Turkey: protest movement gets another martyr

Ahmet Ataka, a 22-year-old protester, died Sept. 10 two days after being wounded in a clash with police in Antakya (Antioch), provincial capital of Turkey’s Hatay province. The march was called to show solidarity with students and local residents in Ankara protesting the construction of a road through the Middle Eastern Technical University (ODTÜ) campus, which would destroy a green area—a reprise to June’s massive protests sparked by plans to bulldoze Gezi Park in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Authorities are maintianing that Ataka suffered a head injury when he fell from a building, and that police were not involved. Protesters contest this, and say he was hit in the head with a tear-gas cannister. (BIANet, Setp. 10: Doğan News Agency, Sept. 8)

On Sept. 7, police in Ankara used tear-gas, water cannons and rubber bullets against protesters at the ODTÜ campus. The Istanbul protests were called off in July after the government agreed to negotiate on the fate of Gezi Park, but the movement has remobilized over the ODTÜ development plan, under the slogan Taksim Dayanisma, or Taksim Solidarity. (Hurriyet Daily NewsAFP, Sept. 7)

Ataka was but the most recent case of a protester killed under contested circumstances since the Turkish demonstrations broke out in June. The Antakya demonstration was called in part to demand justice in the deaths of Ethem Sarısülük and Abdullah Can Cömert, two young men killed during the June protets in the city. Protest leaders also point to the case of Medeni Yildirim, 18, killed during the June protests in Istanbul, and Ali Ismail Korkmaz, 19, apparently beaten to death by government supporters in Eskişehir. None of Korkmaz’s attackers have yet been identified, and surveillance camera recordings that caught the incident turned out to be “damaged.” (BIANet, July 10; Take the Square, June 30; HuffPost, June 17; Everywhere Taksim, AP, June 4)

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  1. Protests rock Istanbul
    Turkish police used water cannon and tear gas to break up anti-government protests in Istanbul, amid anger over the death of a demonstrator in Antakya earlier in the week. Officers faced up to 3,000 angry protesters on a second consecutive day of demonstrations in the Kadikoy district, an opposition stronghold. The police fired tear gas, water cannon and plastic pellets to break up the crowd as it approached the local offices of the ruling AKP party. (Al Jazeera, Sept. 13)

  2. Protests rock Ankara
    Turkish police forces used tear-gas and water cannons against teachers staging a protest in the capital Ankara against the government’s education policies Nov. 23. One teacher was gravely injured  when she was hit in the dea with a gas canister fired by police. The protest, organized by the Education and Science Workers’ Union (Egitim-Sen), brought thousands of teachers from across the country to the capital’s iconic Tandogan Square. (Press TV)