by admin on 14/06/13 at 2:08 pm
By Joseph Kaskanian
The protests continue in Turkey as massive clouds of tear gas blanket Taksim square. The protest started with a group of activist occupying Taksim Square in order to stop government actions toward transforming their historic parks into a shopping center. “Imagine them taking down Central park to turn it into a shopping center,” said one protester. The government’s actions against these groups of activist sparked involvement from the entire country, and now, tens and thousands of Turkish citizens have taken it to the streets across the country to protest against Prime Minister Erdogan and his party. The Interior Minister, Muammer Guler, reported that, as of June 2, “there have been over 235 protests in 67 provinces. There have been over 1,000 arrests and hundreds of casualties… Human rights Watch is still assessing these figures.”
It seems that citizens of Turkey, as a self-proclaimed democratic republic, are now bringing light to the true colors of their government, through the major human rights violations that the people are now subject to. Article 34 of the constitution states that, “Everyone has the right to hold unarmed and peaceful meetings and demonstration marches without prior permission.” This article is being completely violated, as the Turkish Police continue to abuse the citizens and their constitutional rights. These protestors are being sprayed down with water cannons, shot with tear gas canisters, and even physically assaulted by police. What’s ironic is that “Gezi Park near Taksim Square in Istanbul was originally the largest non-Muslim cemetery in Turkey that belonged to Christian Armenians. It was confiscated by the Turkish government, demolished in the 1930’s and the marble tombstones were sold as part of a systematic plan to continue to erase the memory of the Armenians after the genocide of 1915.”
The citizens are fed up with Erdogan, who has held the position of Prime Minister since 2003. A protester in Taksim Square stated that “We want to be heard, respected.” Although thousands of people want Edrogran to leave his position, Erdogan states that he will not step down. Although he apologized to protesters, the attacks against his citizens continue to take place today. Deputy Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch, Carroll Bogert, tweeted that “Decision to send riot police, tear gas into Taksim has all but destroyed efforts at dialogue between Turkey’s government and protesters.” Human Rights Watch also issued a statement bringing light to the fact that, “In the incidents during the morning, Human Rights Watch witnessed subsequent clashes between the riot police, who repeatedly fired rounds of teargas and used vehicles equipped with water cannons, and some protesters who threw stones and gasoline bombs. The vast majority of protesters maintained their peaceful occupation of the park. Peaceful protesters also formed a long human chain in Taksim Square to protest the police entry into the square, and police dispersed them with teargas.” Sinclair-Webb stated that “The Prime Minister’s words this morning seem to have been a green light for the tear gas attack on peaceful demonstrators this evening.”
The people of Turkey have united in Taksim Square to scream democracy in the face of a morally bankrupt government. It is time for Erdogan’s regime to respect these citizens’ constitutional rights, as well as their basic human rights.
Aside from upholding the citizen’s right to protest, the Turkish government should be punished for using excessive force against its citizens.
Erdogan, the citizens of Turkey are fed up with your authoritarian government.
It is time for you to step down.