On 16 June last year, the day after the 3-week-old and peaceful occupation of Gezi Park was forcibly ended in a hail of teargas, 14-year-old Berkin Elvan stepped out in his nearby neighbourhood to buy a loaf of bread and never came home. Instead, after being shot in the head with a teargas canister, he spent the next 9 months in a coma, turned 15 in January, and died Tuesday, 11 March. The tragic news of the belated victim of the 2013 protests — internationally condemned for excessive use of teargas by the police — brought on nationwide mourning and further protests. Over two days and across 53 provinces, some two million people marched in anger and grief. Likewise, similar outpourings took place place across the world in demonstrations from London to Washington. On 12 March, the funeral procession looked like this as it passed through Şişli in İstanbul:
On the day before, when Berkin passed away, the elected 60-year-old Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stayed silent. True to form, it was no different from his reaction to the other well-documented Gezi fatalities. A stark contrast, by the way, to the glossy tears he shed live on TV for Esma, an Egyptian teenage girl killed during Morsi’s military-backed ouster. He said nothing the day Berkin Elvan died, but he passed comment the next day, the day of the funeral. It went like this: Continue reading “Killer On The Loose”
FOLLOWING ON FROM the recent incriminating report from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) comes Amnesty International’s detailed investigation into this year’s unprecedented anti-government demonstrations. Released early October & weighing in at over twice the size of the PHR study, Amnesty’s in-depth research on the protests that engulfed the country throughout June goes even further in presenting evidence to reach the same, yet necessary, conclusion. In a crack-ridden nutshell, the report — ‘Gezi Park Protests: Brutal Denial of the Right to Peaceful Assembly in Turkey‘ — affirms that government-backed human rights abuses took place on a massive scale. Across 72 pages, Amnesty documents the many victims of systematic violence at the hands of the state police, corroborating its case against the ruling party by making clear Turkey’s obligations, under both national & international law, to protect — not effectively crush — the basic democratic right to protest peacefully: Continue reading “Mass Torture On The Streets Of Turkey”
PROVOCATIVE. POWERFUL. INSPIRING. Just some of the many words that sum up “My Body, My Decision”, an online protest against the upcoming abortion bill, due to be presented to the Turkish parliament this month. With a comfortable majority in the house, the ruling Justice & Development Party — better known by its Turkish acronym, AKP — look set to pass their drastic cut on the time limit, in place since 1983, in which a woman can legally abort the foetus, from 10 weeks down to four.
Alongside the AKP’s rising no-holds barred approach to molding the nation — riding on the crest of their unprecedented 3rd term of office & much-touted “model democracy” for the Middle East — their latest crack at pleasing their core voter base (conservative / religious / Islamic / Islamist — take your pick) has brought a storm of idignation onto the streets, as well as online.
Entering the fray from the outset, one of the few independent news sources in Turkey, Bianet.org (who also report in English), kickstarted their own campaign of outrage with staff members scrawling their message to the AKP goverment across their own bodies & posting the rather creative results on their website. Sensing the mood, Bianet then opened their platform to the public: Continue reading “‘My Body, My Decision’”