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November 09 2013

Turk-Arab Youth Congress: Middle East Needs Greater Regional Cooperation

Participants at the annual Turk-Arab Youth Congress (TAYC) in Istanbul, Turkey at the end of October called for a future in which Turks and Arabs work together at all levels for a better future of the region. 

The Congress emphasized the need for Turks and Arabs to recognize their common heritage as well as conform to their own standards instead of those set by the West. 

Since 2012, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Youth Assembly (IMMYA), a platform for Turkish youth, has held the Turk-Arab Youth Congress (TAYC). The congress is a platform in which Arab and Turkish youth and intellectuals can meet, talk about ideas and bring about a new vision for the region's future. The sessions and workshops are intended to create a comprehensive understanding for the participants and policy makers about the ground issues and challenges that region faces in order to explore new ideas and approaches for the present and future.

Logo of Turk Arab Youth CongressThe theme for this year's TAYC in Istanbul, Turkey, was “justice”, and the topics covered included: creating regional and global civil aid networks, and rethinking regional and global economic institutions. Young people belonging to 24 different Arab countries took part in the congress this year and zealously asked questions about their future, especially against the backdrop of uprisings and political unrest in the Middle East. The three-day (October 25, 2013 to October 27, 2013) program consisted of workshops, sessions and NGO presentations. 

The description of the Facebook page of Turk Arab Youth Congress stated the following goals:

1.To draw a vision for the future of the New Arabic World.
2.To create the platform for the youth to meet with the Arab & the Turkish intellectuals
3.To share and to document the “Street Experience” of the demonstrations from the people of revolution

Image courtesy Gulay Kaplan. From Turk-Arab Youth Congress Facebook Page.

Image courtesy Gulay Kaplan. From Turk-Arab Youth Congress Facebook Page.

On the first day, notable intellectuals and advisors to some political parties in Turkey delivered opening speeches. Panel discussion were conducted to explain the current scenario of the region and future implications.

The Twitter account (@Turk_Arab) of the Turk Arab Youth Congress (TAYC) shared a steady stream of opinions and statements from the speakers. Some noteworthy ones are:

Miss Summeyye Erdogan, Advisor to the Chairman of AK party, told young people to remain united despite the divides between them:

The Director and Coordinator of TAYC 2013, Oguzhan Mailmail (@oguzhan Mailmail) welcomed the participants on the first day and explained the goals of the congress to them.

Dr. Kerem Kinik (@drkerem), President of Doctors Worldwide, gave a presentation on “togetherness” and suggested that young people share their pain and suffering and speak out against oppression:

@Turk_Arab @GenclikMeclisi said #R4BIA @r4biaplatform

Turk Arab Youth Congress (@Turk_Arab) tweeted:

Omar Salha (@o_salha), founder of Ramadan Tent and a doctoral fellow working on global diplomacy, conducted sessions on the intervention of international organizations in local conflicts and politics. He considered the interaction with the participants an insightful one:

Izzy (@islam_altayeb), a Middle East analyst, tweeted:

The “Economic and Financial Commission” was moderated by Muzammil Thakur (@M_A_Thakur), an advocate for the cause of Indian occupied Kashmir:

The economic and financial committee at the workshop

Merve Serire (@karakurukiz), who studied economics at Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey, moderated the social, humanitarian and cultural commission:

The cultural and humanitarian and social committee at the workshop

As an example of the impact of the platform, Dorra Amara (@DorraAmara) from Tunisia and Merve Serire (@karakurukiz) from Turkey became close at the Congress. Amara tweeted this picture:

At the end of all the sessions and workshops, the participants were asked to devise solutions for the Syrian refugee problem. Representative from each workshop shared information with all the participants in an evaluation conducted on the evening of October 26 and October 27, 2013:

@Turk_Arab Assessment of second day sessions at Youth Congress. #tayc2013 #TAYC2013

A short video clip, highlighting the overview of the congress can also be viewed through the following link:

It is evident that events of such nature are giving the Muslim youth a chance to channel their energies in the correct direction. They are discussing their future as they alone can better understand the dynamics of their respective countries. Apart from political harmony and unity, people across the borders can interact with each other. This is significant for Arab region that is going through disharmony and uncertainty.

Thumbnail image by author. Translations by Amira Al Hussaini & Baran Mavzer.

October 01 2013

Video: Anti-fascist Solidarity from Turkey to Greece

“We made this video to tell you we are with us. We had nothing more in mind.”

A moving video with testimonials of anti-fascist solidarity from Turkish activists in the memory of Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas, slain by neonazis in Athens last month, was uploaded on YouTube, subtitled in Greek. The video was set to a dirge written by Turkish composer Zülfü Livaneli and Greek lyricist Lefteris Papadopoulos, and performed by famous Greek singer and political Maria Farandouri, an icon of the struggle against the Greek military junta in the late 60′s.

Sponsored post

June 22 2013

Censorship and Police Brutality Mark Three Weeks of Turkish Protests

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

It's been three weeks since massive protests started across Turkey. Since their start on May 31, the country has witnessed media censorship, police brutality, protests by the thousands and the deaths and injury of protestors. Here is the summary of past three weeks:

In the early stages of the demonstrations, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defined protesters as “Capulcu“, which translates to looters from Turkish. This action backfired when protesters embraced the label. Protesters even made a music video by changing the lyrics of the song “Everyday I am Shuffling” to sound “Everyday I am Capulcuing”:

Media Censorship:

Even though Turkish mainstream media self-censored the protests, social media was active and is still active in covering the protests. CNNTurk, NTV and Haberturk (the main news channels of Turkey) were all involved in self-censorship. After CNNTurk published a documentary about penguins instead of covering the protests, Twitter user emre erdem tweeted [tr] with sarcasm:

@emreerdem Memlekwt yerinden oynuyor CNNTURK'te penguen belgeseli var, medyamizi seveyim…

The whole country is shaking, but there is a documentary about penguins on CNNTurk. Love our media…

The protests against media censorship continued in front of the NTV headquarters, since the station chose to play down the anti-government protests. Its partner company, Garanti Bank, which is a national bank, was targeted by protesters too – many of whom stopped using its services. The bank announced it had lost around 1,500 customers.

And recently, BBC suspended its cooperation with NTV, after the latter refused to air their programme “World Agenda”.

The programme was prepared by Selin Girit, who tweeted:

@selingiritBBC suspends partnership with Turkish news channel @ntv over television censorship on a piece about press freedom. @bbcworld@bbcturkce

Seven Turkish newspaper ran the same headline on the protests. Photograph shared by @ozlemmisler on Twitter

Seven Turkish newspaper ran the same headline on the protests. Photograph shared by @ozlemmisler on Twitter

There were also some interesting coincidences in the Turkish media's coverage of the protests. Seven different newspapers had the same headline on the same day. Twitter user Ozlem Isler shared a photograph of the newspapers:

@ozlemmisler 7 gazete ayni manset!

Seven newspapers, same headlines!

Police Brutality:

Police brutality was the biggest concern of protesters. A video of policemen detaining a protestor showing on-lookers trying to protect the protestor by throwing whatever they could find on the policemen draws home the sentiment many harbour against police heavy-handedness. Here is the video:

Twitter user Capulcu S A explains the togetherness of the nation against police brutality:

@Sedat2Aral Never been like this… Doctors, Journos, students, artists, actors, business men…all turkey helping each other against Police brutality.

Ethem Sarisuluk's death after being shot by police was certainly the most heartbreaking moment of the protests. The policeman, who killed the protestor, is still missing. Sarisuluk was among four people killed and around 5,000 injured during the protests. The mayor of Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, said on a live TV show [tr] that it wasn't the police who killed him; that it was the other protesters, who killed him by throwing a rock at him. This video, which appeared online following the death, tells a different story. It shows a policeman running away with a gun, after what appears to be shooting a protestor at close range [Warning: graphic]:

You can learn more about police brutality during the protests here.

Social Media: “The Worst Menace to Society”

In return, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan vented off his anger at social media and called it “worst menace to society“. Twitter user Pelin explains the reason behind Erdogan's anger by sharing the Bloomberg report about Twitter usage in Turkey during protests:

@BettySpades Data shows why Twitter is a menace to Erdogan. Impact of social media on the gezi protests: #occupygezi#direnankara …


Erdogan was also angry at the protesters who took shelter in a mosque during the police attacks. He told media that protesters dishonored the mosque by entering it with their shoes on, and that they drank alcohol in the mosque. This video here shows the opposite of what Tayyip Erdogan said. In the video, protesters are seen taking refuge in the mosque, with doctors treating injured people (Warning: graphic video):

Contradicting Messages:

Huseyin Avni Mutlu, the governor of Istanbul, also gave contradicting messages. On his Twitter account, he wrote there will not be any attacks on Gezi Park, where the protests began, by the police. Just hours later, the police attacked Gezi Park:

@Valimutlu GEZİ PARKI ve TAKSİM’e KESİNLİKLE DOKUNULMAYACAK,SİZLERE ASLA DOKUNULMAYACAKTIR.Bu sabah ve bundan sonra polis kardeşlerinize emanetsiniz.

Gezi Park and Taksim will not be touched, nobody will touch you. You are entrusted to your police brothers since this morning and henceforth.

Twitter user Utangac Adam replied to the governor:

@UtangacAdam Büyüklerimiz “İnsanlığın okulu yok” derdi.Şimdi ne demek istediklerini daha iyi anlıyorum… @Valimutlu

Our elders would always say “There is no school for learning humanity”. Now, I understand them better…

Prime minister Erdogan arranged several rallies for his supporters, including in Ankara and Istanbul. Erdogan threatened the protesters to clear Gezi Park by calling them terrorists. After his statement on clearing the Gezi Park from protesters, Turkish police attacked Gezi Park on June 16, and took control over Taksim Square and Gezi Park.

Passive Resistance: Standing Man Protests

Now the protests have turned into a passive resistance. The Duran Adam (Standing Man) protests started by a performance artist, Erdem Gunduz, who stood at Taksim Square without moving for three hours. Similar protests spread quickly all over the country.  Poet Bejan Matur said on her Twitter account:

@bejanmatur duran adam;tc tarihinin gördüğü en sofistike eylem;.iktidarın asla baş edemeyeceği şahane bir performans.

Standing Man is the most sophisticated protest in the history of Turkish Republic. A great performance that the ruling party cannot deal with, ever.

Turkish people showed their desire for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation over the last three weeks. Even though the policemen were fierce, politicians were angry and the media was silent, they continued on their journey for a better life. Perhaps this video of protesters cheering sarcastically for more teargas to be thrown on them by the police speaks volumes of their ambition for a better country and a better tomorrow:

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.

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.

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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 29 2013

Spain: Catalonia's “Declaration of Sovereignty” Translated into 36 Languages

On January 23, 2013, amid rising tensions with the Spanish government, the regional parliament of Catalonia approved by majority vote a Declaration of Sovereignty [ca] — seen widely as a prelude to a referendum on independence, expected to be held by 2014. Thanks to a diverse team of collaborators, the online Catalan-language publication Vilaweb [ca] has been able to publish the document in thirty-six languages.

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.”

August 11 2012

Cyprus: Remembering ‘Operation Atilla' Across Borders

Friday, 20 July 2012, marked the 38th anniversary of Operation Atilla, a Turkish military invasion in response to a coup in Cyprus supported by the 1967 Greek military junta.

The invasion resulted in deaths and missing reports of thousands, massive deportations of Greek Cypriots from the occupied northern part and flow of Turkish Cypriots from south to north. The island has been divided since along the Green Line; in 1983 the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus(TRNC) declared independence, but it is only recognized by Turkey.

Both sides commemorate the anniversary either as a grim day or a celebration day; and every year, sentiments and events are shared through mainstream and social media.

The island of Cyprus, divided, from Wikimedia Commons, original source: CIA World Factbook. Public domain.

In a speech on Thursday night, Greek-Cypriot President Christofias said:

Vindication can only happen with the end of the Turkish occupation and settling, and the reunification of the state and its people. […] If there is partition in Cyprus, this will be a victory of our country’s enemies.

On the northern part, hundreds of Turkish Cypriots gathered to celebrate the day as the “Peace Operation”. Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said:

Greek Cypriots should “use common sense” and work towards finding a solution. […] Community is running out of patience and steps to take their place in the world will be “taken as needed”. […] If there was no “peace operation”, they would not have their state today.

@Infognomon Politika, a news blog focused on International Relations, Foreign Policy and Defense, dedicated a post [el] about the 1974 obscure events, entitled “Cyprus 1974: Five Myths About the Coup d' Etat”.

Haberler website published the news for “Peace and Freedom Festival” and Turkish President Gul's statement that:

[…] the Cyprus Peace Operation that occurred July 20, 1974 marked the beginning of Turkish Cypriots governing themselves and Turkey will always support them.

On Twitter, Greek netizens expressed their sadness for the day, with tweets such as the following, by Greek-Cypriot singer Despina Olympiou [el]:

@DenaOlympiou: Ωραία όλα, αλλα σαν σήμερα να μην ξεχνάμε τη θλιβερή επέτειο του νησιού μας. Κύπρος μου δεν σε ξεχνούμε κ ελπίζουμε..

All fine, but today let's not forget the sad anniversary of our island. My Cyprus, we don't forget you and we hope…

Lampros Konstantaras overreacts citicizing [el] the “invasion” and big popularity of Turkish daily TV series on Greek TV channels contrary to the sad anniversary:

38 χρόνια φέτος που η Κύπρος υποφέρει από την τουρκική εισβολή. Νεκροί, αγνοούμενοι, ξεσπιτωμένοι. Δείτε SILA και ΑSI για να τους τιμάτε

38 years now Cyprus suffers by Turkish invasion. Dead, missing, deported people. Watch SILA and ASI and [that's how you] honor them

A Few Turkish netizens also commented on the 1974 anniversary with tweets like the following [tr]:

@zeynepgurcanli: Bugun 20 temmuz. Kibris baris harekatinin yildonumu.

Today 20th of July. Anniversary Peace Operation in Cyprus.

There was also a Twitter dispute between some Greek netizens that summarizes perfectly the different thoughts and feelings on the 1974 event [el]:

@potmos: 38 σήμερα από την απελευθέρωση της Β. Κύπρου.

38 today from the liberation of N. Cyprus.

@adiasistos: @potmos Ποια απελευθέρωση ρε κοπρίτη; Εξυπνάδες είναι αυτά; Η Κύπρος είναι Ελληνικιά κ άμα δε γουστάρεις τράβα στη Κούβα! Ζώο!

Which “liberation”, you scum? Is this smart or something? Cyprus is Greek, if you don't like it, go to Cuba!

@arhetypo: @adiasistos @potmos και ποιοι είστε που θ'αποφασίσετε αν η Β.Κύπρος είναι απελευθερομένη η Ελληνική, ρωτήσατε τους Κύπριους;;

And who are you to decide if Northern Cyprus is liberated or Greek, have you asked the Cypriots?

@djidjikas: @adiasistos και όμως έχω την αίσθηση ότι τουρκοκύπριοι και ελληνοκύπριοι ζούσαν ειρηνικά σε κοινά χωριά για αιώνες… @potmos

And I still have the feeling that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots were living peacefully together on the same villages for centuries…

@MrPinkEyesV2: @potmos αν απελευθερωνοταν καλα θα ήταν. Στην καλυτερη άλλαξε νταβατζη

If it was liberated, it would be fine. Best case scenario, the only thing that changed is the pimp.

January 20 2012

Turkey: Post-Murder Trial, Thousands March for Hrant Dink

Thousands have marched in Turkey to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist and Agos newspaper editor Hrant Dink. Angering Turkish nationalists with his outspoken position that the 1915 massacre and deportation of as many as 1.5 million ethnic Armenians constituted genocide, Dink was shot dead outside his office in Istanbul on 19 January 2007.

His killer, Ogun Samast, was jailed last year, but the end this week of the trial of others involved continues to leave many questions relating to official involvement in the assassination unanswered. Writing on Critical Legal Thinking, Basak Ertür provides a comprehensive background to the case as well as the events leading up to Dink's death.

Hrant Dink’s murder was the culminating point of a persecution campaign that can be traced back to February 2004, when he published claims to the effect that Sabiha Gökçen, the adopted daughter of Atatürk and the first woman war pilot of the Turkish Republic, was of Armenian descent. Dink’s claim provoked a public statement from the Chief of Staff, the highest echelon of the Turkish army. A few days later he was summoned to the Istanbul Governor’s Office and “warned” by two people who were introduced to him as “friends” of the then Deputy Governor. Three and a half years after the assassination, the Intelligence Service admitted that these two people were its operatives.


[…] The deep state lurks menacingly behind the innumerable assassinations, disappearances, provocations, threats, disinformation campaigns, psychological operations and dirty deals of the past few decades. Though providing much fodder for what can be dismissed as conspiracy theorising, the very style and structure of deep state plots render them almost immediately recognisable to a public that has become all too familiar with them. Hrant Dink’s assassination was instantly widely recognised as one such plot.

Certain pieces of information that surfaced during the trial corroborated this view. One of the defendants testified that in his capacity as a police informant, he had repeatedly warned the security forces of the plan to assassinate Dink in the months leading to his death. Some documentary evidence supported the claim that the police was informed of the plan as early as eleven months before the assassination. Key defendants were remarkably smug during the hearings, occasionally signalling, though never disclosing their deeper connections.


This is what Fethiye Çetin, the lawyer representing the Dink family, meant when she spoke after the decision, referring to the case as a comedy: “They’ve been mocking us all along. And today, we saw that they saved the punch-line for the end.”

Nevertheless, if Dink was loathed by Turkish nationalists, he was also disliked by their counterparts in Armenia and its large Diaspora. Also calling for reconciliation and brotherhood between Armenians and Turks, it's therefore perhaps no wonder that most of those protesting the outcome of the trial as well as commemorating yesterday's anniversary were Turks, Kurds and Armenians living in Turkey.

@UtkuCakir: İnsanlık ölmemiş… Agos'un önünde görmüşler - Fotoğraf: Tolga Bozoğlu #kardesimsinhrant - Hrant Dink

Humanity has not died… In front of Agos #you'remybrotherhrant

@BerxwedanYARUK: Ankara da Hrant Dink anması

Hrant Dink commemoration in Ankara

Erkan Saka, a Turkish academic and blogger, posts some of the many updates and photos sent out on Twitter in Turkish. However, there were also updates, with some translation into English, from commemorative marches throughout Turkey.

@umitalan: Taksim'le Agos arasında müthiş bır kalabalık var. Devlete, yargıya ve tüm katillerine en ıyi cevap bu. Bu dava burada bitmeyecek.

There is a huge crowd between Taksim and Agos. This is the best answer to the state, prosecution and all criminals. This struggle will not end here.

@449981: CNNTurk 30 bin kişi oldugunu soyledi şimdi.yayını taksimden yapıyorlardı galiba,grubun en arkası gözüküyordu roportaj yaptıkları yerden.

CNNTurk just reported that there are 30,000 people. Looks like they're showing footage from Taksim. […]

@pinarinfanta: Belki de içimi en çok burkan ayakkabısının altındaki delikti,sessizce kaldırımda yatıyordu..suçu sadece ‘Ermeni' olmaktı #kardesimsinhrant

Perhaps the most heart wrenching [image] was the hole in his shoe. He was silently lying there on the ground… His only guilt was that he was “Armenian”. #you'remybrotherhrant

@ETemelkuran: 2nd march in Istanbul today for #hrantdink case.1st one gathered thousands, ppl r gathering again. via@efkanbolac

@ETemelkuran: One of the most prominent writers Vedat Türkali joined the protests for #hrantdink today. via @mungan_murathan

@ETemelkuran: The protest in Bodrum tdy.In several cities ppl protested the unjust verdict in #hrantdink case via @beynigezmelerde

@ETemelkuran: Ppl of Istanbul r gathering to protest the unjust closure of #hrantdink case for the 2nd time today. The morning march was thousands.

@ETemelkuran: The march is begining inIstanbul.Ppl chanting:”Long live the brotherhood of the peoples!” #hrantdink via@efkanbolac

@ETemelkuran: The streets of İstanbul city centre is shaking with slogans for #hrantdink! via @efkanbolac

@ETemelkuran: The march in Ankara. After thousands gathered in Istanbul for #hrantdink now it is Ankara's turn. via @matakanfoca

@techsoc: I keep thinking: This huge march symbolizes everything Hrant was. Such a shame that it was only his death that brought it about.

@techsoc: Here's a photo of Hrant's dead body. My grandma said: “I cried for days. Who could kill a man with holes in his shoes?”

@ETemelkuran: There was a whole under his shoe when #hrantdink was shot.pic shows”the crack in the justice system” via@denizmistepe

Başka simply posted the statement in Turkish by ethnic Armenian journalist and writer Karin Karakaşlı made at the commemoration.

19 Ocak bir anma günü değil. Hiçbir zaman da olmadı. Zaten bu topraklarda ayrı ayrı yaşatılmış ne kadar acı varsa, hiçbirinin anma günü olmadı. Herkes acısının yaşatıldığı o tarih geldiğinde, kendince, bir başına kahroldu.


Dosya kapandı diyorlar bize. Kapandı mı bu dosya? Hrant Dink dosya değil ki kapatasın, o bir yara… Artık köprüden önceki son çıkıştayız. Oradan hakkıyla geçmeden tamamlanacak ödeşme, kurulacak düş, inanılacak adalet, yaşanacak memleket yok. Öbür türlüsü sadece yalan olur ve bir gün başımıza yıkılır. Altında kalırız hep birlikte.

O yüzden gün, sadece söz söylemek değil söz vermek zamanı.

Söz verelim mi birbirimize? Bu dava daha bitmedi.

Söz verelim mi birbirimize? İnsanlık daha ölmedi.

Söz verelim mi birbirimize? Devlet daha hesabını vermedi.

Sözümüz söz olsun. Bu adaletsizlikle yaşamak hepimize haramdır. Aksi için uğraşan hepimize helal olsun.

19 January is not a comemmoration day. It has never been. There has never been a comemmoration day for every other single pain caused in these lands. Everyone lived the pain alone in the period when it was caused, everyone suffered by themselves.


The dossier has been closed, we are told. Is this dossier closed? Hrant Dink is not a dossier to be closed. He is a wound. We are in the one but last exit before the bridge. There is no score to settle, no hope to harbour, no justice to believe in, no country to live in until you cross it properly. Any other way would be a lie and one day will come upon us. We will stay under the heaviness of it.

This is why it is time to make a promise, not to simply say we will.

Shall we make a promise to each other that this struggle has not ended.

Shall we make a promise to each other that the humanity has not died.

Shall we make a promise to each other that the state is yet to account.

We promise. Living with this injustice is forbidden for all of us. Be blessed all who struggle otherwise.

Judging from the commemorations in Istanbul and elsewhere, as well as from prominent figures and online commentary in Turkey, many appear to agree.

Global Voices Azerbaijan author Pervin Muradli provided the translations from Turkish into English for this post.

January 18 2012

Turkey: Hrant Dink Murder Trial Ends

Five years and 25 hearings later, the trial to convict those responsible for the murder of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist, has come to a close. The gunman, 17-year-old Ogün Samast, as well as over a dozen others accused of involvement in the gunning down of Dink in Istanbul in January 2007, were caught almost immediately afterwards. However, according to Dink's family, friends and lawyers, the case is linked to Turkey's so-called deep state structures and the real perpetrators, meaning those who masterminded the crime, have not been brought to justice.

While Samast was sentenced to 22 years in prison last year, yesterday's verdict, which ruled that three other defendants did not act as part of a criminal organization, but rather as individuals, was a disappointment they long saw coming. From the pre-hearing statement of the group called “Hrant's Friends” to the lawyer's statement after the verdict, and throughout a procession from the Beşiktaş Court House to Agos, the newspaper Dink edited, for a vigil, one sentiment stood out. Journalist Yavuz Baydar summed up their feelings.

@yavuzbaydar: Dink davasına doğru, yolda. Karar çıkacak herhalde, ama bu dava bitmeyecek.

On my way to the court. Seems like a verdict will be issued today, but this trial will not end here.

Indeed, the same sentiment was also echoed in chants and placards. Çiğdem Mater tweeted a photo:

@cigdemmater: Mahkemeye yuruyoruz: oldur diyenler yargilansin #hrantdink

We are walking to the court: (the chant is) indict those who ordered the murder.

Mehmet Demir also tweeted a photo from in front of the court where Hrant Dink's widow Rakel Dink was among those standing behind the banner:

@memediko: 5. Yılında, 25. duruşmasında Hrant için, adalet için Beşiktaş Adliyesindeyiz…

On the 5th year and 25th hearing, we are at the Beşiktaş Court House for Hrant and for justice.

Another person for who seemed to anticipate the verdict was lawyer Efkan Bolaç.

@efkanbolac: Hrant icin Beşiktaş adliyesine gelinsin ancak adalet icin Beşiktaş adliyesine gelinmesin. Bugün adalet tam tecelli etmeyecek.

Come to the court today for Hrant, but not for justice. Justice will not be fulfilled today.

The group calling themselves “Hrant's Friends” made a statement before the hearing began. The video segment above contains footage of crowds walking towards the court house and chanting several slogans. The statement at 2:19 reads:

We know how they will decide. This is the state's decision, including its security forces, gendarmerie, intelligence, judiciary, media, government, opposition, those who decided to take Hrant away from us 5 years ago will make another decision today saying this was the work of a few hoods. They will try to hide in their dark world. How can they do this? We know who they are. There is something they don't know: before we say it is over, this trial is not over.

Some attending the trial also tweeted from inside the court. Özlem Dalkıran of the Hrant Dink Foundation, for example, quoted the lawyers for the prosecution.

@OzlemDalkiran: Kamu görevlilerinin kapsamlı soruşturmaya tabi tutulmasını defalarca talep etmemize rağmen bu talebimiz karşılanmadı #HrantDink

Our continuous demands for a comprehensive investigation of public officials as part of this case have not been met.

Efkan Bolaç also tweeted a part of their statement mentioning other similar cases in Turkey:

@efkanbolac: Rahip santaro ve zirve yayıncı cinayetinde bu örgütün eylemleri arasındadır. Devlet görevlileri bu davada dosyaya eklenememistir

Priest Santaro and Zirve Publishing House murders are among the actions of this organization. Public officials have not been included in this trial's file.

Bolaç also considered that the question of whether the crime was organized or not would have an impact on the sentence of the killer.

@efkanbolac: Eğer htant dink cinayeti örgütlü halde işlenmişse bu durum agirlastirici sebep olacaktır.

If the Hrant Dink murder was perpetrated by an organized group it will mean aggravated circumstance.

@efkanbolac: davada eğer suc örgütünün varlığı kabul edilip sanıklar örgüt üyeliğinden ceza alırsa karar cocuk Mah.De yargılanan samast'i da etkileyecek

If the existence of a criminal organization is affirmed in this case and the accused are sentenced under that crime, this will affect (the shooter) Ogün Samast, who is being tried at a children's court.

With journalist Yavuz Baydar tweeting that it would be a surprise if no verdict was announced, the Friends of Hrant then announced that whatever the outcome they would organize a procession to where Dink was shot.

@hrantinarkdslri: Bir saat ara verildi. Ardindan karar aciklanacak. Karardan sonra Besiktas'tan Agos'a yuruyoruz!

An hour long break, then the verdict will be announced. After the verdict we will be walking from Beşiktaş to Agos.

There has also been online and offline mobilization for a protest-walk from Istanbul's Taksim Square to the Agos newspaper on Thursday 19 January, the 5th anniversary of Dink's murder, as columnist Hilal Kaplan tweeted.

@hilal_kaplan: Hrant Dink suikasti davasından ne karar çıkarsa çıksın, adalet çıkmayacağını biliyoruz. Perşembe günü 13′te Taksim'den Agos'a yürüyoruz.

Whatever comes out of the Hrant Dink murder trial, we know it won't be justice. We will be walking from Taksim to Agos on Friday at 13.00

Waiting for the verdict in what was reported to be a packed courtroom, Özlem Dalkıran agreed:

@OzlemDalkiran: Bekliyoruz. Verilecek karar devletin kararı olacak, bizim degil. Biz #HrantDink in gercek katillerini buluncaya kadar pesindeyiz davamızın.

We are waiting. It will be the state's verdict, not ours. We will be chasing this case until Hrant Dink's real murderers are found.

Finally the verdict was read aloud and simultaneously tweeted.

@_chiquitita_: Osman Hayal beraat. Erhan Tuncel orgut lliderliiginden beraat. #hrantdink

Both Osman Hayal and Erhan Tuncel have been acquitted on the counts of membership of criminal organization, Tuncel having been accused of being the leader.

@cigdemmater: Tutuksuz yargılananlar da terör örgütüne yardımdan beraatine

Defendants who were being tried without detention have been acquitted on the count of aiding a terrorist organization.

@cigdemmater: Salih hacisalihoglu ruhsatsız silahdan 2 ay 15 gün

Salih Hacısalihoğlu is convicted to 2 months 15 days on possession of unlicenced gun.

@cigdemmater: Ahmet İskender ruhsatsız silahdan 10 ay

Ahmet İskender is sentenced to 10 months on the possession of an unlicensed gun.

@cigdemmater: Yasin hayalin Orhan pamuğu tehditten 3ay hapsine

Yasin Hayal is sentenced to 3 months on the count of threatening Orhan Pamuk.

@cigdemmater: Yasin hayal tasarlanmış adam öldürmeye azmettirmekten agirlastirilmis muebbetine

Yasin Hayal is sentenced to life sentence in solitary confinement with no possiblity of parole on the count of soliciting voluntary manslaughter.

@cigdemmater: Erhan Tuncel Mcdonakdsa dahilinden 10 yıl altı ay hapsine

Erhan Tuncel is sentenced to 10 years and 6 months on being involved in the bombing of the McDonald's in Trabzon.

Journalist Şirin Payzin offered their own interpretation of the verdict:

@siring: Örgüt yok demekle aslında sanık avukatlarının savunmaları kabul edilmiş oldu. Yani cinayeti bu isimler kendi kafalarına göre işlediler.

By denying the existence of organized crime, in a way the defense of the accused was affirmed. So it is as if these people committed the murder out of their own whim.

A press statement outside of the court from the Dink family lawyer Fethiye Çetin immediately followed.

Five years have passed since the murder. (His son) Arat had said they are making fun of us. They've saved the best for last, and we learned that today. It appears Hrant Dink was killed not by planned action but by a few hoodlums. Apparently there is no organization here. We did not expect this much, truly. What does this verdict mean? It means a deep tradition is not broken, and it is not allowed to be broken. This is the state's tradition of political murders, excluding its minorities and making enemies out of them - today's verdict affirms this tradition once again. Those who are extremely disturbed by the state becoming synonymous with adjectives such as the bomber of its own people, the perpetrator of massacres, arsonists, did not make any effort to get rid of these adjectives and turned down the opportunity. This trial was a chance to confront a history full of blood and pain, to cleanse, to say “never again” to murders like this, to democratize, but they did not use this chance. Those who were the “others” and the targets of the state, meaning the politicians and the ruling government of today, seem to have forged an alliance with the tradition that used to marginalize them. But they should know that unless the state is transformed, this alliance is temporary. […] Today, here, this verdict has closed the first phase where the murderers were tried, but this trial is not over. This is a farce, and for us this trial is only starting now. In this process of trying assassins a torch has been held to the darkness that has created killers out of babies. And the real culprits that had been trying to hide in that darkness have emerged. That is why this trial is only beginning now. There are many ways we can go and many areas we can use. We will use all of them with great determination, until the darkness is questioned, the culprits are convicted and we decide this trial has ended.

The crowd then started walking to Agos.

Hrant icin, adalet icin! #hrantdink

For Hrant, For justice.

Meanwhile, journalist Hanım Büşra Erdal summed up the outcome of the trial.

@busra_erdal: dink cinayetinde sadece yasin hayal ve ogün samast tutuklu kaldı. erhan tuncel tekirdağ cezaevinden tahliye ediliyor #hrantdink

Only Yasin Hayal and Ogün Samast are now in prison in the Dink murder case. Erhan Tuncel has been released from the Tekirdağ Prison, where he was during his trial for the past 5 years.

As of the evening of 17 January, the first reaction from the government side was from Ertuğrul Günay, Minister of Culture and Tourism. According to various news sources, Günay called the verdict “grave,” believing that it will now go to the Supreme Court of Appeals. The verdict, as well as the five-year long judicial process, will also likely remain on Turkey's agenda, but for now all eyes are on a march to mark the fifth anniversary of Dink's murder to be held on Thursday 19th January.

Attendance, which has been significant in the past, is likely to be an indicator of public support for any continuation of the case.

December 29 2011

Macedonia, Greece, Turkey: Bridging the Divides Through Multilingual Reporting

Two recent initiatives by civic-minded journalists added value to the e-content in local languages from Macedonia and nearby countries: Diversity Media is offering news analysis through text and audio podcasts in Macedonian and Albanian, and is enabling “peeking over the neighbors' fence” in Macedonian, Turkish, Greek, and English. The former also started a competition for news bloggers [mk, sq], ending Jan. 31.

October 24 2011

Turkey: Online Relief Efforts for Van's Earthquake Victims

Eastern Turkey was hit by a large earthquake of magnitude 7.2 yesterday. The earthquake, whose epicentre was about 16 km north of Van province, devastated the area where many buildings were demolished with many people buried under the ruins.

As the government of Turkey started the official relief efforts, many Turkish citizens both in the country and abroad showed interest in helping those effected on the ground. As a result, within a couple of hours after the earthquake several different campaigns were launched on social networks to help with rescue and relief operations.

One interesting campaign that quickly grabbed the attention of many on social media networks was “EvimEvindir”. The campaign was started by Turkish journalist Ahmet Tezcan when he declared on Twitter [tr] that he was ready to welcome a family which was left homeless due to the quake to his home:

Vanlı bir aileye evimi açmaya hazirim. Kamu kuruluşları bunu da organize etmeli!

I am ready to open my [door and] home to a family from Van. Public institutions should organise this as well!

Ahmet Tezcan continued to promote the idea and soon another Turkish journalist Erhan Çelik started promoting the campaign strongly. In a couple of hours, hundreds of tweets and thousands of e-mails were received by the two journalists regarding the campaign and Erhan Çelik mentioned his thanks for the attention [tr]:

Mail kutumda 17 bin mail var. Bunlardan ilgili olanları İstanbul Valiliğine iletiyorum. İlginize depremzedeler adına çok teşekkürler!

There are 17,000 e-mails in my inbox. I am transferring interested parties to Governorship of Istanbul. On behalf of earthquake victims; thanks a lot for your interest!

Soon two new hashtags “#EvimEvindir” [“#MyHouseIsYourHouse” in Turkish] and “#EvimEvindirVan” spread in Turkey and a new website for the campaign was set up at Ahmet Tezcan reported that Governorship of Istanbul had stepped in to help the campaign:

İstanbul Valimiz H.Avni Mutlu #EvimEvindirVan kampanyasindan haberdar edildi. Çok sevindi. Gerekenin yapilmasi icin talimat verecektir!

The Governor of Istanbul H. Avi Mutlu has been informed of #EvimEvindirVan campaign. He was very happy. He will be giving instructions to carry out what’s necessary.

According to the campaign's website, the Governorship of Istanbul is now the coordinator of the campaign to locate and connect families from Istanbul to families in the earthquake zone.

Another campaign that was launched on Twitter and gained support via the hashtag “#HaydiGsmciler” [“#ComeOnGsmOps” in Turkish] called on the three leading GSM operators in Turkey, namely Turkcell, Vodafone Turkey, and Avea, to provide free minutes to its customers in the earthquake zone, as it is expected that many victims who were buried alive under the rubble would attempt to use their cell phones to contact for help. Journalist Erhan Çelik avidly promoted this campaign, posting [tr]:

GSM şirketleri de üzerine düşeni yapsın! Deprem bölgesinde kontörlü hatlar ücretsiz olsun, mağdurlar rahatça konuşsun! #HaydiGsmciler

GSM Operators should do their part as well! Prepaid lines in earthquake zone should be free [of any charge for transactions], so that victims can talk freely! #HaydiGsmciler

Soon after the hashtag was launched, all three leading GSM operators declared that they would be providing free minutes to their customers in Van, which had suffered losses due to earthquake. Both Turkcell and Avea reported [tr] this news through their official Twitter accounts respectively as follows:

Van'da bulunan ön ödemeli müşterilerimize her yönü arayabilecekleri 100 dk. ücretsiz konuşma süresi ve 100 kısa mesaj (SMS) yüklenecektir

Our prepaid customers in Van will be provided with 100 free minutes and 100 short messages (SMS) available to use for all calls.

Van'da yaşanan felaket nedeniyle bölgede bulunan tüm Avealı'lara her yöne kullanabilecekleri 100dk konuşma ve 100 sms tanımlanmıştır #van

Due to the disaster that occurred in Van, all Avea customers in the regions are given 100 free minutes and 100 SMS available to use for all calls. #van

A few hours after the earthquake, several activist bloggers created a blog, named “Yalnız Değilsin Van” [“You are not Alone Van” in Turkish], to provide information on contact and coordination points for relief efforts in the earthquake zone. Heavily promoted in the blogosphere and Twitter, the blog describes itself as:

This page has been created to keep track of, gather and post updates on the relief efforts towards the 2011 Van Earthquake, including transportation of aid, coordination numbers and a continuously updated list of goods and equipment in demand

The blog contains information in both Turkish and English and also has a Facebook page called: “Van’la Dayanışma” [“Solidarity with Van” in Turkish].

One last addition to web-based help to relief efforts for the victims of the Van earthquake came from Google in the form of Google Person Finder which was activated in Turkish. Zeynep Tüfekçi reported this as:

Google Person Finder now up in Turkish for the Van earthquake:

Thumbnail image is a screenshot from

July 24 2011

Turkey: Ethnic Tension Rises Further as Street Clashes Erupt in Istanbul

In the aftermath of a clash between army and separatist Kurdish PKK militants which claimed the lives of over a dozen from both sides earlier this month, ethnic tension in Turkey continues to grow. Marches in the already tense Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul broke out into larger scale street fighting on the night of 21st July 2011, when ultra-nationalist Turkish groups marched to the pro-PKK BDP party office and attempted to attack it. Police were deployed and after a few hours of clashes, were able take control of the area. Social media played a large role both in the making and in the reporting of the incident as many of the marchers organised themselves through social networks, such as Facebook.

One of the Facebook pages used to gather more people on the way for the march to BDP office in the night of 21st July was 58 bulvar zeytinburnu. A Youtube video showing the ultra-nationalist marchers shouting “Martyrs can be Never Dead! Homeland can Never be Divided!” in the streets of Zeytinburnu was posted earlier on the page:

This particular video garnered over a hundred “like”s and comments; some supporting, some denouncing.

After the incident, another Facebook page “Zeytinburnu Mehmetçikleri” (i.e. “Zeytinburnu Soldiers”) was created and garnered over 6000 “like”s within a day. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s saying, “Ne Mutlu Türküm diyene” (“How happy is the one who says ‘I am Turk’”) was used in many of the comments on the page.

Despite some news agencies later reporting that the ultra-nationalist march was spontaneous, videos of the march captured by eyewitnesses show an organised march, with large Turkish flags and music; such as the following by ozanisildar:

Nevertheless, İclal Turan who was present at the clashes stated [tr] that the march didn’t look spontaneous to her:

haberlerde genellikle “bdp'lilere tepki gösteren mahalleli” diyor ama bnm sokaklarda gördüğüm organize olmuş ülkücü bir grup

“in news they have generally stated that [marchers were] ‘town folk reacting to BDP supporters’, but what I saw in the streets was an organised Ülkücü [ultra-nationalist] group.”

She also mentioned [tr] the events in Zeytinburnu having started three days ago and has been on-going since then:

zeytinburnu'ndaki olaylar 3 gün önce bdp'lilerin mahalede çöpleri yakıp evleri taşlaması ile başladı, sonra ülkücüler ayaklandı hala sürüor.

Events in Zeytinburnu started 3 days ago with BDP supporters burning trash [cans] and stoning houses, then Ülkücü’s rose up [and] it is still going on.

Photographs of the events, shot by Ferdi Türk, show that most in the ultra-nationalist crowd had sticks:

Ultra-nationalist crowd with sticks

Ultra-nationalist crowd with sticks, Istanbul, Turkey. Image by Twitpic user @ferditurk

Ultra-nationalist crowd marching, Istanbul, Turkey.

Ultra-nationalist crowd marching, Istanbul, Turkey. Image by Twitpic user @ferditurk

Apparently the crowd also attacked private property around the area in which they had gathered:

Stores, cars, and many other kinds of private property, around the area of the clashes, were damaged.

Stores, cars, and many other kinds of private property, around the area of the clashes, were damaged. Istanbul, Turkey. Image by Twitpic user @ferditurk

Alper Budka, a journalist who was at the scene of the incidents reported on Twitter [tr] that police were deployed to prevent clashes and the attacks:

Polis, kalabalığa biber gazıyla karşılık verdi. Bu sırada caddeye doğru bi havai fişek patladı. Vatandaşlar dükkanlara kaçıştı

Police responded to the crowd with pepper spray. At this moment a firework was thrown towards the [main] street. [Ordinary] Citizens ran away to stores.

He also mentioned [tr] that riot police were deployed:

Ardından 70-80 kişilik takviye çevik kuvvet ekibi geldi. Kalabalık dağılmıştı fakat biraz sonra yeniden aynı yerde toplandlar. Hala ordalar

Later on an additional 70-80 riot police arrived. Crowd were dispersed but they gathered again in the same spot shortly after. They are still there.

İclal Turan reported [tr] the use of pepper spray:

her şey bir yana polisin biber gazı kullandığı yer insanların akşam gezdiği, yürüdüğü bi yer. küçücük çocuklar gaza maruz kaldı, ağladılar!

In spite of everything, the place where police used pepper spray was somewhere people walk around, chill out at evenings. Small children were exposed to the gas, they cried!

A resident of Zeytinburnu, gregorumsamsam reported [tr] that police helicopters were patrolling the area once the crowds were dispersed:

Zeytinburnu'nda olaylar nihayet duruldu galiba. sadece devriye gezen helikopterlerin sesi var şu an.

Events in Zeytinburnu are finally over, [I] guess. There is only the sound of patrolling helicopters right now.

hty96, a Youtube user, posted a video of the clashes between some people from the crowd and the police:

As the clashes between pro-PKK Kurdish groups and ultra-nationalist Turkish groups have been going on in Zeytinburnu for days since the incident on the night of 21st July, some have blamed both sides for being manipulated to order to increase the ethnic tension in the country. Sinan Dirlik commented [tr]:

zeytinburnundan günlerdir içsavaş provası uğraşındaki türk ve kürt sersemler. yangın her yeri sardığında mı rahatlayacaksınız?

Turkish and Kurdish fools attempting a rehearsal for civil war in Zeytinburnu for days. Will you be relieved when fire has spread everywhere?

Some have claimed that regarding both sides equally liable is not fair in this situation. kafa_radyo said [tr], for example:

iki tarafa da esit mesafeli olalim demek erki elinde bulunduran ezileni yok etmesine zimnen ortak olmak anlamina geliyor.

saying “let’s be equidistant to both sides”, implicitly means complicity in destruction of the oppressed by the powerful.

Gülçin Avşar, criticising the general use of violence by different parties in Zeytinburnu, commented [tr]:

Zeytinburnu savaş alanına dönmüş.. Hâlâ yakıp yıkarak o çok mukaddes amaçlarına ulaşacaklarını düşünenlerin olması ne hazin…

Zeytinburnu was turned into a battlefield. How sad is that there are still some who believe they can achieve their oh so holy goals by vandalising, destroying…

There is still fear of more violence in Zeytinburnu and a lot of rumours, a resident gregorumsamsam commented [tr]:

bu arada söylentiler doğru ise bugün Zeytinburnu'da olaylar daha da büyüyecekmiş. bu sefer diğer ilçelerden bdp'liler geliyormuş.

If rumours are right, affairs in Zeytinburnu will grow even more. it is said that BDP supporters from other districts will be coming this time.

He also mentioned [tr] how many residents of the district are going away temporarily:

çoğu kişi diğer ilçelerdeki akrabalarına gidiyor. bir mal benim ya ben evde bekliyicem inadına. annemler bile gidiyor be.

Many people are going to their relatives in other districts. Being the only stupid I will stay at home, stubbornly. Even my mother [and family] are going.
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