMarcus: The Turkish court system is so unbelievable: sociologist Pınar Selek acquitted 3 times & then sentenced to life in prison

Journalist Balçiçek İlter tweeted:

@Balciceki: Pınar selek'e 3 kez beraattan sonra müebbet! Bu ülkede hukuk bitmiştir! Adalet mi? Guldurmeyin beni!

Life sentence for Pınar Selek after three acquittals. There is no law in this country any more! Justice? Do not make me laugh!

Another journalist Cüneyt Özdemir supported her by tweeting:

@cuneytozdemir: Pınar Selek yalnızca yanlış zamanda yanlış yerde bulunmadı. Yanlış zamanda yanlış ülkede doğdu!

Pınar Selek was not only at the wrong place at the wrong time. She was also born in the wrong country.

Pınar Selek supporters shared this picture on the Facebook Page of “Collectif Solidarité Pınar Selek” to rally support for her acquittal:

Supporters of Pınar Selek are protesting the verdict of the court by carrying a banner saying “We want Pınar Selek's acquittal back”. Picture taken from Collectif Solidarité Pinar Selek Facebook Page.

International organizations were trying to draw attention to Pınar Selek's trial earlier this week. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) posted articles on January 21 on their websites mentioning the continuous judicial harassment against Pınar Selek. In December 2012,  PEN, the worldwide association of writers, also expressed concerns regarding the judicial harassment of Pınar Selek.

After all she has been acquitted three times and still fighting for a fourth acquittal. It might be hard to understand how she can handle a 15 year-long trial which might end up in a definitive life sentence. But, her words on [tr] website which has been lauvhed by her friends to support her, explains how she still fights for her freedom:

Yoksunlukları, adaletsizlikleri, şiddeti keşfettikçe kendi kendimize soruyoruz: “Mutluluk mümkün mü?” Ben, bu kısacık varoluş macerasını güzel yaşamak için adalete ve özgürlüğe ihtiyaç duyanlardanım. Bunun için politika yapıyorum. Başkalarını kurtarmak için değil, mutlu olmak için, herkesinkiyle derinden ve karmaşık bağlara sahip olan hayatımı değiştirmek için… Gözümü yumup mutsuz olmamak için gözlerimi açıp acı çekiyorum.

We ask to ourselves when we explore the poorness, unfairness, violence: “Is happiness possible?” I am one of the people who need freedom and justice to live the very short and beautiful adventure of existence. That is what I am fighting for. Not to save others, to be happy, to change my life which has deep and complicated connections with the lives of others… I am keeping my eyes open and suffering, instead of closing my eyes and being unhappy.

January 11 2013

Zonguldak Accident Draws Attention to Turkish Miners' Plight

Zonguldak is a mining city on Black Sea coast of Turkey, and the name of the city originates from Turkish zondalik, which means swamp. After the death of eight miners in an accident which occurred in a gas leak in a mine on January 7, that is how all mines around the city seem like to the miners - an endless swamp.

Miners in Zonguldak. Picture is taken by gecetreni on flickr.

Kozlu, where the accident occurred, is a town in the central district of Zonguldak Province, and also has a tragic history for miners. In 1992, after a firedamp explosion in the mine, 263 miners died. This was the biggest disaster in the 150 years of Zonguldak's mining history. But it was not the only one. In 1983, Ereğli, a town in the central district of Zonguldak Province, again turned into grave for 102 miners after a firedamp explosion. Just three years ago, on May 17, 2010, the death of 30 miners in the same city shocked the whole country once again. After years and years, the only thing that changes is the numbers of the death. Even that could not prevent Turkey to pass China in becoming the top of the list of the numbers of miners death per 100,000 miners in the world according to the International Labour Organisation.

The signs of the accident on January 7 have some similarities with the previous ones. Another subcontractor company running the mine, which does not have the required qualifications and has no previous experience on mining, as it is a construction company. Even the government tries to stay away from the responsibilities of the accident, in their inspection on the mine by the inspectors of ministry of internal affairs shows that the subcontractor did not fulfill basic safety and health requirements. According to the report on Turkey Anthracite Society Kozlu Anthracite Processing Company (the same mine that eight miners died) which was prepared by the court of account in 2011, ‘it is just a lucky coincidence not having a fatal accident in this mine'. As it is clear for all to see, every single department of the government, including parliament, ‘have seen' these problems about the mine and the subcontractor but no precautions were taken.

On the other hand, it came out that just one and half years ago, same miners held a protest and a strike that lasted two weeks, and mentioned that they could not get their deserved payments and they were made to work under really bad circumstances. According the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, one of the miners, Ayhan Gökgöz (35) who has spoken by mentioning death of 30 miners on TV during the strike said:

“Bu arkadaşlarımız göz göre göre öldü. Önlemler alınsaydı, hiçbir şey olmayacaktı. İş işten geçtikten sonra ’ah anam bunlar gitti’ denmesin. Sayın Valim, emniyet müdürüm, milletvekilleri sesimizi duysunlar. Biz işçi olmak istiyoruz. Biz çalışma koşullarımız iyileşsin istiyoruz. Yalvarıyoruz yetkililere, Allah için gelsinler görsünler halimizi”

“These friends of ours died so obviously. If there were precautions in place nothing was going to happen. Nobody would say ‘oh so sad we lost them' after everything is done. Dear governor, chief of security, senator hear us. We want to be workers. We want better working conditions. We are begging officials, for God's sake, see our conditions.”

And another miner simply yelled to the cameras:

“Lamba, maske bile vermiyorlar. Kazmayı küreği kendimiz alıyoruz”

“They do not even give us a flashlight or mask, we even brought our own digging tools.”

And on January 10, 2013, the same miner Ayhan Tokgöz was talking again and this time he said:

Ölen 8 arkadaşımla beraber 30 işçi öldüğünde Karadon Maden Ocağı’na gittik. Beraber ağladık orada. Hatta, ’Biz de böyle olur muyuz’ diye konuştuk ve olduk.

“We with our eight friends laying dead in the mine went near our 30 friends who died in the mining accident when it happened. We all cried together. And even we asked each other ‘Will we end up like that too?' and we did.”

After the accident, Turkey Anthracite Society Kozlu Anthracite Processing Company's vice director Ali Demirsoy met with the families of the three miners whose dead bodies are still in the collapsed mine to share information. Though his speech surprised the people, as he said “Look you are all veiled women here… It is not important as you are veiled or not, we are in that kind of situation.” It is not the first time of surprising speeches by the officials, after mine accidents in Turkey. After death of 30 miners in 2010, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “dying is the destiny of a miner” and Omer Dinçer, the minister of labor and social security, followed him a few days later by mentioning “miners died in a beautiful way, without suffering.”

The reactions of netizens were almost in the same direction with each other - even though they had different political views. Hakan Coşar (@hakancoar1) said on his Twitter account:

Daha çok grizu patlamaları ve göçüklerle gündeme gelen madenciler.Güneşin doğuşunu ve mavi gök yüzünü onlardan daha iyi anlayan var mıdır?

Miners are on the agenda only after explosions and collapses. Is there anyone understanding the sunrise and the blue sky better than them?

Twitter user Dede (@mhmmtgkc) mentioned the government official news channel TRT Haber's program during the accident. He twitted:

Daha yarım saat önce patlamanın olduğu işletme TRT Haber'deydi. Yok güvenlik şöyle yok dedektörler böyle dediler yarım saat sonra facia :S

Just half an hour ago, the mine that had an explosion was on TRT Haber. They were praising the security and detectors and just half an hour later, disaster :S

Ernoyan Ç. (@ernoyan) who comes from a miner family as he admitted, brought another angle to the incident by saying:

Madenci bir ailenin çocuğuyum. Dedelerim de babam da madenlerde çalıştı. Ne zaman bir maden kazası haberi gelse yüreğim parçalanıyor

I am a child of a miner family. My grandfathers, my dad worked in the mines, too. Whenever I hear about a mine accident, my heart shatters in pieces

Acz (@aczvefakr) tried to draw attention to one of the miners who gave his life away by saying:

taşeron çalışan muhsin akyüz 800 TL maaş alıyordu. 14 yerine 7 kere, 25 yerine 10 metre sondaj yapıldı diyorlar. muhsin'i devlet öldürdü.

working under subcontractor, Muhsin Akyüz was earning 800 TL per month. They say explorations have been made just 7 times instead of 14,  just 10 meters deep instead of 25. The government killed Muhsin.

On Turkish social platform, one of the users, nicknamed as “nekadarmukemmelimsahaneharukayim” entered an entry telling, how usual these accidents start to become:

haberi duyduğumuzda anlamsız hayatlarımıza ara verip yarım dakika bilemedin 1 dakika etkilendiğimiz, sorumlularının hukuken hiç bir ceza almayacakları, köseleşmiş vicdanları sebebiyle suçluluk bile duymayacağı ”iş kazası”dır.

This is a kind of “work accident” which makes us give 30 seconds or at best 1 minute break to our meaningless lives, the kind of accident which will have no charge for the people who are responsible for it, and by the help of their blunted conscience, they will not feel guilty for it.

Zonguldak once again hits headlines as usual with a mine accident. Even there were reactions on the social media, especially on (a social platform in Turkey) and twitter, one of them was telling everything all smooth and clearly. Nilüfer Zengin, sister of Köksal Kadıoğlu who lost his life in the accident, cried out at the funeral of her brother:

“Seni bu ocaklara girmeye mecbur kılan bu düzen utansın ağabey. Sana ’girme’ dedim. Sen, ’Girmek zorundayım, ne yapayım kardeşim, özel sektör bu çalışmadan sigorta vermiyorlar’ dedin. Emekliliğine 5 sene kalmıştı ağabeyimin”

“Shame on the system that puts you into those mines. I told you not to enter there, and you said; ‘I have to do it, what else I can do my sister, this is private sector they do not give insurance without working'. Only five more years were left for your retirement.”

December 29 2012

MENA: Acclaimed Authors’ Favorites of 2012

M. Lynx Qualey, blogger, who is interested in Arab and Arabic literature, wrote a series of posts introducing acclaimed Arab poets, novelists, and short-story writers’ favorite Arab reads of 2012. She started with a list of nonfiction books, then followed by a list for poetry [En] and fiction [En].

November 18 2012

Is Öcalan the Key to Negotiations with Turkey?

Hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners have been on hunger strike in Turkey for 67 days. As their health has continued to worsen, politicians around the world have raised an eyebrow or two. There has been numerous solidarity protests around Europe, and 24-hour hunger strikes by Kurdish politicians were declared in support of those on hunger strike. They demanded an end to a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party Abdullah Öcalan's isolation, and to allow the use of the Kurdish language in public spaces without discrimination. None of these demands have been met, but surprisingly a statement from Öcalan has been made, where he calls for an end to hunger strikes according to his brother Mehmet Öcalan.

The call to end mass hunger strikes did not change the rising tensions between Kurds and the Turkish state. Demonstrations were already underway in one Kurdish city, Diyarbakir. The police responded (as usual) by firing tear-gas from APCs.

Ivan Watson from CNN highlights the current tensions in Diyarbakir in his recent report here, where he quotes several prominent Kurds in the Diyarbakir community.

Police forces throughout Diyarbakir have spoken through loudspeakers during that demonstration, saying Öcalan has declared an end to hunger strikes. This is seen by some people that Öcalan is still relevant to settling Turkey's Kurdish question.

Some Kurdish leaders, such as Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani, have said Öcalan will play a key role in negotiations between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish state. Despite this, Öcalan has been in complete isolation, and recently his lawyers were restricted from visiting him. Although many people have disregarded any criticism of Öcalan, it is important to point out that the circumstances under which Öcalan has made these statements remains unknown, and to a large extent questions Öcalan's role as a leader. Were his statements made to ease the political pressure on Turkey despite none of the demands being met, or does he genuinely believe hunger strikes should not be held by imprisoned politicians.

Zeynep Erdim tweets:

@zeynep_erdim: Witnesses in #Diyarbakir #Amed say police vehicles announce “Ocalan asked #KurdishHungerStrike to end,” as they patrol. How surreal!

Not everyone looked at the statement in a positive light, nor were they persuaded because none of the demands have been met, and it raises some questions about Öcalan and why he did not ask those on Hunger strike to end their strike in the early stages when they started. The damage to the health of hundreds of political prisoners who have been on hunger strike may well be irreversible.

Lawen Azad asks:

@LawenAzad: How so? None of the demands have been met as far as we know. What has 67 days of hunger strike been for?

Others looked at the call for an end to hunger strikes positively, but one thing is for sure, the online community is in mixed thoughts and reactions to the current news.

Kamal Chomani writes:

@KamalChomani: Ocalan's call to end hunger strike should be supported. Why should people die when Erdogan does not care? the struggle is continuing, this is important.

And Heballo notes:

@Hevallo: The hunger strikers knew Ocalan would say stop and they have forced the state to prove his influence on the movement!

November 05 2012

Turkey: Turkish Police Use Tear-Gas Against Protesting Mothers

Kurdish political prisoners have reached their 55th day of hunger strike. There are hundreds of political prisoners on hunger strike in Turkey, and this has led to solidarity protests throughout Europe, and in particular within Turkey. Earlier yesterday [November 4, 2012], the mothers of some of the political prisoners staged a sit-in, and were met with tear-gas, as well as water canisters was sprayed directly on them. Turkish mainstream media and governmental ministers remain oblivious to unfolding anger by Kurdish people, and their disregard for a political settlement of Turkey's Kurdish question has made the situation worse.

In much of Kurdistan, there has been solidarity protests but despite the attention the hunger strikes have received within Kurdish regions, there are few mainstream media outlets reporting on the hunger strike. The lack of media coverage has angered many Kurds, who are being vocal on social networking sites. Hulya, from Liverpool, says:

@hulyaulas: The biggest political hunger strike in history by Kurdish political prisoners is being ignored in world's media.

Dirman adds:

@dirman95: It is so hard to eat knowing that the hunger strike has been going on for over 51 days and the world is doing nothing about it… disgusting.

Al Jazeera’s The Stream has been the only internationally acknowledged mainstream outlet that has highlighted the gravity of the hunger strike. They have used their social media outlets to raise awareness. For example they recently tweeted:

@ajstream: Why has the government and Media in Turkey ignored the hunger strikes of 715 Kurdish political prisoners?

An online petition has been launched, with 3,451 supporters so far, that asks the Turkish government to engage in constructive dialogue with the prisoners. Judith Butler from Berkeley comments:

The Turkish government must enter into serious dialogue with these prisoners who now risk their lives to expose the injustice under which they live. posted the following picture on Facebook.

Kurds in Slemani, South Kurdistan show solidarity with their Kurdish sisters and brothers (at least 682 inmates) who are on hunger strike in 67 prisons across Turkey.

And Tara Fatehi, a Kurdish activist in Australia, expressed her anger at the international community:

Thousands of Kurdish political prisoners have been on hunger strike in Turkey since Sept 12 and the International community remains silent. This is Kurdish hunger for freedom, it is not a new concept. The Kurds have been fighting for rights, peace and freedom for decades. Hannelore Kuchlersaid said it best “Kurdistan is a country taken hostage.” and whilst the international media want you to think this is solely about Abdullah Ocalan and the PKK, it is not. It's about acquiring basic human rights in their own homeland.

October 21 2012

Turkey: Silent Treatment of Hunger Strike met with Anger by Kurds

Hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey have entered an indefinite hunger strike. The non-violent protest has gone unnoticed by international media agencies and human rights organisations. One activist, who has been vocal about this protest, says the hunger strike demands the following:

@hevallo: Releasing Kurdish leader of Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK) rebels to negotiate a peace settlement

@hevallo: Freedom to use Kurdish language in public sphere

@hevallo: Political settlement for the Kurdish question in Turkey

Today marks the 40th day of their hunger strike, and since their start there has been very little information about the prisoners on hunger strike, and their demands in media outlets. Al Jazeera's The Stream has showed some interest to highlight the hunger strike, while other media agencies that respond to social networking demands have remained silent.

Members of Committee of International Relation of Swedish Left Party have joined the indefinite hunger strike, which was started on 12 September by Kurdish political prisoners held in Turkey.

The Global Times reports that mainstream Turkish outlets have failed to report on this hunger strike because the journalists are too afraid of being charged by the Turkish state.

What is more humiliating is the ignorance of Turkish media. None of the mainstream press installations picked up the story. One might claim that most of Turkish public is not even aware of the hunger strike. The government threatens and then charges the journalists with terrorism if they report human rights issues, especially about the Kurdish minority.

This has angered Kurds on social media. Nechirvan says “No one cares about Kurds” and Saya asks “Where are the activists?” to fill in the vacuum which media agencies have created on the hunger strike by political prisoners.

Raphael Thelen recently wrote an article about the Hunger strike on Lebanon News saying:

Kurds are a forgotten people. Called the largest nation without a state, they have been fighting for social, cultural and, at times, national rights for decades. But most of the time, nobody cared. Recently the Kurdish Worker’s Party’s (PKK) renewed war against the Turkish government has made headlines. What bleeds, as journalists say, leads.

Despite the lack of reporting from journalists and mainstream news sites, ordinary Kurds have used Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites to raise awareness about this hunger strike, which many perceive as fundamental towards the future of Kurdish leaders of PKK rebels.

October 17 2012

Turkey: Hundreds of Kurdish Political Prisoners go on Hunger Strike

Hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners have entered an indefinite hunger strike, challenging Turkey's treatment of Kurdish political prisoners. Through their protest, some are demanding re-trials and language rights while others want to raise international attention about Turkey's treatment of Kurdish political prisoners. Despite their hunger strike, which is nearing six weeks, international media outlets have largely remained silent. This is not particularly surprising, since domestic media outlets in Turkey have both ignored the hunger strikes, and refused to report on them.

A Kurdish blogger explains how the protests began. Memed Boran, currently residing in London, says;

On 12th September 2012, nine women prisoners in Diyarbakir E type prison began an indefinite hunger-strike. In the statement they made via lawyers they highlighted two demands: the right to use their Kurdish mother tongue in the public sphere, including court and the removal of obstacles preventing imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan from negotiating in peace talks with the Turkish state. Soon after, many other inmates, men and women, from prisons in every corner of Turkey began joining the hunger-strike; sometimes in groups and in certain prisons individually. Now there are 380 prisoners in 39 prisons who are on what has surpassed a hunger-strike and become a ‘death fast.’

The number of Kurdish political prisoners is unknown, but according to Human Rights agencies there are thousands of political prisoners in Turkey, and this had led activists to believe that all of them, or rather significant number of them are on hunger strike. Elif from Turkey, Istanbul says the media has chosen to ignore Kurds on hunger strike, and that many of them may soon die.

One Pro-Kurdish rights activist, who tweets under @Hevallo has been desperately trying to get people on Twitter to send Vitamin B1 tablets to the prisoners on hunger strike, in an attempt to minimise the damage to their bodies, and the potentially inevitable consequence, death.

On Facebook Sedat Yezdan says:

In the last 3 years Turkish state has arrested more than 10,000 Kurds, who are students, children, mothers, activists, journalists, lawyers, doctors, mayors, MPs, and many people who are member of Peace & Democracy Party(BDP).

Hunger strikes are a form of non-violent protest, and despite the ongoing and large number of hunger strikers, Turkish media has willfully ignored their plight, perhaps hoping that through their silence the international human rights agencies will also follow a similar path. The lack of interviews with prisoners on hunger strikes has facilitated a justification for media outlets to ignore it, particularly journalists who complain about the lack of resources available.

October 10 2012

Arab World: The Plight of Syrian Refugee Girls

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

As the Syrian Revolution continues, its consequences continue to effect refugees who have fled the violence in the country, especially women who are paying a double price as victims of violence in these armed conflicts. In a patriarchal and male chauvinist culture that constantly abuses the weakness of the woman for its own interests, Syrian refugee girls in Jordan, Libya, Turkey and Lebanon are subject to the pressures of forced marriages from Syrian or other Arab nationals under the pretext of protecting their virtue at any price.

Within this context, news on Syrian refugee girls forced marriages or even campaigns to marry them off to “protect their virtue” have gone viral on social media.  The Facebook Page “Syrian Women with the Revolution”, created originally to support the revolution in Syria, has received many “marriage demands” from young Arabs wishing to tie the knot with a Syrian refugee so as “to protect her honor.”

For example, Rami from Jordan posted:

مرحبا انا رامي من الاردن عمري 25 وارغب في اازواج من فتاة سورية ونا واللة جاد جدا وارغب في الستر والحمدلله عندي بيت وراتبي منيح والحمدلله

Hello, I am Rami, 25 years old from Jordan. I'd like to marry a Syrian girl. I swear I am very serious and I wish to protect the honor. Thanks to God, I have a house and my salary is good. Thanks God

In response, many Syrians revealed their extreme irritation and anger over the abuse of the conditions of refugee families through such marriage contracts and bargains. On the other hand, the phenomena reached Libya, where Syrian refugees talked about Libyans knocking on their doors, looking to marry girls in exchange for money.

Taken from “Syrian Women with the Revolution Page” where we can read: Is this is how we are being rewarded? By you buying our sisters from the refugees camps? Shame on you and on your sense of honor. The Liberated Kfarnabl 04/09/2012

Helal Samarqandy wrote on Facebook:

أقلها هلا ركزت في دعمهن للحصول على ضروريات الحياة ثم اطلب يدها حرة إن أردت، أما استغلال تشردهن وفقدان ضرورات الحياة لديهن فلست بخير من بشار.
لعن الله من لا يحركه الا فرجه.

The least you can do is support them to have the basics of life and then propose to her when she is free if you want but as to exploit their displacement and their lack of the basics things for life, you are no better than Bashar. May God curse the one whose brain is between his legs.

Nbares Blog asserted the existence of secret bureaus for “honor marriages” with Syrian girl in Benghazi, where Syrian refugees speak of Libyans knocking the doors of Syrian families looking to marry from young girls in addition to the existence of offices working discretely. Meanwhile, Libyan Affairs entitles its post “A double suffering for Syrian Refugee Girls …. a war tearing the homeland and marriage proposals that are closer to forced marriages”:

…دكاكين أبو حمد، [ وهو رمز لـ”تاجر نساء” في الأردن والجزائر وليبيا والعراق اختاره أحد الكتاب السعوديين الذين انتقدوا ظاهرة استغلال السوريات اللاجئات من قبل خليجيين وعرب] العربي المتدين الذي يتاجر بالنساء معززا بفتاوى الفقهاء، بدأت انتشارها مع اشتداد الحرب في سوريا، وسرعان ما وجدت زبائنها من الشباب والشيوخ راغبين في الزواج بالسوريات، “لسترهن” أو للتكفل بهن من منطلق أنهن لاجئات لا عائل لهن….. وغالبا ما يتم الزواج بالسوريات اللاجئات بمهور زهيدةحيث لاتملك عائلة العروس إلا القبول نظرا لظروفها الصعبة وبحثا عن “السترة” وحرصا على شرف البنات والعائلة.

We shall not accept humiliation or disgrace. This is opportunism. From “Syrian Women with the Revolution” Facebook Page and the dialogue translates into: - Marry me in Halal and I shall take you and your family from the camp - You left everything and brought victory to Islam by abusing Syrian refugee girls

The shop of Abu Ahmed [” Symbol of the pimp” in Jordan, Algeria and Iraq named by a Saudi writer who criticized the abuse of Syrian refugee girls by Gulf and Arab nationals … ], the Arab patriotic, the religious who trade women based on the fatwas [religious edicts] of clerics, started to spread with the intensification of the war in Syria and quite soon, it found its clients among youth and old men desiring to wed to Syrians so as to protect their honor or to take care of them because they are refugees without any provider. Very often, these women are married with quite a cheap dowry and the family of the bride can only but accept given their dire conditions and looking for “protection” of the girl's honor and her family.

Within the framework of a campaign to support Syrian refugee women in Syria's neighboring countries, some young Syrians created a Facebook page entitled ” Refugees … not captives” whose mission is summarized as follows:

لحماية حقوق المرأة السورية..
لمحاربة امتهان قيمة المرأة السورية..
لدعوة المجتمع الأهلي ورجال الأعمال لدعم المرأة السورية..
لاجئات لا سبايا.. لأن السوريات انتفضن لأجل كرامتهن لا ليكونوا بضاعة رخيصة في سوق النخاسة تحت مسيمات الزواج والسترة..
شاركونا في دعم حملة ” لاجئات لا سبايا

For the protection of the Syrian women rights
For fighting the humiliation of the value of Syrian women
To call the civil society and businessmen to support Syrian women
Refugees not captives, because Syrian women have rebelled for their dignity so not to become cheap goods in the slave markets under the names of marriage and honor. Join us in supporting “Refugees not captives Campaign”

Moayad Skaif, one of the campaign's founders, wonders on his Facebook Page:

دعوات الخليجيين للزواج من سوريات تعني أنهم ينظرون إلى نسائنا كسبايا ولكن بالمال.. إنه سوق نخاسة.. لإرضاء نزواتهم الجنسية وتحسين نسلهم على حساب كرامتنا وبعناوين فضفاضة..
أيها السوري اليتيم.. صرت قشة في قلب الريح..

The calls of Gulf nationals to marry Syrian women means they look at our women as captives but with money… it is a slave market, to satisfy their sexual impulses and enhance their lineage on the expense of our dignity and with bright titles … ohhhh you poor Syrian orphan … you have become a straw in the heart of history

Interviewed by the electronic magazine “Zaman al Wasl” (The times of communication), he wonders:

إذا كانت النخوة والرغبة في المساعدة هي الدافع الحقيقي لدى راغبي الزواج فلماذا لم يهب هؤلاء إلى ستر الصوماليات أو السودانيات من أهل دارفور؟….وإذا كانت الدوافع انسانية بحتة كما يزعمون فليدعموا الشباب السوري الذي أجبرته الظروف على أن يظل أعزبا وهو لاجئ لا يجد قوت يومه.

Cover Page of “Refugees … Not Captives” Facebook Page

If chivalry and the desire to help is the true motive of the marriage seekers, why don't they protect the honor of Somali or Sudanese women in Darfur as well? If the motives are purely humanitarian as they claim, let them support young Syrian males whose conditions have forced them to stay single being refugee and unable to find his daily bread.

Abdelhak on his blog debdoupress insists on the importance of that campaign:

…تهدف الحملة التي أطلقتها الناشطة السورية مزنة دريد تحت شعار( لاجئات لا سبايا) إلى توعية أهالي الفتيات ضد مخاطر هذا الزواج المغلف بعناوين دينية وقيمية اجتماعية، وتوجيه رسالة لبعض الشباب الخليجي والعربي ممن يعتقدون أن الزواج من سوريات طريقة معقولة للمساعدة بأن السوريين يرفضون المساعدة بهذه الطريقة، لأن المخاطر التي قد تترتب على هذا النوع من الزواج تتطلب رفضه.

The campaign launched by the Syrian activist  Mazna Duraid under the title “Refugees not Captives” aims to raise the awareness of the girls parents on the risks of such a marriage covered with religious titles and social values but also to address a message to some of the young people in the Gulf and the Arab World who think that marrying Syrian women is a way of helping, that the Syrians reject such a help because the incumbent risks of such a marriage requires its refusal.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!