Frontline Footage: Turkey

31/05/2014 – The Anniversary of Gezi Park

The anniversary of Gezi was to be commemorated with a gathering in Taksim square and Gezi park. Tayyip made it clear this was not going to happen. Sources say 25,000 security forces were deployed with police holidays and weekends canceled. 50 water trucks and close to 80 armoured vehicles where put on the ground. All Metro stops surrounding Taksim where shut down, leaving millions stranded on the way home from work. Walking up Istiklal the amount of police was phenomenal, particularly the plain clothed policemen who stand out with their bait casual clothes and buzzing walkie talkies. What was a peaceful protest that included silent book vigils and dancing at 19.00 was totally crushed with gas, water canon and rubber bullets. We did not film, we ran. What footage we do have is from a street battle that took place afterwards as small radical groups re-organized and began to fight back.

14/05/2014 – The Soma Tragedy

This is a video of the spontaneous protests that took place in light of the Soma tragedy in Turkey. It took place on Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), the Oxford Street of Istanbul. It began with a handful of people sitting down at the Independence monument with soot on their faces at mid-day and by the evening a critical mass of thousands had gathered to march and join them. This was all done over social media and by word of mouth during the day. It was attended by a wide variety of turkish society and political groups many coming straight from work or school. It was really something to behold. It was met with brutal violence and repression. We are uploading this in tandem with videos from the ‘Gezi Anniversary’ to put things into perspective. That is the way the state deals with public protest and collective organisation in public spaces and how its tactics inspires a violent response.

01/05/2014 – Bir Mayis (Labour Day)

See our full analysis here

The build-up:

Tomorrow is an important day here in Turkey. Bir Mayis. The celebration of working class unity, solidarity and the fight against exploitation and injustice, only made a public holiday 4 years ago since it was banned under the 1980’s coup.

This year Prime Minister Erdogan has banned the demonstration from taking place in Taksim Square, the traditional rally point. He has offered Yenikapi, on the edge of the city, as an alternative, where his Justice and Development Party hold its rallies. He is a boss when it comes to moves like this, arguing demonstrating in Taksim disrupts tourism thus damaging local business and the everyday man. He then offers his own meeting place as an alternative and free transport there. Is he not merciful… !?Of course this ignores the historic and symbolic significance of Taksim for the Left particularly in relation to May 1st. In 1977 DISK (the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions in Turkey) in tandem the socialists and the underground communists (TKP was illegal at this time) organised a huge Labour Day rally in Taksim, the second of its kind since Labour Day had been were no longer ‘brother in arms’…!).criminalised by the state. In the lead up they had forbidden Maoist groups from participating (for those who don’t know the Soviet Union and China

On the day of the rally the Maoist’s decided to turn up anyway, and as they turned onto the square shots rang out. There was panic and a great crush (it would turn out that more people died from being trampled than were shot). The police then attacked adding to the carnage. However, it became clear that the shooting had in fact taken place from the roofs of the Marmara Hotel and Sular İdaresi. Though nobody has ever been brought to justice, the evidence points to the massacre being part of the machinations of the Turkish ‘Deep State’. This involved the Turkish police but also the sinister Counter-Guerilla initiative, a branch of the anti-communist Operation Gladio.

Thus Taksim’s significance to the Left cannot be understated. For Erdogan however the real fear is of course the specter of Gezi. This is the real motive behind the ban. Tomorrow will be the first major anti-government action to take place since the AKP election victories last month and involve many of those who took to the streets last year. Thousands of police will surround the area and try and stop people from entering the square. This will be a litmus test for the how well the Gezi spirit has lasted.

“Give up on your hopes of Taksim. Do not engage in a fight with the state. Do not disturb the peace of our people”. Tomorrow we shall see.