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The latest news on Kurds

1. Press Release: Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK)
2. DTP to urge Talabani toward ‘democratic solution of Kurdish issue’
3. KRG Statement on First High-level Talks with Turkey
4. Wife of Iraqi president unharmed in Baghdad blast
5. Kurds dispute toll in Turkey’s airstrikes in Iraq
6. Syrian Forces suppress more Kurdish Festivals on May Day
7. Air strikes: PKK denies Turkey killed 150 rebels
8. Turkish Army Deploys Troops across Kurdistan Region Borders
9. Turkish Warplanes Shell Qandil Mountain Areas
10. Freedom of expression still in danger in Turkey despite article 301 reform
11. Article 140 and The Future of Iraq
12. OUTRAGE – Turkish Daily News
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1. Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK)

Press release

7 May, 2008

To the Press and Public Opinion

On Thursday, 1 May 2008, Turkish military warplanes heavily bombed the Qendil region in Southern Kurdistan/Northern Iraq. The attacks carried out by 30 to 40 Turkish warplanes for three hours, from 11:00 pm on the first of May, to 2:00 am on the second of May.

They bombed the Press Central Unit of PJAK as well the villages of Rezge, Marado, Shnawe, Zergelêsh and Qelatukan. These attacks caused major physical and economic damage to the Kurdish civilian and their properties. In the bomb attacks six members of PJAK, four of them journalists from the Press Central Unit have become martyrs. They are: Diyako Bakhtiyari known as Herish Amed From Mahabad, Kardo Eliyali known as Argesh Bawer From Piranshahr, Behjat Takin Alp known as Firat Chele, Jamal Rasuli known as Armanj Mariwan From Mariwan, Memed Guren known as Wedad Amed From Amed, Rahim Borna known as Raman Cawid From Mahabad

Hundreds of families who live under difficult circumstances have been intimidated by the air raids. A school has been destroyed and the teachers have left the villages, thus the children are now without school and teachers. Hundreds of livestock have been killed, causing serious economical damage to the villages. On top of this, the regional government and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have imposed an embargo on the region and closed it off to journalists.

The attacks occurred shortly after a high level Iranian delegation visited Turkey in April and signed a security and economic agreement between the two countries to cooperate against PJAK and the Kurdish people in both countries.

While Turkey shouldered the role of the actual attacker, the assaults were the result of an agreement between Iran, Turkey and Iraq and of American intelligence sharing. It is important to mention that on the day of the attacks a Turkish delegation, led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Chief Adviser Ahmet Davutoglu was in Iraq and at the same time the deputy president of Iraq, Tariq Al-Hashimi, was in Turkey for diplomatic talks. This means that a new phase of attacks against the Kurdish people has started, which will lead to more turmoil in the region. The role of the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government is submissive to the Turkish policies against the Kurds.

It is necessary to find out why the headquarter of PJAK has been bombed. Why the intelligence provided by the United States used in favour of the Iranian state? And why does the Turkish regime militarily targets Kurdish organisations of another part of Kurdistan? We ask the United States and the Kurdistan Regional Government to give an explanation for this, or they shall lose all credibility in our eyes. The USA tells the world that it has a strategic conflict with the theocratic regime in Iran. But when the Kurdish people in Iran wages a sacrificing, modern struggle for the democratisation of the country, they provide the means for an attack on them!

Meanwhile 25 bombs that did not explode have been found. The writings on the bombs suggest that they contain chemical weapons. They are being examined; the results from independent scientific laboratories will be published soon.

In addition to these Turkish barbaric attacks the Associated Press, hired journalists and other press agencies are publishing misinformation about PJAK. These media news articles which claim that PJAK will carry out suicide attacks against Iraq and the USA interests in the region are untrue and fabricated, they are against PJAK principles, policies and democratic values. We ask the AP and other press agencies to clarify and correct their wrong information about PJAK and the Kurdish people.

Clarification:

1. PJAK is based mainly inside Eastern Kurdistan and Iran, not in Iraq. It depends on the support of the Kurdish and Iranian people. It is a democratic national movement for the Kurds in Iran. Its aim’s are to unite the Kurdish and Iranian opposition, to change the oppressive Islamic regime in Iran and to establish a free democratic con-federal system for the Kurds and the Iranian peoples. “Changing of the regime to a democratic system in which all citizens; Iranians, Kurds, Azaries, Baluchs, Turkomans and Arabs and all other ethnic groups within the framework of the democratic system, can govern themselves.”

2. PJAK is against any suicide or terrorists attacks. It adheres to the roles of the United Nations human rights declaration. It is in self defense and does not launch any military cross border attacks from Iraq. All of the operations inside Iran are in self defense and to protect our people from the Iranian security and revolutionary Guards forces continues atrocities and forced assimilation.

3. PJAK is not a rebels organization. PJAK is a political massive national democratic movement of the Kurds in Iran. PJAK strategy is to use all form of struggle; political, social, economic, nonviolence civil disobedience, human rights, NGOS and to carry arms in self defense etc,. “PJAK is always continuing the work and struggle needed to achieve an increase in the level of intelligence, a democratic organization of people as well as practice of the democratic values, to achieve a radical type of democracy and to be able to launch a system of democratic confederacy in eastern Kurdistan.”

4. PJAK is a self sufficient and independent organization. It depends on the Kurds and Iranian people support, contrary to the Iranian dictatorial regime misinformation campaign that PJAK getting help from the USA and the west. We again declare to the public opinion that PJAK did not receive any help from any country including the USA. We depend on the support of our people and on our organization.

The Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) calls upon the United States of America, Iraq, the European Union and the European states to realize that the path to security and democracy in the Middle East leads through a change of the Iranian theocratic regime. Therefore a positive approach to the Kurdish question and the demands and views of Iran’s peoples and the peoples of the Middle East is necessary. Oligarchic, theocratic and reactionary states cannot be force of stability and cannot meet the demands of the peoples. At the same time these states undermine global security by setting up and funding fundamentalist groups.

It is time to put stop to the atrocities and human rights violations of the Turkish and Iranian Islamic oppressive regimes.

We call upon the international community to help the Kurds and the peoples of Iran in their struggle for democracy, freedom and peace.

Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK)
Coordination Committee
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2. DTP to urge Talabani toward ‘democratic solution of Kurdish issue’

EMİNE KART ANKARA
07.05.2008
Today’s Zaman

A delegation led by Democratic Society Party (DTP) parliamentary group chairman Ahmet Türk is scheduled to meet today with Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani to urge him to play an active role in the solution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey.
DTP deputies Sebahat Tuncel and Hasip Kaplan as well as Kamuran Yüksek, deputy co-chairman of the DTP, accompanied Türk during his travel to Sulaimaniya yesterday, party executives told Today’s Zaman.
“The delegation will meet [Wednesday] with President Talabani and explain that Turkey’s military operations inside northern Iraq are not helpful for the eventual solution of the Kurdish issue. The DTP delegation will reiterate that the issue should be resolved on the axis of democracy,” a DTP executive told Today’s Zaman.
The delegation also plans to meet with either Massoud Barzani, head of the regional Kurdish administration, or Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the administration, the same official added, noting that an exact appointment with Massoud Barzani or Nechirvan Barzani had not yet been set as of yesterday afternoon.
“During talks with both Talabani and the Iraqi Kurdish leadership, the DTP will ask them to play their roles in a solution of the Kurdish issue, and they will also emphasize the vital need for unity among Kurdish people,” the executive, who requested anonymity, elaborated. The delegation is scheduled to return to Turkey on Thursday.
The visit by the DTP, which is facing a closure case currently under way before the Constitutional Court on charges of its being “a focal point of terrorism,” comes only days after a landmark meeting between two senior Turkish officials and Nechirvan Barzani in Baghdad last week, in the first high-level official talks between Ankara and Iraqi Kurds in years.
Ankara for many years has refused to have any dialogue with the Iraqi Kurds, saying they support the PKK, but the path for dialogue is now slowly reopening. Turkey has also been striking PKK bases in Kurdish-run northern Iraq since Dec. 16 and the United States, has backed the operations by providing intelligence and airspace clearance for Turkish warplanes.
On Sunday, Massoud Barzani was quoted as saying that the PKK must end the violence and that Kurds want dialogue with Ankara. Earlier this week, news reports said the Iraqi Kurdish administration has established security outposts on the border with Turkey to prevent infiltration of PKK members into Turkey.
Shortly before his departure yesterday Türk made a statement at İstanbul’s Atatürk Airport. “They [Kurds] want to improve friendly relations with their siblings in Turkey. But the Middle East is a problematic region. … How can we remove these pains? This is why we’re paying a diplomatic visit,” Türk told reporters.
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3. KRG Statement on First High-level Talks with Turkey

02/05/2008
KRG/com

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation led by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani today in Baghdad met with a delegation from the Republic of Turkey headed by Mr Ahmet Davutoğlu, the senior advisor to the Turkish Prime Minister; Mr Murat Özçelik, the Special Coordinator for Iraqi Affairs at the Turkish Foreign Ministry; and Mr Derya Kanbay, Turkey’s Ambassador in Baghdad.
This first high-level official meeting of both sides focused on a wide range of political, security and economic issues between Turkey and the KRG. The meeting was conducted in a cordial and open atmosphere in which both sides stressed similar views on many issues and expressed a desire for common understanding and interests. The meeting concluded with future practical steps laid out and a desire on both sides for continued dialogue.
Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani expressed the Kurdistan Region’s desire to develop good neighbourly relations with Turkey. He recognised Turkey’s legitimate concerns and highlighted the importance of solving common problems through cooperation, political negotiation and dialogue.
The meeting in Baghdad follows efforts by the Iraqi federal government, such as the recent visit of Iraqi President Jalal Talabany to Ankara, and other friends, to enhance relations between both sides.
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4. Wife of Iraqi president unharmed in Baghdad blast

Sun, 04 May 2008
DPA

Baghdad – A bomb blast targeting the motorcade of the wife of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad left four of her guards wounded Sunday, according to a presidential statement, while a female journalist was shot dead in the northern city of Mosul. Talabani’s wife, Hiro Ibrahim Ahmed, was unharmed in the blast that occurred near the national theatre in central Baghdad, said the statement issued by the president’s office.
Ahmed was on her way to the theatre to attend a cultural event.
In Mosul, gunmen in a car shot dead an Iraqi Kurdish journalist, Sarwa Abdel-Wahab, outside her home in Bakr district, according to the website of Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party.
Abdel-Wahab was also a lawyer and a member of the election committee office in Mosul.
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5. Kurds dispute toll in Turkey’s airstrikes in Iraq

By Asso Ahmed and Tina Susman,
Special to The Times
May 3, 2008

SHIRWE HASSO, IRAQ — As Turkey’s military on Saturday claimed it had killed 150 Kurdish separatists in airstrikes in northern Iraq and a rebel spokesman disputed the account, those caught in the crossfire were struggling to survive in tent cities and even caves.

Turkey’s military said a series of airstrikes ending Friday had hit 43 targets and killed at least 150 “terrorists” in its most aggressive offensive since its ground incursion in February.
A spokesman for the separatists, who operate from mountain bases along the Turkish and Iranian borders, scoffed at the claim.

“I affirm that their airplanes have bombed some of our sites in the mountains in the last days, but they were empty ones as our fighters are moving continuously in the mountains from one place to another,” Zagros Bokani said.

He said six rebels died in the latest attacks.

Bokani represents an Iranian Kurdish rebel group, the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, which is allied with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Both groups are fighting for an autonomous Kurdish state.

Since fall, Turkey has staged occasional incursions into the Qandil mountains. Rarely is it possible to confirm either side’s accounts of the fighting because of the remoteness of the region, but civilians living in the rugged mountains have been displaced.

The United States says it has urged Turkey to avoid hitting civilian areas in its bombardments. But the people living in an encampment in the Shirwe Hasso region said they were caught in the middle.

On Friday, Owaz Jamal was singing in a low voice while sewing a dress for her 6-year-old daughter in her neatly kept tent. She said they had fled the border village of Rezga, 35 miles away, because of the cross-border airstrikes and artillery.

Jamal and others living in this cluster of 200 tents said Iran as well as Turkey had been bombarding the region. Both countries have Kurdish populations agitating for autonomy.

“We’re staying close to our old village and the mountains so we can keep an eye on them, and keep up hopes of returning to them,” said Jamal, who cares for two daughters and a son.

She recalled life in Rezga as simple and carefree. Summers were spent in the mountains tending to their sheep. Winters were spent mostly inside, staying warm.

That has changed, she said. “Having our homes destroyed, and being on the run, has become part of our lives,” Jamal said.

Khaja Rasoul was carrying firewood on her shoulders to prepare food for her family of nine.

“We are tired of living like this,” she said. “Each time we build something or gather some money, it is incinerated by fire from bombs, and we go back to square one.”

As she spoke, columns of smoke could be seen rising from what villagers said were the remains of a Party for Free Life building, which they said had been bombed.

tina.susman@latimes.com

Special correspondent Ahmed reported from Shirwe Hasso and Times staff writer Susman from Baghdad.
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6. Syrian Forces suppress more Kurdish Festivals on May Day

Kurdishaspect.com
By Aman Suleyman
May 6, 2008

Syrian authorities prepared to break up another Kurdish celebration, this time marking May Day or International Workers’ Day. Security forces confronted Kurdish celebrators in the city of Ayn al-Arab (Kurdish: Kobane) using tear gas and fired live bullets over the heads of the celebrators. There were dozens of arrests made during the event and Syrian forces confiscated many of the belongings of the celebrators who ran away in fear of losing their lives. Many left many of their personal belongings behind such as their motorcycles and other items, which the Syrian Forces confiscated.
The Kurds in the celebration shouted slogans in support of the Democratic Union Party of Syria and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The celebration remained peaceful but Syrian Security Forces arrived to the site of the celebrations and demanded that the crowds disperse. When the crowd refused, the Syrian Security Forces began firing shots in the celebrators’ direction and using tear gas. Kurdish youth began hurling stones back at the Syrian Security Forces before the Security Forces charged the crowd and began indiscriminately making arrests.
Dozens were arrested but not all those in custody have been identified. Among those known to currently be in the Syrian authorities’ custody are Mohammed Ahmed, Abdul Qadir Ibrahim, Abu Ihid, Kawa Jammu Abu Mohammed, Mustapha Ben Sheikhan, Mohamed Ahmed Nuri, and Khalil Nebo.
A video of a portion of the events that unfolded in Ayn al-Arab (Kobane) can be seen on YouTube:
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7. Air strikes: PKK denies Turkey killed 150 rebels

Staff Report
May 05, 2008,
Gulf News

Arbil: Kurdish PKK rebels in northern Iraq on Saturday denied claims by the Turkish military that more than 150 of their fighters had been killed there in Turkish air strikes.

“There were not 150 PKK fighters killed. This is totally inaccurate,” PKK spokesman Ahmad Danees told Reuters by satellite phone from a secret location in northern Iraq.

He said the air strikes had killed six Kurdish rebels from a different faction that is fighting Iran. The strikes took place near an area where the borders of Iraq, Turkey and Iran meet.
The Turkish military said on Saturday it had killed more than 150 Kurdish PKK rebels in a series of aerial bombings on Thursday and Friday.

Security forces in Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdistan region said they were not aware of any casualties.
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8. Turkish Army Deploys Troops across Kurdistan Region Borders

PUKmedia
06 May, 2008

The Turkish army has deployed its heavily armed troops across the borders with the Kurdistan region, the Turkish Sabah newspaper announced on Tuesday.
Turkish military support has been sent to the borders of Kurdistan region after last night’s clashes between Turkish troops and PKK militants, the newspaper wrote.
Turkish security forces killed two PKK militants attempting to cross the Turkish-Iraqi border in Uludere district of Sirnak, a southeastern province of Turkey, the Hurriyet English Turkish newspaper reported on Monday.
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9. Turkish Warplanes Shell Qandil Mountain Areas

PUKmedia
03 May, 2008

A Turkish source announced that Turkish warplanes shelled this morning the border villages in Qandil Mountain. The source didn’t mention any casualties.
It’s worth mentioning that Turkey repeatedly strike Kurdistan Region territory under the pretext of chasing the PKK fighters.
On the other hand, a Turkish Delegation headed by Ahmet Davutoglu the Turkish PM Senior Adviser is currently in Baghdad to discuss the PKK question.
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10. Freedom of expression still in danger in Turkey despite article 301 reform

5 May 2008
Reporters Without Borders

Amendments to a law punishing insults to Turkish identity which the Turkish parliament adopted on 30 April are “cosmetic and insufficient,” Reporters Without Borders said today. Dozens of writers and journalists have been convicted under the law, article 301 of the criminal code, since its introduction in 2005.
“It is wrong to regard this reform as good news,” the press freedom organisation said. “It is true the penalties have been reduced, but insults to Turkish identity has simply been replaced by insults to the Turkish nation, leaving judges a lot of leeway to prosecute anyone who publicly broaches sensitive issues such as the Armenian genocide or the Kurdish issue.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “Furthermore, this reform concerns only article 301. Any real improvement in freedom of expression in Turkey would have to include a thorough overhaul of all the laws and regulations that restrict it. The limited nature of this reform highlights the size of the problem that free speech poses to the Turkish authorities.”
The national assembly approved the amendments to article 301 after a stormy debate on 30 April by 250 votes to 65. Article 301, which took effect in May 2005 replacing article 109 of the old criminal code, made attacks on “Turkish identity” punishable by up to three years in prison and it was used to prosecute several thousand people.
According to justice minister Mehmet Ali Sahin, 1,189 people were taken before a court in the first quarter of 2007 alone for article 301 violations. Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk and Armenian-Turkish newspaper editor Hrant Dink, who was murdered by ultranationalists in Istanbul on 19 January 2007, were among those prosecuted under the article.
The reform replaces attacks on “Turkishness” by attacks on the “Turkish nation” and reduces the maximum prison sentence from three years to two. And most trials under article 301 will henceforth take place before magistrate courts instead of criminal courts. Article 301 proceedings currently under way will be dropped, and the cases will be reexamined in the light of the new provisions.
Article 301 is just one element of the legislative arsenal restricting free expression in Turkey. Other laws punish attacks on fundamental national interests (article 305), inciting hatred, hostility or humiliation (article 216), attacking the memory of the Turkish republic’s founder, Atatürk (law 5816 of 25 July 1951) and discouraging the public from doing military service (article 318). In many cases, the penalties increase by a half when the media are used to break the law.
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11. Article 140 and The Future of Iraq

A Conference Sponsored by Washington Kurdish Institute, the Penn Program in Ethnic Conflict – Univ. of Pennsylvania, and the Kurdish National Congress of NA

Friday May 9, 2008
9:00am to 5:00pm

Location:
2172 Rayburn House Office Building
Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.
Independence & South Capitol St, SW
Capitol South Metro Stop – Blue and Orange Lines

Please RSVP to wki@kurd.org or knc@kurdishnationalcongress.org
Please send name, affiliation, and daytime telephone number
Registration is Required (Space is Limited)

Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution mandates a process of normalization and referendum for disputed territories, although it continues to be a vexing issue which needs to be addressed. The most significant of these disputed territories is the governorate and city of Kirkuk, which suffered ethnic cleansing and expulsion by the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein. Makhmur, Sinjar, Khanaqeen and other areas of rural Kurdistan also fall under the jurisdiction of Article 140.
The future of Iraq depends on Article 140 and its aim of using a democratic and constitutional framework to address problems that are long overdue for resolution. The Iraqi government failed to meet the 2007 deadline for Kirkuk specified by Article 140, which includes full normalization and a referendum on unifying with the Kurdistan Regional Government. A six-month extension was granted to fulfill this constitutional obligation.
Speakers at the conference will discuss all dimensions of Article 140 and its implementation.
The program for the event will be forthcoming.

Dr. Najmaldin Karim, President of WKI
Dr. Saman Shali, President of KNCNA
Prof. Brendan O’Leary, Director of the Penn Program
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12. OUTRAGE – Turkish Daily News

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The British commander in occupied Istanbul, who banned Labor Day demonstrations in 1921, was afraid that rallies would light the fuse of public reaction against the occupation. But what was the big fear behind Thursday’s police brutality in Istanbul

TAYLAN BİLGİÇ / ANALYSIS
ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News

RECEP T. ERDOĞAN
The government performed its duty; the undesirable incidents that took place were caused by the intransigence of the trade unions.
DENİZ BAYKAL
Incidents in Istanbul are a source of shame both for the ruling AKP government and the prime minister.
HASİP KAPLAN
Disproportionate use of forced turned the streets into battlefields. Those responsible should resign.
MUAMMER GÜLER
Ignoring the law has legal, criminal and moral consequences. The footage shows that warnings about provocateurs were valid.
ARZUHAN YALÇINDAĞ
The fact that May 1 turned into a show of strength is an unfortunate test for Turkey’s 130-year tradition of democracy.
It was April 27, 1921, when British Gen. Harrington, the commander of the occupying forces in Istanbul, issued strict orders that workers “shall not hold rallies on Labor Day.” That year, thousands of workers were forced to keep a low profile and celebrated their day largely in workplaces, but the next year, Istanbul, still occupied, welcomed the day with a mass rally which became a call for struggle against the invaders, in Pangaltı district.
From a historical perspective, the reflex of the occupiers might be “excused,” as they were afraid the rallies would inflame public anger against them. But Thursday’s outrageous scenes of brutality, firing gas bombs into hospitals, trade union and political party buildings, beating up protestors already stupefied with the overpowering effect and amount of tear gas, civilians crying or fainting, a journalist with a broken arm, pointing guns at unarmed people, aiming tear gas canisters directly at people or buildings – most of the damage in shops around İstiklal Street was due to this fact – and the overall scene of a city under siege, with the help of 30,000 policemen and thousands of commandos, cannot be excused. The official line in the tear-gassing of Şişli Etfal Hospital’s emergency ward said “a policeman dropped his canister by mistake,” but Ahmet Şık, a journalist who witnessed the event, said police deliberately gas-bombed the ward, despite pleas from the sick and their relatives, in Friday’s edition of daily Taraf.
Enemy mentality:
Indeed, the attitude toward workers, protestors and even civilians – tear gas canisters used number at around 1,700 – is one of “enemy mentality,” as could be observed in photos across Turkish newspapers Friday, or footage that has dominated television channels since Thursday afternoon. In a particularly striking scene, police beat up a civilian sitting at a cafe, just because he was rubbing lemon on his eyes, to ease the effects of the poisonous gas. The reason? Footage shows a policeman, busy with the truncheon, uttering, “Where did you learn to do that lemon thing!” According to this twisted logic, if the hapless man knew the “lemon thing,” he must have been a protestor, thus deserved a good beating!
And this journalist witnessed a scene where a policeman swore at a woman walking near the Military Museum in Harbiye, saying, roughly, that she was “handled well” by tear gas.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government mainly justified banning Taksim Square to trade unions by claiming that there would be “provocation” in the square if workers were let in. But those trying to march for their rights, journalists and citizens minding their own business in Şişli and Taksim saw clearly that provocation stemmed from government forces themselves.
Insult to injury:
Official responses, meanwhile, add insult to injury. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he “could not grasp why trade unions were so insistent on Taksim.” deputy chairman of the AKP, Dengir Mir Fırat, accused trade unionists of “bullying.” Labor Minister Faruk Çelik, amazingly, said he is happy with the outcome and “congratulated” trade unionists for preventing “big trouble,” adding that the police “did what they had to do.” Istanbul’s police chief, Celalettin Cerrah, said there were “no adverse situations,” while Governor Muammer Güler claimed, “Lawless actions were prevented without causing much trouble.”
Labor Day has traditionally been a litmus test in Turkish politics. And this year it served its purpose well, by planting well-justified doubts in the minds of millions that the AKP, viewed by many in the past as a force to strengthen democracy, may in fact be only interested in strengthening its political grip on power, using democracy as a rhetoric only when needed in its fight against the so-called status quo.