Union militant murdered at Turkish election rally

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Devrim
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May 31 2011 20:06
Union militant murdered at Turkish election rally
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Protests, death mar Turkish PM Erdoğan's election rally in Hopa
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Nine people were wounded and six others were overcome by pepper gas sprayed by the police, Hopa State Hospital authorities told the Hürriyet Daily News over the phone. DHA photo

Nine people were wounded and six others were overcome by pepper gas sprayed by the police, Hopa State Hospital authorities told the Hürriyet Daily News over the phone. DHA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s election rally Tuesday in Hopa was marred by protests that resulted in the death of one local resident and the injury of one of the prime minister’s bodyguards.

The bodyguard fell from the top of the prime minister’s bus and was transferred to a hospital in nearby Trabzon for treatment, the Doğan news agency reported, adding that he was in serious condition.

The Anatolia news agency reported, however, that the police officer fell after being hit by a rock thrown at the bus in Hopa, a city on the Georgian border.

Metin Lokumcu, a retired teacher, died in the hospital due to a heart attack, reportedly after collapsing during a police crackdown in the city. Lokumcu’s friends said he was kicked by a police officer while already on the ground due to the gas bombs used by the police.

Nine people were wounded and six others were overcome by pepper gas sprayed by the police, Hopa State Hospital authorities told the Hürriyet Daily News over the phone.

Sedat Varan, the owner of the local newspaper 08 Haber Gazetesi, told the Daily News that the number of protesters was 100 at most but that the tension was still high in Hopa.

“The relatives of Lokumcu and some protesters gathered in front of the Hopa State Hospital, demanding to take the body,” he said. “The officials denied the request as the body was sent to be autopsied and the gendarmerie took over control from the police in the district.”

Varan said another protest was expected at the funeral ceremony scheduled for Wednesday.

Suat Kılıç, the deputy parliamentary group leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, claimed the protests in Hopa were “proof of the close relationship” between the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, and the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP.

“Just like the BDP supporters, the CHP supporters helped by throwing rocks, invading squares and [holding] illegal protests,” Kılıç told reporters in Samsun. “The biggest threat to democracy now is the fury of the CHP. Of course, this fury will be answered by the people in the June 12 elections.”

İsmet Şahin, who sought to be a BDP-supported candidate from Istanbul’s 2nd Region, said the protests in Hopa were organized by thousands of people.

He also said the prime minister had bused in supporters from the provinces of Trabzon and Rize because AKP officials could not get Hopa residents to join the rally.

“Hopa locals have resisted other rightist parties entering the district as well, and the AKP was warned three days ago not to organize the meeting,” Şahin said. “But the prime minister stubbornly changed the location of the meeting from the Artvin city center to Hopa, where leftist groups have the political power.”

Protests and clashes between the police and the protesters continued for the whole day, although they were not covered by television channels.

According to Şahin, police kicked Lokumcu for not standing up and doctors also reported signs of physical mistreatment and broken bones.

“This is a critical moment. The prime minister has been sufficiently informed by his advisers as well, and came [to the city] aware of what the consequences could be,” Şahin said, adding that no other ministers or prime ministers had visited Hopa before.

“Hopa has similarly resisted other rightist leaders as well. [Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, leader] Devlet Bahçeli respected this, and did not come to Hopa,” he said.

According to Şahin, the situation is critical, particularly for young people. “There might be more protests [in the coming days],” he said.

The protests in Hopa started before Erdoğan’s arrival in the coastal town. A group of demonstrators hung a huge banner, reading “Erdoğan, get out of Hopa,” on a building overseeing the square where the prime minister would hold his rally. Another building in the square bore a huge banner for the main opposition CHP.

The guy referred to in the paragraph in bold was a founding member of the left-wing teachers union Eğitim-Sen in that city.

Devrim

mikail firtinaci's picture
mikail firtinaci
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May 31 2011 22:01

Demonstrations occured in Istanbul and Ankara today about the murder of Lokumcu. Heavy clashed with polices. In Ankara there was about 90 arrests.

you can find videos from the demos from this link:

http://www.sendika.org/yazi.php?yazi_no=37657

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Steven.
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May 31 2011 23:25

Bastards…

Is this quite uncommon in contemporary Turkey?

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mikail firtinaci
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Jun 1 2011 05:46

The issue is Erdogan and his police is terrorising the country in higher levels...
the leftists sites are reporting that there was point operations by the police all night in Hopa town and villages. It seems there is a practical martial law situation and the telephone lines are cut. Tens of people are reported to be on the black list...

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KARABAS
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Jun 1 2011 14:42

Uncommon? It's something of a daily occurrence.

The rally in Hopa was based on many factors (upcoming elections, police brutality, fascism), but this region is currently in resistance against the recent privatization of hydro-electric projects in Turkey. Essentially, the projects are destroying the land which people have been depending on for thousands of years.

More information about the struggle:
http://vermeyoz.net/

And a great film put together by this organization intended to spread awareness to the people of Anatolia (with English subs)
http://vimeo.com/21679494

redsdisease
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Jun 3 2011 18:05

Are there any further updates on this situation? I haven't been commenting on this thread, because I don't have much to add, but I am trying to follow this. It's hard to get information about it elsewhere, as I don't speak Turkish and it's dropped off of English language news media.

KARABAS wrote:
Uncommon? It's something of a daily occurrence.

Do you mean the protests themselves, or the murdering of protesters?

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mikail firtinaci
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Jun 3 2011 22:19

There are continuing police operations in the town (Hopa) and its villages. It is reported in a liberal paper that, about 50 people (including a mentaly ill person) have been arrested and tortured. 10 people are in death strike (a kind of hunger strike) right now.

Today police attack a demonstration occured in protest of what happened in Hopa which took place in Düzce (a city close to Istanbul).

The situation is really terrible. But you should not get the idea that this is affecting the general mood. There is a general blackout in the media on this scandal. The prime minister even said that "I heard that a people died.. I think he was ill anyway". The only difference between Libya and Turkey is we choose our torturers ourselves but Libyans don't...

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KARABAS
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Jun 4 2011 15:59
redsdisease wrote:
Do you mean the protests themselves, or the murdering of protesters?

Sorry, I meant protests ending in police brutality. Deaths are not uncommon, but they aren't a daily occurrence.

Yes, there isn't much English language coverage of the situation, or even Turkish language, other than what gets watered-down in mainstream media.

Like Mikail said, the protests are continuing in other regions as people are demanding justice for what happened. There was a protest in the Sisli district of Istanbul on thursday as well, which ended in many arrests.