Saturday, May 03, 2008

Turkey: “Proportional Fascism”

May Day was celebrated in Turkey like in many other places all over the world. The Turkish workers planned to gather in Taksim Square in Istanbul and hold a peaceful demonstration. All the main labor unions of the country participated including the Turkey Labor Unions Confederation (Turk-Is), the Revolutionary Labor Unions Confederation (DISK) and the Confederation of Public Employees Labor Unions (KESK). Among the participants there was also the Labor Party of Turkey (EMEP) and other left-wing parties and organizations. But they all confronted the government’s stern will to prevent the demonstration through brute force and violence. For a second consecutive year, worker’s demonstrations were not allowed in Istanbul. The authorities have banned May Day celebrations in Taksim Square after 36 people were killed on May 1, 1977; a date since referred to as the "Bloody May 1." This event is seen was a turning point in Turkish history and an important factor that paved the way for the military coup in 1980. As in last year, the Erdogan government tried to prevent the rally of thousands workers and youth in the Taksim Square in Istanbul. Over 30,000 policemen along with military forces were in and around Taksim completely blocking the access to the square. They were there to terrify the masses of the workers, trade unionists and youth.

A group of demonstrators were repeating slogans like "Resign, Governor!" against Istanbul Governor Muammer Gόler, who had declared the government would use "proportional force" against protestors. What this actually meant became clear from the early morning. At 8:00 am, the police raided and looted the DISK union offices. At 10:00 am, police and security forces launched their main attack. Using copious amounts of tear gas, pepper spray, as well as water cannons, they managed to disperse the crowd of demonstrators marching towards Taksim. The police chased the retreating workers in the surrounding streets, continuing to throw tear gas and beating with batons almost everyone that was on their way. No distinction was made between demonstrators and passers-by. Citizens without the power to resist were beaten while falling to the ground and helpless women were kicked. The police did not hesitate to throw tear gas canisters into the Şişli Etfal Hospital where injured demonstrators were brought to receive first aid. Thirty-eight people, including eight policemen and one journalist, were injured and, in total, 530 demonstrators were arrested. According to the Anatolian Agency, 519 were released the following day, and the remaining 11 sent to the office of the public prosecutor.

The way “Rizospastis”, the newspaper of the Greek revisionist party “K”KE, covered the May Day events in Istanbul was totally misleading. For example, it mentioned that “among the 500 detainees there were 130 members of TKP while 30 others suffered serious head injuries”. Not even TKP itself makes such “heroic” claims in its official website. What in reality happened was that the TKP bloc approached the Taksim square almost unchecked whereas the EMEP bloc and other demonstrators were confronted by strong police forces. As a matter of fact, the people in the TKP bloc faced the least of police violence compared to all others.

Movement for the Reorganisation of the KKE 1918-55
May 2008

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