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article imageNew protests hit Turkey Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Sep 11, 2013 in World
Istanbul - New freedom protests hit Turkey as Prime Minister Erdogan continues to support Islamist policies and enforce censorship.
News of last spring's Gezi Park freedom protests spread across the world as thousands took to the streets in cities all over Turkey. Beginning on May 31 as an effort to save Istanbul's Gezi Park from destruction, the protests soon became a general outrage against Prime Minister Erdogan's Islamist policies that limit personal freedom and encourage long imprisonments for minor offenses, censorship, and police brutality. Police struck out at protesters with attack vehicles, water canon, gas canisters, and at least one bullet shot to a man's head. Six people were killed and thousands wounded. Hundreds were arrested, including doctors, lawyers, and journalists. Many journalists and academics lost their jobs for supporting the protests.
Summer, however, was quiet as Islamists struck back with their own protests in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's deposed President Morsi, and Islamist freedom-fighters in Syria. They held smaller bands of protests than the massive freedom outcries, holding up four-fingered salutes and banners that Erdogan also endorsed. At the same time, Erdogan pushed Islamic laws that targeted women. Nearly 300 people were convicted of trying to organize a coup against Erdogan, and many top army generals, academics, and writers got life sentences in prison.
On the day of the verdict, Mustafa Balbay, a journalist and elected member of parliament who was sentenced to almost 35 years in prison, shouted: "It's going to be a hot autumn!"
Indeed, this week marked the 90th anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's CHP (Republican People's) Party. Ataturk, the Father of the secular, democratic Republic of Turkey, established the CHP on September 9, 1923. To mark the anniversary, CHP displays that celebrated freedom and democracy appeared around Turkey.
Ak Party Prime Minister Erdogan, in anticipation of possible protests to mark CHP's anniversary, sent bus loads of police to cities and towns throughout Turkey. In Taksim, near Gezi Park, police patrolled with riot gear and attack vehicles as peaceful tourists strolled along Taksim's crowded Istiklal Avenue. Turks are clever, however, and the anticipated protests did not begin until Tuesday evening, September 10.
In Izmit, Kocaeli a large group marched through the main walking street at 9:30 p.m., shouting freedom slogans as cars honked in support. Larger groups gathered in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and other cities throughout Turkey. Police attacked protesters with water canon, tear gas, and plastic bullets. One young man died after being hit in the head by a gas canister. A 14-year-old boy was left in a coma this summer after being hit in the head by a gas canister on his way to buy bread, 19 other people have been in Intesnive Care, 10 people were blinded, and over 8000 suffered injuries.
Continuing his media censorship, Erdogan made sure that these new protests were not covered by the Turkish news. Few people in the world even heard about them. On the night of the recent protests, Turkish television news channels covered events like the new, 60-million-dollar "Glass Mosque" project that will tower on a hill above Istanbul, a city with over 3000 mosques and only a handful of churches or synagogues. Many Turks work long hours for low pay and barely survive. One man who was wounded while on prison guard duty, never received compensation from Erdogan's government and barely lives on a small pension. Many wonder how this happens as Erdogan's family enjoys their vast fortunes and sponsor yet another expensive building that cannot house people.
On October 29, Turks will celebrate Ataturk and the 90-year anniversary of the Turkish Republic's birth. It will be interesting to see how Erdogan reacts and if he is at all worried by what happened to the Islamist President of Egypt.
"We are Turks. We cannot forget Ataturk and freedom. We need a secular democracy, not Islamic law," one Turkish man declared. "The protesters' voices cannot be silenced."
Union protesters march peacefully through downtown Izmit  near Istanbul
Union protesters march peacefully through downtown Izmit, near Istanbul
The police attack vehicle that chased tourists in Taksim and shot pepper spray
The police attack vehicle that chased tourists in Taksim and shot pepper spray
Police hide behind their shields in Taksim
Police hide behind their shields in Taksim
A lone protester faces police in Taksim
A lone protester faces police in Taksim
Turkish Protests News
A Turkish business owner holds up Ataturk s portrait in Istanbul
A Turkish business owner holds up Ataturk's portrait in Istanbul
Antoni George Sadik
Police battle protesters at Taksim Square in Istanbul
Police battle protesters at Taksim Square in Istanbul
Turkish Protests News
Islamists near Istanbul protest in support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria
Islamists near Istanbul protest in support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan seeks to establish Islamic law in Turkey  as he sponsors projects lik...
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan seeks to establish Islamic law in Turkey, as he sponsors projects like this new, multi-million-dollar mosque in Istanbul that rises near exclusive residence towers
More about gezi park, Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey, Protests
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