Turkey’s interior minister on June 17 declared a nationwide one-day general strike “illegal” and threatened to suppress it. Unions called the stoppage to protest the forced eviction of Istanbul’s Gezi Park over the weekend, which saw widespread street-fighting, with access to the area now restricted. Thousands of workers are expected to march on Taksim Square, the plaza surrounding Gezi Park, in defiance of authorities. On June 14, before ordering police to clear the plaza, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with representatives of the Taksim Solidarity coalition, including Arzu Çerkezolu, general secretary of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK). But the meeting turned hostile, and afterwards Erdogan publically attacked Arzu—the first woman to lead the DISK—as an “ultra-unionist.” The government says it will honor a court decision halting construction of the shopping mall at Gezi Park, the only green public place in central Istanbul. But DISK has joined wth protesters in demanding that Erdogan step down. In the 20 days of the uprising, five have been killed and thousands injured.
Said DISK’s international spokesman Kivanç Eliaçik: “Hundreds of thousands of people are resisting excessive police violence in Istanbul and in almost all cities. This is the final phase of PM Erdogan. We call for international support for the cause of the people.” (Euronews, Euronews, June 17; Stronger Unions, June 16)