Turkey Sees Protesters Rise Again

Protests were sparked again in Turkey when local government announced it was building a road through the campus of Middle Eastern Technical University in the capital city, Ankara. The proposed construction will destroy approximately 3,000 trees in the university campus and the parallels to Gezi Park, the first site of Turkey’s summer of discontent, are not difficult to draw.

Photo by MSNCC
Photo by MSNBC

Late May saw a broad opposition rise in Istanbul, and elsewhere, which was on the surface in defense of a public park but was also inspired by a sense of resentment at the AKP’s authoritarian style of governing. Tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons were all used against many unarmed protesters.

These measures were again used across the country from Taksim in Istanbul to Ankara to the Syrian border in the last three days.

22 year old Ahmet Atakan was killed while protesting in Antakya in the Hatay region near the Syrian border on Tuesday the 10th of September.

The police claim that Atakan fell from the roof of a building during the protests but his fellow protesters say that he was hit in the head with a canister of tear gas which the police were firing into the crowd. According to Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet:

“an initial medical report suggested that Atakan had received a blunt blow to the head consistent with a police gas canister. An initial autopsy also showed Atakan did not break his arms or legs in the incident, leading many to suspect he did not fall from a building.”

Six other protesters have been killed this summer in anti-government demonstrations. Medeni Yildirim (18), Ali Ismail Korkmaz (19), Mehmet Ayvalitas (20), Abdullah Cömert (22) and Ethem Sarısülük (26). One police officer has been killed, Mustafa Sarı, from falling from a bridge while pursuing fleeing protesters in Adana.

Last night in the Kadikoy neighbourhood of Istanbul protesters gathered to continue the protests and chanted slogans for the fallen activists. 

Daily Hürriyet reported“Police once again fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the group and chased protesters into the side streets. Some of the protesters have been detained… Social media users said many protesters were injured during the police intervention.” Kadikoy is a predominantly CHP supporting area. CHP are Ataturk’s party and are associated with nationalism and secularism. They were supporters of the protests in May.

“We are protesting the death of Ahmet. We won’t stop the resistance until there’s justice. The government knows we won’t give up, that’s why the police are here” one protester in his early 20s told Reuters last night in Kadikoy.

It is now only six months away from local elections in Turkey, a year away from presidential elections where Erdogan is expected to run and the next parliamentary elections are in 2015. AKP remain strong in central  and eastern Turkey with dissent occurring mostly on the Aegean coast, Istanbul and Ankara as the exception. It is too soon to say whether the summers riots will affect the elections.

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