Friday, June 21, 2013

Turkey's Protests End

Related: Turkey in Trouble 

The debate on the blogs is whether this is a CIA effort at regime change (not beyond the realm by any means) or a legitimate popular uprising. I usually tend to side on both, with the key determination being the amount of press coverage it gets in my Globe. The more it appears day after day, the more it's part of the agenda and likely suspicious. One day wonders and denigrating coverage of the participants is also a subtle signal that it is an unapproved protest. 

"Turkey’s leader meets with park protesters; Talks follow his ‘final warning’ to end occupation" by Elena Becatoros and Jamey Keaten |  Associated Press, June 14, 2013

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s prime minister met with representatives of antigovernment protesters early Friday but emerged with no clear resolution on how to end the occupation of a central Istanbul park that has become a flashpoint for the largest political crisis of his 10-year rule.

The talks between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the protesters were an effort to resolve a sit-in at Taksim Square’s Gezi Park without resorting to a police intervention.

Before the meeting, Erdogan had told the protesters he was giving them a ‘‘final warning’’ to leave the park. Although the post-midnight talks ended on what both sides indicated was a positive note, the possibility remained that the protesters would refuse to leave and the police would be sent in to clear them out.

That's what happened, and this whole thing was trickery on Erdogan's part. It bought time so the cops could get their raid ready. 

A violent police crackdown on May 31 against a small environmental protest aiming to prevent a development project at the park sparked protests that spread to dozens of cities across Turkey. Since then, hundreds and often thousands of people have set up camp in the park.

What is sad in my pos paper is the script is always the same. It's always some innocuous event that triggers these things, be it bus increases in Brazil or a fake Muslim movie video, etc, etc, etc.

The only conclusion one can draw is it is not this one event that triggered all this -- unless you want to believe the media that has lied to us so much.

The demonstrations have expanded into a broader protest against what many say is the prime minister’s increasingly authoritarian style and his perceived attempts to impose his religious and conservative views on a country with secular laws — charges Erdogan strongly rejects.

What I have noticed is that other than one lone reference, the Turkey war policy regarding Syria has not been mentioned as a cause. 

Nationwide, five people, including a police officer, have died and more than 5,000 protesters and 600 police have been reported injured in clashes.

Speaking after the overnight meeting, Huseyin Celik, spokesman for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, said construction work at the park would be frozen until a pending court decision is issued on whether the work is legal. A referendum could be held on the future of Gezi Park after that, he said.

Representatives from Taksim Solidarity, a group that has been organizing much of the activity in the Gezi occupation, said they had been promised the construction at the park would be frozen. They said they would take the meeting’s conclusions back to the protesters later Friday.

It was unclear what the response would be. Although Taksim Solidarity has emerged as the most high-profile group in the occupation, it does not speak for everyone camping in the park. Many say they have no affiliation to any group.

The prime minister had maintained a hard line against the demonstrations, angrily denouncing the protesters as looters and vandals. He has said the unrest was instigated by a variety of interests, including foreign media and interest rate lobbies intent on destroying Turkey’s reputation.

Could be, but why? You dragging your heels on the Syrian invasion and attack on Iran?

As Erdogan held talks in the capital, Ankara, Istanbul’s governor hosted a meeting through the night with any protesters who cared to join him at a cafe near Taksim Square — vowing to consult with them ‘‘until the morning if necessary’’ on finding a solution to the sit-in.

‘‘I hope this meeting will be a message to youngsters from different ages in Gezi Park ... we are trying to end this issue without [police] having to intervene,’’ Huseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters on the way in.

This is a deception.

In the park and on Taksim Square, thousands gathered in a peaceful, festive show of defiance earlier in the night, many dancing to tunes played on a grand piano delivered to the square on a truck.

Turkey's Occupy?

In Ankara, however, a demonstration by hundreds of protesters rallying in sympathy with the activists turned violent, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

We call them AGENT PROVOCATEURS! They give protesters a bad name, and who benefits?

On Thursday, Erdogan gave his starkest warning yet that the protests, which have trained an unflattering spotlight on his Islamic-rooted government, must end.

‘‘We have arrived at the end of our patience,’’ said Erdogan, who urged parents whose children were in the park to persuade them to leave.

Even as he's trying to talk to them.

Earlier this week, riot police armed with tear gas, water cannon and plastic bullets moved into Taksim Square and cleared it of protesters and banners in a day-long operation as groups of demonstrators fought back with stones, firebombs, bottles, and fireworks.

Although the vast majority of the thousands camping in the park have been peaceful, police fired dozens of rounds of tear gas among the tents. Volunteers at a makeshift infirmary said hundreds were treated for injuries or the effects of tear gas.

And the U.S. is basically silent. Hmmmmm.  I guess Turkey isn't Iran.


"Park activists urged to leave; Turkish PM gives ‘final warning’" by Elena Becatoros |  Associated Press, June 14, 2013

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s prime minister urged a small delegation of protesters on Friday to persuade hundreds of others occupying an Istanbul park to withdraw.

Turkish activists leading a sit-in were considering a promise by Recep Tayyip Erdogan to let the courts and a potential referendum decide the fate of the much-despised Gezi Park redevelopment project — a plan that has sparked Turkey’s biggest protests in decades. The pledge was made during last-ditch negotiations after Erdogan had issued a ‘‘final warning’’ to protesters.

The two-week standoff has damaged Erdogan’s international reputation and led to repeated interventions by riot police.

After initially inflaming tensions by dubbing the protesters ‘‘terrorists,’’ the prime minister has moderated his stance in closed-door talks over the last few days.

But Erdogan told party members Friday that the protesters in the park had ‘‘stayed long enough.’’

“‘Go and speak to them . . . . Don’t let us be forced into reverting to different measures,’’’ Erdogan said he had told the protestors’ representatives.

So all that talk was just a bunch of Turkish hot air.

Earlier in the day, Erdogan’s ruling party announced the government would suspend its plan to cut down trees in Gezi Park and install a replica Ottoman barracks until the courts could rule on its legality.

And even if the courts side with the government, a city referendum would be held to determine the plan’s fate, officials said.

It remained far from clear, however, whether the overtures would work.

Erdogan has pledged to end the two-week protest but has also urged his supporters to rally in Ankara and Istanbul this weekend. Those demonstrations could raise tension between his conservative Islamic base and the park occupants, who are mostly, but not all, liberal- and secular-minded.

Okay, now his is key. The liberal and secular-minded are usually tools of intelligence agencies. Could this possibly be an attempt by the CIA to encourage the Turkish military to take over in a coup (it wouldn't be the first time for Turkey)?

The Taksim Solidarity group, two of whose members were in the meeting with Erdogan, has emerged as the most high-profile from the occupation that began last month. But it does not speak for all of the hundreds camping in the park, many of whom claim no affiliation to any group.

Bilge Seckin, a member of the umbrella group, said discussions about Erdogan’s initiative were continuing, but she sensed ‘‘the general feeling is that the people’s requests were not addressed’’ during the talks with the prime minister. It was not clear when, or if, the protest groups would make a formal response to Erdogan’s initiative.

Many protesters were still seething at how a peaceful protest has been sometimes overtaken as riot police clashed with groups of stone- and firebomb-throwing youths.

Such scenes prompted the European Parliament to condemn the Turkish police’s severe response.

Erdogan’s opponents have grown increasingly suspicious of what they call a gradual erosion of freedoms and secular Turkish values under his Islamic-rooted party’s leadership.

Mobilizing the courts and a referendum, however, could shield the prime minister from accusations of an authoritarian response.


"Turkish protests: Common ground in Gezi Park" June 15, 2013

After two weeks of civil unrest and political crisis in Turkey, there is a measure of calm: As of Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and protest organizers had arrived at what they called a tentative agreement.

Which Erdogan will break.

Only hours before, Erdogan had issued a “final” warning to protestors camped out in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, threatening heightened force to end the occupation. The violent confrontations have already left five dead and more than 5,000 injured. But this shift by Erdogan toward compromise is heartening — as long as the prime minister holds up his side of the bargain.

Erdogan has agreed to suspend plans to redevelop Gezi Park — the initial controversy that sparked the protests — pending a court appeal on the matter. He also agreed that, if the court rules in favor of the government, the question will be put to a referendum in Istanbul. Protesters, in turn, would end their demonstrations. Organizers agreed to take Erdogan’s pledge back to those occupying the park for a vote; as of Friday evening, the protesters had not yet left. But assuming that the deal with Erdogan holds, protesters should capitalize on their momentum to establish a stronger political movement for future elections.

Oh, look at the Globe steer them into elections. Pffft! 

That failed here. The rich got a tax cut even! Wealth inequality was a big presidential campaign issue, then it went away as it always does. It's s*** show fooleys is Amurkn politics.

Over the past decade, Erdogan has micromanaged nearly all Turkish policy decisions, from foreign policy to urban development. In the current crisis, he has at times seemed taken aback, even personally offended, by the challenge to this leadership style, which has come despite the government’s accomplishments, which include a booming economy.

A booming economy with widespread unrest? Hmmmmmmmmmmm! 

He has further harmed his reputation in Turkey and worldwide with his obstinacy and disregard for police brutality.

But he's still there.

Finding a middle ground on Gezi Park should help repair that damage. But Erdogan must fundamentally rethink how he rules. A good start would be to be more respectful of the right to dissent.


Here's your respect:

"Riot police empty Istanbul park of protesters" by Elena Becatoros and Jamey Keaten |  Associated Press,  June 16, 2013

ISTANBUL — Riot police fired water cannons and tear gas as they drove protesters out of Istanbul’s Taksim Square and neighboring Gezi Park on Saturday....

Within a half-hour, the sweep by white-helmeted riot police had emptied the park, leaving a series of colorful, abandoned tents behind. Bulldozers moved in afterward, scooping up debris as crews of workmen in hard hats and fluorescent yellow vests tore down the tents.


Protesters put up little physical resistance, even as plain-clothes police shoved many of them to drive them from the park.

Turkey tyranny.

Smoke billowed skyward as riot police marched inside the park Saturday. They tore down protesters’ banners, toppled a communal food stall, and sprayed tear gas over the tents, urging those inside to get out.

Images on Turkish TV showed activists carrying one woman on a stretcher through some riot police and to an ambulance, and a man splayed out, motionless, on the ground before a few others picked him up barehanded and hauled him away....

Tayfun Kahraman, a member of Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest movements, said an untold number of people in the park had been injured — some from rubber bullets.

‘‘Let them keep the park, we don’t care anymore. Let it all be theirs. This crackdown has to stop. The people are in a terrible state,’’ he told the Associated Press by phone.

A brutal police intervention on May 31 against those protesting plans to redevelop the square and the park had sparked the biggest antigovernment protests in Turkey in decades and dented Erdogan’s international reputation.

The protests, which at one point spread to dozens of Turkish cities and towns, turned into a much broader expression of discontent about Erdogan’s government....

According to NTV television, as they entered the park on Saturday police shouted to the protesters: ‘‘This is an illegal act, this is our last warning to you — Evacuate.’’

Hours before the police launched their operation, Erdogan had threatened protesters in a boisterous speech in Sincan, a suburb of the capital Ankara, that is a stronghold of his Justice and Development Party....

After he held talks with them, blah, blah, blah.

A second progovernment rally is planned for Sunday in Istanbul, though Erdogan has previously said that the rallies were not designed as ‘‘an alternative’’ to the demonstrations at Gezi Park, but part of early campaigning for local elections next March.

On Saturday, Erdogan lashed out at what he called the ‘‘plot’’ behind the biggest street protests in his 10-year tenure....

He sounds like Syria's Assad now, right?

He said his supporters represented the ‘‘silent masses.’’

How Nixonian.


Erdogan already has offered to defer to a court ruling on the legality of the government’s contested park redevelopment plan, and floated the possibility of a referendum on it. But concessions over the park seemed not to be enough.

Yeah, he's a real peacemaker and those protesters are unreasonable.


"Turkish leader defends crackdown on protests; Antigovernment demonstrations end after 18 days" by Sebnem Arsu |  New York Times, June 17, 2013

ISTANBUL — Government forces moved swiftly Sunday to quash the scattered vestiges of the protest movement against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, chasing down antigovernment protesters across the city, after the park at the center of the unrest was forcefully cleared the night before.

Attempts by protesters to regroup and converge again on Gezi Park in Taksim Square on Sunday were rebuffed by volleys of tear gas.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of government supporters, many arriving on buses from around the country, rallied Sunday in Istanbul. Speaking at the rally, Erdogan all but declared an end to the protests....

Just days after he appeared ready to compromise, Erdogan’s patience appears to have run out....

I love impatient leaders, don't you?

It is not yet clear how the public will react. Erdogan remains popular in many parts of the country, though the unrest has exposed severe weaknesses in his government. The protests, which were sparked by complaints against the planned destruction of Gezi Park for an Ottoman-themed shopping mall, have grown into broader anger and nationwide protests....

The crackdown is showing signs of backfiring.

Tyranny always does.

On Sunday, two of Turkey’s largest trade unions announced that they would hold a one-day strike Monday to protest the crackdown on demonstrators in Taksim Square. It was the first time the unions had sided publicly with the protesters.

On Sunday afternoon, police had cordoned off Taksim Square, obstructing pedestrian and car traffic. At least 14 armored anti-riot vehicles were parked in the center of the square, while two anti-riot trucks capable of firing tear gas and water cannons were nearby, with police standing beside.

In Turkey’s capital, Ankara, police fired water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas at protesters, injuring at least four, the Associated Press reported.

And in an apparent escalation by the government, Turkish television showed police Sunday detaining medical personnel who had been aiding wounded protesters.

Behaving like Bahrain now?

By 3 a.m. Sunday, the police were chasing protesters in the streets in Istanbul near the contested park, firing tear gas, water cannons, and, according to many demonstrators, rubber bullets. Some protesters hurled rocks and bottles, but most were attempting to march peacefully to Taksim Square.

One protester in the park, who gave only his first name, Deniz, said, “They fired sound bombs first, and then the tear gas came, and we were caught totally off guard. It was as if they were trying to kill us, not evacuate the park.”

Yeah, they heard he wanted to talk!

Erdogan is supported by roughly half the population, and the other half is a cross-section of secularists, liberals, urban intellectuals, and minorities who are divided in their political views but are increasingly united in opposition to what they view as Erdogan and his Islamic allies’ attempts to impose their views on the country.

CIA-activated assets?


"Unions give boost to activists challenging Turkish regime; One-day strike is latest protest against leader" by Nebi Qena  |  Associated Press,  June 18, 2013

ISTANBUL — Turkish labor groups fanned a wave of defiance against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authority, leading rallies and a one-day strike to support activists whose two-week standoff with the government has shaken the country’s secular democracy.

Riot police again deployed in Turkey’s two main cities, Istanbul and Ankara, and authorities kept up their unyielding stance against the street demonstrations centering on Istanbul’s Taksim Square. But Monday’s police sweep was less forceful than in recent days, with only scattered firing of tear gas and water cannons on pockets of protesters.

Oh, well, thank you, thank you, thank you, for that.

After activists were ousted from their sit-in in adjacent Gezi Park over the weekend, two labor confederations that represent some 330,000 workers picked up the slack Monday by calling a strike and demonstrations nationwide. Unionists turned up by the thousands in Ankara, Istanbul, coastal Izmir, and elsewhere.

The turnout defied Turkey’s interior minister, Muammer Guler, who warned that anyone taking part in unlawful demonstrations would ‘‘bear the legal consequences.’’ But one analyst called the rallies a ‘‘legitimate and a lawful expression of constitutional rights.’’

‘‘People are raising their voices against the excessive use of police force,’’ said Koray Caliskan, a political science professor at Istanbul’s Bosphorus University. Demonstrators, he said, were showing they were no longer cowed by authorities, and ‘‘the fear threshold has been broken.’’

In a sign that authorities were increasingly impatient, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc floated the prospect that authorities could call in troops to quash the protests....

Then they haven't really ended the protests then, and they have only gotten larger.

TV images Monday showed crowds of government supporters in Istanbul facing down some protesters and chanting ‘‘the hands targeting the police should be broken.’’

Were those photoshopped crowds because that is what appeared on the web.

On Twitter, a trending topic urged protesters to stay home — some expressing concern that pro-government mobs might attack them.

But overnight, for hours, a man stood silently on Taksim Square, eventually joined by about 20 other people who did likewise before police escorted them away. Pockets of unrest erupted elsewhere in Istanbul.

Doesn't seem like much, does it?

The labor rallies had a more structured feel than the counterculture-style sit-in at Gezi Park’s tent city, and the work stoppage involved many professionals who make up a liberal, urban class, that mostly backs the anti-Erdogan protesters.

The are respectable protests and disreputable ones, 'eh?


"Turkish leader promises police more power; Erdogan defiant against criticism of harsh tactics against protesters" by Suzan Fraser |  Associated Press, June 19, 2013

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s prime minister brushed aside international criticism over his government’s crackdown on widespread demonstrations on Tuesday and vowed to increase the police’s powers to deal with the unrest. Meanwhile, more than 90 people were detained in police raids linked to the protests.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s defiant stance appeared aimed at shoring up his conservative base in Turkey, where the rallies have exposed fissures between urban and largely secularist Turks and the more religious classes. But Erdogan’s bellicosity has dented his global reputation; EU officials on Tuesday nixed a visit because of some of his comments.

Of course, this is the same guy who stands with Gazans.

Antigovernment demonstrations sprouted across Turkey after May 31, when riot police brutally cracked down on peaceful environmental activists who opposed plans to remove trees and develop Gezi Park, which lies next to Istanbul’s famed Taksim Square.

The crackdowns have continued since protests have spread and attracted a range of groups unhappy with the 10-year rule of Erdogan, whom many believe is trying to gradually impose his religious and conservative views in Turkey, which has long had a secular democracy.

Four protesters and one police officer have been killed, and Turkey’s doctors’ association said an investigation was underway into the death of a fifth person who was exposed to tear gas. More than 7,800 people have been injured; six are in critical condition and 11 lost their eyesight after being hit by flying objects.

Police raided homes and offices on Tuesday in the capital, Ankara, and Istanbul, detaining at least 92 people suspected of involvement in violence.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said the suspects were detained for allegedly destroying public property, inciting people to revolt, or attacking police.

Addressing lawmakers belonging to his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party, Erdogan declared that riot police had acted with restraint and that their powers would be increased, giving them more leeway in dealing with future demonstrations.

‘‘Our security forces put up a successful and extremely patient struggle against the acts of violence by remaining within the limits set by democracy and the law,’’ Erdogan said.

In response to the ongoing confrontations, some protesters have adopted a special maneuver to get their point across: standing still.

The trend was launched by performance artist Erdem Gunduz, who stood silently for hours in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square on Monday night as others joined him and replicated the protest in other cities.

Related: Standing Man: Producers of Failed “Red Revolution™ ” in Turkey Resort to Melodrama 

Turns out the Turks know he is a CIA operative.

As the numbers swelled to a few hundred, police broke up the demonstration in Taksim late Monday, but by Tuesday evening dozens of protesters could be seen standing motionless in the square.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said law enforcement bodies must be held accountable, and that ‘‘the government must also provide adequate reparation to victims of excessive use of force and other serious human rights violations by security forces.’’

First we've heard from them -- and the last.

Turkey has long aspired to join the European Union, but the events of recent weeks have strained its relations with the bloc. 

Could that be the point of provoked protests? Keep Turkey out of the EU?

EU lawmakers said they would scrap a Wednesday visit to Turkey after Erdogan last week issued stinging criticism of an EU resolution that expressed concern over the ‘‘disproportionate and excessive use of force’’ by Turkish police against the demonstrators.

Erdogan had declared that he ‘‘won’t recognize the decision that the European Union Parliament is going to take.”


"Turkey allows passive protests" by Suzan Fraser |  Associated Press, June 20, 2013

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s deputy prime minister gave a nod of approval Wednesday to a new form of peaceful resistance that is spreading through Turkey.


Although police dispersed pockets of protesters who set up barricades in two Turkish cities overnight Tuesday, the sometimes violent antigovernment demonstrations have largely given way to a passive form of resistance, with people standing motionless.

The agenda-pushing media taking so much notice is suspicious.

Hundreds of demonstrators stood still for hours in squares on main streets in several cities, mimicking a lone protester, dubbed the “standing man,” who started the trend Monday in Istanbul’s Taksim Square.

In the first direct government comment on the new style of protest, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters that such standing protests are peaceful and ‘‘pleasing to the eye.’’ However, he also urged demonstrators to avoid obstructing traffic and endangering their own health.

‘‘This is not an act of violence,’’ Arinc said. ‘‘We cannot condemn it.’’

Neither was camping out in the square.

Hasan Kilic of the Istanbul Bar Association, however, said as many as 68 people who have taken part in the widespread protests were in custody for alleged links to ‘‘terror’’ groups, while 33 people were being questioned by authorities and faced possible organized crime charges.

More than 3,000 people have been detained then released since the antigovernment demonstrations began late last month, said the Human Rights Association.

Police dispersed hundreds of standing protesters at Taksim Square Monday night, but are now allowing such demonstrations to continue unhindered.

But not everyone is in favor of them.

Eight people wearing T-shirts that read ‘‘man standing against the standing man’’ stood in front of ‘‘standing man’’ protesters Wednesday in an apparent progovernment demonstration.

Turkey’s widespread antigovernment protests erupted across the country on May 31, when riot police brutally cracked down on peaceful environmental activists who opposed plans to remove trees and develop Gezi Park, which lies next to Istanbul’s famed Taksim Square.


"Police dispersed hundreds of protesters in the capital Ankara overnight, but the protests have mostly given way to a passive form of resistance, with demonstrators standing motionless in streets and squares.

And what was in print but scrubbed from the web because I searched: 

In Brussels on Thursday, Germany stood in the way of reviving Turkey's bid to join the European Union, protesting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on dissenters, two EU officials said.



The coverage in my Globe ended.