Özgecan Aslan (22 October 1995 – 11 February 2015) was a Turkish university student who was murdered as she resisted a rape attempt on 11 February 2015 on a minibus in Mersin. Her burnt body was discovered on 13 February, causing nationwide outrage and sparking protests across the country on the following days.
After Özgecan’s death, women spoke out against violence, harrassment, and other forms of male domination under the hashtag #sendeanlat. We translated some of these stories to English under #tellyourstory hashtag.
+ .elephant woman. (civilvvars)
I carry pepper spray in my pocket or in the most accessible compartment of my bag since 2007. It was my father’s gift to me for getting into the university.
+ ezgi bozkurt (ezgibozkurt)
It’s when it’s night and the street is dark and deserted, and you are walking home, and you either turn off the music or take off one of the headphones on your ear, to notice in case someone walks behind you.
+ ezgi hanımlar (ezgihanimlar)
During Gezi protests, on my way to the park, 3 cops stopping me saying “come here baby, resist on our laps”, and me keeping silent to avoid making a scene.
+ elif key (elif key)
It’s when you are a small kid, and your father teaches you which part to kick to in a man’s body if he approaches you too much.
+ Tisikkirler Kilibink (kelebenk)
Have you ever had your panty liner pack covered with a newspaper in the shop? Were you ever made to hide your fertility?
+ Ezgi Ceren (dulcistar)
2012 – job interview. I say my salary expectation. Well known president of the agency says “You think you are worth that much, eh?”
+Killer Queen (hotarubisama) My first kiss was with the postman. He caught me in a corner in the entrance of our apartment, and ran away when he heard my father’s voice. I was 11.
There isn’t any woman here who isn’t familiar with the fear Özgecan had felt while the minibus was driven to an isolated place. We were only luckier.
I would write a male name on the door bell so that no one would understand I was living alone in the house as a female student
+ İronik Kadın (@mydrugrock)
I never forget: on the way home, my mother taking her phone out and pretending to talk to my father, just because she saw two men coming towards us on the street.
+ Hanife (@sukker_jente)
‘The bus is full, I’ll wait for the next one.’
‘The bus is empty, I’ll wait for the next one.’
That’s more or less it.
+ 25 students in Sarıyer Mustafa Kemal Anatolian Highschool (İstanbul) dressed in black for mourning. The principal didn’t let them in and said “If you are so sorry, stay at home and pray.”
+ In Turkey, only in 2014,
281 women were murdered,
109 women and girls were raped,
+ Neslişah Arslan (MeryemNesli)
Bus is one thing. But we keep men’s shoes in front of the door of our flat to hide we are alone at home.
+ göklin (pembisfloyd)
The asshole who held my hand in the bus and said “Are you sure about where you’re going to?”. He was my grandfather’s age.
+ Tansu Karaca (ahdedimsonra)
My first sexual harrassment experience was in the swimming pool. I was 11 when I first met these monsters.
+ yolanda (cemrehnm)
Working 8 hours for a few cents, always standing.. and he comes and asks “How about we buy you instead of this parfume?”
+ In the last 15 years
– 241 police officers
– 91 soldiers
– 17 SWAT militia
– 15 rangers
– 45 guardians
were put on trial for rape accusations. None was punished.
+Aylin Balboa (AylinBalboa)
I know that my friend, who was raped brutally by the man she loved, silently reads this hashtag.
+göründüğü gibi değil (ticaridevamet)
I’ve been wearing headscarf for years. These perverts don’t care whether you’re veiled or not. Never think of dressing yourself according to them!
I wonder how many women saw a penis for the first time when it was shown to us on the street. Mine was like that. I was 9 years old.
On the two occasions that I was harassed and complained to the police, they told me “you are beautiful tho” and “one can’t resist catcalling you”
I have two pocket knives and a pepper spray in my bad. For a 10-minute walk, I go equipped like Tomb Raider.
+ Arya ^^ (@aryalera)
Ice cream, damn it, just plain ice cream. Would one abstain from eating ice cream on the street? Well, that’s the way it is.
+ Filiiiiiz (@filizksnglu)
It’s when men read stories tagged #tellyourstory and say “I am petrified, I cannot believe it.”, and when women read and don’t even get surprised about any.
+ Damla (@damla_aydin_)
The bestfriend of your partner encounters you in the toilet entrance in the middle of the night, and says ‘How about you confuse which room to enter?’. Having breakfast with that guy in the same table tomorrow morning.
+ Zümrüt (@ZmrtEsirogluu)
She shouldn’t have gone out all alone as a girl, they say. She was dressed indecently, they say. She shouldn’t have used the bus, they say. And they never say, A human being was killed today.
+ Sanem @talkingmia:
Whenever I filed a complaint on harrassment, I was further harrassed by the police and the public prosecutor. Not once did they fail to do it.
It’s when you enter your flat but do not turn on the lights so that they outside wouldn’t notice which flat is yours.
Here is how it goes: There is a problem. The problem has causes as well as effects. You can and should talk about the causes and the effects. But please do not ignore that there is a problem.
And here, more concretely.
Take any of the followings: Charlie Hebdo attacks (France), Mohammed’s caricature crisis (Denmark), Islamic State (Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan), Boko Haram (Nigeria, Niger and Chad), Iranian government, Al Qaida, Al Nusra front (Syria), Saudi Arabian oligarchy, Hamas (Palestine), United Arab Emirates, Turkish government, Muslim brothers (Egypt), Sudan’s Islamic rule, National Liberation Army / Free Libyan Army (Libya).
If you think these are all exceptional, isolated incidents that have nothing in common, please go back to sleep.
If you think we have a problem, we can move on.
Many European leftists are infected by a tragically cool analysis-obsession, which focuses only on causes and effects, and never on the problem.
Yes, discriminatory and racist policies are causes of radical reactionary movements inside Europe. Yes, imperialist policies are causes of radical reactionary movements all around the world. Yes, lack of a meaningful life in austerity-ruled neoliberal world is a cause of Europeans subscribing to radical reactionary movements.
So yes, causes exists and we all know them.
And yes, these Islamist groups and actions will be used by extreme right as well as “regular” right to increase discriminatory policies. Yes, immigration policy will be further restricted using these incidents as an excuse. Yes, racist and nazi groups will rally and make attacks to minority communities.
So yes, this problem in front of us will cause other, perhaps more dangerous, problems.
But you know why racist and/or nationalist policies have been gaining support since decades? Because they address the problem !
They admit there is a problem, and they propose a solution to the society.
And what is the solution of the left?
Seriously, tomorrow we give you all the political power. Yes, to you, we’ll give all political power directly to you. Let us further assume that your “contextualized” analyses have been super-fruitful, so you eliminate all the causes overnight. Now what? You think the problem will just disappear?
We must name the problem. We must stand against the problem. And we must propose a solution. There is no other way out. European left cannot continue ignoring the problem itself.
And yes, you guessed it right: The problem is called Islam. Better said, the problem is that Islam has a huge influence on the social sphere.
Islamism is a heterogeneous social movement. It has its ideological background, its political vision, its leaders and its strategy. And, whether we like it or not, their objective is called “Islamic rule”. Get on with it.
And in fact, we happen to have a solution to this since centuries. It’s called secularism !
Pretty simple, actually: Religious affairs should be taken out of the social sphere. Earthly issues must be decided upon in a secular way. Period.
So why are we talking about whether this or that Islamism is “extreme”? What if it is not “extreme”? Why are you asking the opinions of imams and religious leaders? Why are they experts on human rights? Why are so many Europeans all of a sudden become a policemen (“Je Suis Ahmed”) simply because he was a Muslim and was protecting Charlie Hebdo’s office? What makes anyone think that he is the real Muslim? And what if he were not a Muslim? Why are talking about his religion? Wasn’t secularism the idea that one’s religious beliefs do not interfere in one’s social life? Why is Ahmed becoming a Muslim hero and not a secular hero? And for Zeus’ sake, why are we discussing “real” Islam? Why are we discussing theology?
We invite you, we implore you, and we challenge you: Defend secularism unconditionally.
We want a world where human rights, morality, laws, rules and the social structure is not based on an arbitrary interpretation of a particular religious catechism.
And you know what? This saves you a lot of trouble at once. Because this is how one fights against Islamophobia too ! (People and/or institutions should not behave to people based on their religion.) This is how one fights against extreme right too ! (They defend “Christian values” against immigrants, remember?) And in fact, this is how one fights a range of imperialist policies too ! Why are imperialist powers supporting, arming and training anti-secularist movements in all Middle East and North Africa? Why are imperialist powers financing and collaborating with anti-secularist political parties? You name it.
So, once again:
We invite you, we implore you, and we challenge you: Defend secularism unconditionally, and defend it militantly.
On July 2nd, 1993, 33 human beings, 33 Alevi’s, 33 intellectuals were burned alive in Sivas. After the Friday prayer, people who left the mosque with cries of allahuekber [Allah is the greatest], gasoline cans in hand, set them on fire… centuries after the “Dark” Age. They killed the ones who played saz the best, who painted the best, who laughed the best. Following the teachings of Haji Bektash Veli, following his lines which read “Do not hurt others, even if you are hurt.”, it was said this was not real Islam, that real Muslims would not take lives. Yet we didn’t see a single Muslim denouncing the massacre.
In 1978, in Maraş, once again those who shout allahuekber, who shout “War in the name of Allah”, chopped off the heads of children with axes. We saw images dead bodies of women and old people in photos, in narratives. Not a single soul of Allah said this was cruelty, not a single soul of Allah tried to stop the cruelty. We did not see, we did not hear. We waited for real Muslims. We thought maybe they would come and help carry the coffins. Not a single Muslim appeared.
In Çorum, they attacked Alevi neighbourhoods under the pretext of a rumour that said Alevis burnt a mosque. As in Maraş, as in Sivas, hundreds of innocent souls were massacred. The rumour was false. Not a single person said it was a sin in Islam to lie.
And again, all the way until today, until this very moment, ISIS gangs have been slaughtering people in Shengal and Kobane for months. They carry a spoon around their necks to be able to eat rice in heaven. They carry a key in their pockets to unlock the gates of heaven. And they have their guns in their hands. We waited for someone to announce that this was not the path to heaven, that this was not compatible with Islam. We waited in vain.
In Paris, in an attack on the humor magazine Charlie Hebdo, 12 people were slaughtered. Immediately afterwards discussions on Islamophobia started. All those sentences were lined up again: This is not real Islam, real Muslims do not massacre people, Islam is a religion of tolerance.
What is real Islam, what is not real Islam, who is a real Muslim? Who will decide these, which criteria will be used? Given that so many murders were committed in the name of Islam, are the victims supposed to go and find real Muslims, or study the Islamic catechism?
I don’t know where real Muslims live, what they eat, what they drink. But I’d like to ask. Will you protect a person who accidentally smokes in Erzurum during Ramadan from lynching? When a diabetic person in Bayburt goes to the kiosk and asks for water during Ramadan, or rather, when this person is stabbed because he did so, will you call the ambulance? Will you accompany him to the hospital? Will you keep watch against those who put signs on Alevis’ houses? Will you take the gas and lighter off the hands of those who came to burn people? Etc. etc. Once these questions are answered affirmatively, we will all know who is real and who is not. And these discussions will come to an end.
And a few words on Islamophobia. One does not become islamophobic by saying he/she fears radical Islamists. It’s not that easy. Allow people to be afraid of Boko Haram, an organization that kills 2000 in a single day. We know more or less what Islamophobia is. We also know that it’s a weapon for European right-wing militants and fascists. Don’t you worry; most of those who took to the streets in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, will do so again when fascists slaughter Muslims, immigrants, Jews, or Romani. The real Muslims need not doubt it.
According to our compilation based on news items published in media, reports of labor organizations, and testimonies of workers and their families, at least 1235 workers died in 2013.
Work murder, not work accident …
As The Assembly for Workers’ Health and Work Security, we document deaths at workplace. The criteria for our documentation is as follows:
1- According to Turkish Statistical Institute data, approximately 30 614 000 people were employed in 2013. In our reports, we do not use the legal restrictions. This means, we include work accidents of all the workers, including domestic work, security sector, shopkeepers, farmer, public sector, and non-citizen workers.
2- Laws use the term “work health”. This wording designates a mindset based on the health of work (that is, the efficiency of the enterprise, its profitability etc) and not the health of the worker. Therefore, we will use “worker’s health” in our report.
3- Our main assumption is that all work accidents are avoidable. As workers’ deaths can be prevented, we do not use “work accident” to define the incidents and instead use “work murder.”
4- We do not focus only on workers with social insurance who died at the workplace or in the shuttle buses. We also include the death of precarious and non-insured workers; and we consider all the labor process, including transportation, alimentation etc.
5- Due to our lack of personnel as the Assembly, we have access only to a part of the deaths. Therefore, we emphasize the words “at least” in our report.
Work murders by sector
Construction (including road construction): 294
Agriculture and Forestry: 198
Trade, Offices, Education, Cinema: 95
Metal works: 79
Municipalities and Public Services: 36
Accommodation and Entertainment: 24
Food and Sugar: 23
Cement, Soil, Glass: 22
Petrochemical works and Rubber: 19
Timber and Paper: 19
Docks, Harbors and other sea sectors: 18
Health and Social Services: 15
Media and Journalism: 7
Work murders are concentrated in areas of seasonal employment, where trade unions do not exist, and in areas under precarious working conditions. We should further add that in sectors such as textile, metal and food production, if the work murder happened inside the factory, we have less chance of obtaining that information.
Work murders by cause
Traffic and car accidents: 433
Collapse and wreckage: 222
Explosion and fire: 79
Electric shock: 79
Poisoning and suffocation: 60
Getting hit by objects: 33
Others (including heart attack, suicide, lightning, assault): 129
Work murders by gender
Work murders by age
14 and under: 18
over 51: 189
(144 could not be determined)
Turkish law defines “those who are 14 years old but under 15 years old, and who finished her/his basic education” as children workers; and “those who are over 15 and under 18 years old” as young workers. However, children enter the labor market at an earlier age to “earn their bread.”
According to a report published by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, among the 15 247 000 children of ages between 6-17, some 893 000 work. Although forbidden 292 000 children aged between 6 and 14 are stated to work too. Work prevents children from going to school. According to the report, 20% of those 292 000 children do not continue their compulsory education. Same applies to high schools, as 66% of young workers quit school for work.
The main reason of child labor is the poverty of their families. Child labor is also a prototype of unregulated, precarious work. In 2013, child and young workers constitute 5.4% of the work murders. This means that of every 20 workers who lost their lives, one is a child or young worker who works due to poverty.
On the other hand, the Social Security Institution states that only 1 young worker died in 2012. Similarly, as a response to a parliamentary question, the Minister of Work and Social Security declared that in 2012 only 5960 children were working. These statements show a clear attempt of state authorities to hide child labor.
One method of child labor is seasonal employment in construction and agriculture. Especially girls are employed for picking the crops; and they are exceptionally over-consumed as girls are also expected to the housework. Boys are employed more on construction, in which they are expected to do hard work together with adults.
Apprenticeship and internships for child and young workers operates via a cooperation of the Ministry of Education and enterprises in industrial zones. Long working hours, intensive work and low wages are characteristic of this type of child employment. As apprentices, half of the grade of the student is given by his employer. Hence, intensive work and low wages are the rule. Vocational schools have become subcontractors of big businesses. A new restructuring of vocational schools (a joint work of Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Security, and European Union) emphasized reforms at schools based on the priorities of markets. Accordingly, the “quality” of high schools students are determined by their performance; which brought about lack of control over work security. In industrial zones, young workers are exposed to poisonings, explosions and ruptures. They further suffer professional diseases due to carrying heavy weights, bad air quality and chemicals at work.
Female worker murders are understated in state statistics. According to Social Security Institution data, only 9 women died at work in 2012.
Our data shows that in 2013, 103 woman laborers lost their lives at work. This corresponds to 8.4% but we shall emphasize again: We do not know. Seasonal agricultural labor and domestic work remain undocumented in official statistics, and we have limited access to the real conditions of female workers.
Almost half of women workers are employed in agriculture and the big majority also does gratis housework for her family. While working in the farm all day long, women are also taken responsible to take care of the house and children.
Among women workers, 15% work in industry and 35% work in the service sector. Most of these women are also doing gratis housework.
İstanbul İşçi Sağlığı ve İş Güvenliği Meclisi
The Turkish original of this report, written by The Assembly for Workers’ Health and Work Security (İşçi Sağlığı ve İş Güvenliği Meclisi), was published on January 13th, 2014, months before the mine explosion in Soma. The original report consists of 20 pages and contains a very detailed analysis of the working conditions in Turkey, including the full list of workers who died at work. As part of our “Why revolt in Turkey?” series, we translated parts of it that we thought were exceptionally indicative of the conditions of the working class in Turkey.
This is a brief and incomplete compilation of what AKP leaders said about women, gender equality and feminism. It is part of our monthly theme “Why revolt in Turkey?”. Note that this is clearly not a list of all sexist or patriarchal discourse in Turkey. We aimed at a less ambitious goal of restricting our attention to AKP politicians.
“There was someone, I don’t know if she was a girl or a woman.”
Tayyip Erdoğan / on Dilşat Aktaş. [‘girl’ in Turkish language implicitly refers to virginity]
“Violence against women is exaggerated.”
Tayyip Erdoğan / on the 1400% increase in women murders in the last 7 years.
“I don’t believe in gender equality anyway.”
Tayyip Erdoğan / in his meeting with women’s associations.
“Those who say ‘My body, my decision’ are all feminists.”
Tayyip Erdoğan / on abortion.
“I consider abortion as murder.”
Tayyip Erdoğdan / on abortion.
“Raped women shall have the baby anyway, the state will take care of if necessary.”
Recep Akdağ, Minister of Health, AKP / on abortion.
“The raper is more innocent that the victim who has an abortion.”
Ayhan Sefer Üstün, AKP deputy and Chairman of Human Right Commission in the Parliament / on abortion.
“Women who got raped should not have an abortion. In Bosnia, women were raped but they still gave birth.”
Ayhan Sefer Üstün, AKP deputy and Chairman of Human Right Commission in the Parliament / on abortion.
“A woman should be moral so that she is never obliged to have an abortion.”
I. Melih Gökçek, AKP Mayor of Ankara / on abortion.
“If the mother is raped, so what? Why should the child die? Let the mother die.”
I. Melih Gökçek, AKP Mayor of Ankara / on abortion.
“They should have taken care of their daughter.”
Celalettin Cerrah, High-Ranking Officer in the Police Department / on the murder of Münevver Karabulut (18 yrs old)
“Media exaggerates. Violence against women is just about selective perception.”
Fatma Şahin, AKP Minister of Family and Social Policies.
“Isn’t domestic work enough?”
Veysel Eroğlu, AKP Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs / to a woman who asked for a job.
“Unemployment is high because women seek for jobs.”
Mehmet Şimşek, AKP Minister of Finance
“When girls study, men are not able to find girls to marry.”
Erhan Ekmekçi, AKP, member of Kargı Municipal Assembly
“A non-covered woman is like a house without curtains. A house without curtains is either for sale or for rent.”
Süleyman Demirci, AKP Ünye Public Relations Director / on headscarf.
“My intention is to go all the way up to four. Polygamy is a way of divine service. I do not get permission from my other wives when I get a new wife, and I’m not supposed to.”
Ali Yüksel, advisor of Tayyip Erdoğan / on the questions relating his three wives.
“Having a second wife is part of our culture. People should form affinities by getting a second wife from the East. This would help to solve the Kurdish issue, and the state should encourage this practice.”
Halil Bakırcı, AKP Mayor of Rize / on solutions for the Kurdish issue.
I am one of many who got detained on May Day in Beşiktaş, Istanbul. I wrote this text because I think everyone (and not only my family and friends) should know that what we experienced was unlawful.
May Day was not a holiday in the advertising agency I work. Early in the morning I left my house for work, but I was not able to catch the bus because police would not let me go to the main avenue.
I took another street but all streets leading to the main avenue were blocked by the police. I encountered two taxis, they were available but they said they were also not allowed to the avenue. So I started walking in the opposite direction. My idea was to walk around the police barricades and reach my workplace.
I had to walk all the way until the headquarters of the trade union, DISK. I passed the crowd in front of the union, and finally managed to cross to the other side of the avenue. Then I tried to make another detour to reach the crossroads that would take me to my destination. It was also not possible.
I realized it was past 10 am. I quickened my steps and went down a street to reach another crossroads. There, I decided to go up the hill but a group of protesters told me that police wouldn’t let anyone pass. Even so, I gave it a try and after 200 meters I saw the police sending people back. There was nothing to do, so I also walked back. When I reached downtown, I noticed some conflicts.
I went to a shop to get tobacco and, to avoid the conflicts, decided to walk up a street. All of a sudden, I heard a bunch of people running up the street towards me. As they approached I started running with them, but we saw another group in front of us running down the street. We were trapped. Some 200 people were trying to hide in a building. Cops were approaching. I tried to enter the same building but as we were so many I gave up and hid myself behind the wall between the building and its yard. There were two more people with me. The cops were really close. We told each other to keep silent and waited. Near the entrance of the yard, 20-25 officers of riot police were standing. We were able to see them, but they couldn’t see us. They were discussing how to get the people who entered the building. Just then, one of them shouted “They are here, in the yard.” There was nothing we could do. First we didn’t show ourselves, but they shot rubber bullets and we had to come out. I left my hiding place and headed towards the door, and the torture started.
One cop opened the gate, pulled me, and kicked me in my testicles. While falling down, another seized me and dragged me out. My sunglasses fell down, a cop deliberately stepped on it and broke it into pieces. They joined my hands on my back, put plastic handcuffs, and forced me to walk. When I was walking a cop asked another protesters “Are you a faggot?” When he said “No”, the response was “Fine, you’ll be a faggot soon! You are a faggot now!”
The cop who seized my arm had a stick in his hand. We paused for a moment and an undercover police officer asked him what it was, he answered “We found it in this guy, my chief” and tried to give it to my hands. To avoid leaving fingerprints on it, I clenched my hands. He was slyly hitting my hands to open them but, realizing that his efforts were in vain, he later threw the stick away. They could walk us down to Beşiktaş Square very easily in this position. However, “to make an example” they made several detours through smallar streets. They would constantly insult us and trap us to make us fall.
Finally we reached the traffic lights next the square. There, Mahmut Tanal (I later learned he was a CHP deputy, he never left us alone afterwards) tried to take us from the police. Cops hit him, and me too… They sprayed pepper gas from a very short distance to get rid of him, then put me inside a police vehicle. I was surrounded by 15 cops. They bent my head so I couldn’t see anything.
My head down, one cop pulled my beard, another pulled my earrings to hurt my ears, yet another one put his hands under my sleeves to bleed my shoulders, and yet another one hit me on the head. I realized that I was being lynched there. Determined that I must resist physically, I started to flutter and kick around. I shouted the one who was pinching my shoulders “Why do you pinch me? Hit me like a man!” and they sprayed pepper gas to my right eye from 1-2 cm distance. When I raised my head, I saw a police officer in phosphorous green uniform (I can identify him very easily, I don’t think I can forget this ugly character) stretching to hit me with a thick pipe in his hand. Just when he charged to hit, I jumped towards him so that he couldn’t hit me in the face. So, he only managed to hit my back.
Two cops took me away from there and put me inside a civilian car. They sat to my sides and took me to the police station. In the police station, my eye was hurting like hell, tears were still flowing and I couldn’t see anything.
Seated, they gave me gas masks and helmets, and asked if they were mine. I did not touch anything and told them they weren’t mine.
They handed me a document stating things like “opposition to the law on meetings and demonstrations, destroying public property and insulting the police”. There was nothing I could do, so I signed it. (Later we invalidated the document because my lawyer was not with me at the moment.)
I was taken to Istinye Public Hospital to get a medical report. The medic wrote “redness” for the damage in my eye. I was still in shock, I didn’t say anything. I later learned that the cornea was torn and my already existing astigmatism increased by 300%.
They kept us in Beşiktaş Police Department until 8 pm. Meanwhile, Progressive Lawyers Association as well as CHP deputy Kadir Öğüt was always with us. They helped us a lot, and provided food and drinks. We were questioned in the presence of our lawyers. We were then informed that we would be transferred to Istanbul Police Headquarters. The lawyers told us that they were doing their best for our release but that we might have to spend the night there. We were already demoralized enough.
They put us in police buses and took us to the Headquarters. Our mobile phones (which, until then, were on and with us) were taken away. They searched us, and took away everything including shoelaces. Due to lack of space, they put us into the jails of the anti-terrorism section. My right eye was red and swelled, tears still flowing. When we entered the jail, they told us they will make a “detailed search”. They undressed us, until we were left with our underpants. We were already guessing that they would abuse the female protesters that came with us.
I told them that I must go to a hospital because of my eye. One of them said he could take me to the toilet so I wash my face. I said “This cannot be washed away, don’t you see?” They told me they’d take to a hospital, and put us into a cell for three people. Inside the cells, the lights were always on and there were no mirrors nor clocks. The cops would give us wrong answers when we asked the time. I demanded to visit a hospital at 12 am but was taken only at 4 am. They took me to Haseki Hospital. I asked for a cigarette but the cops didn’t give me even though they themselves were smoking. Seeing that I was accompanied by cops, the doctor briefly looked at my eye, told me that I was fine, and wrote a prescription. The prescription had no stamps, no signatures, no names on it… As I didn’t see my lawyer yet, I still keep it with me.
The next day when we were taken to the hospital for medical report, we were handcuffed and treated badly. The doctors did their best to understate the bruises. After we took the reports, one girl refused to be handcuffed. A police officer pulled her hair and swore at her.
Our breakfast in jail consisted of a expired 20 gram pack of cream cheese, one pack of jam, and one pack of butter. Together with it, expired bottled water and some stale bread. The first day we lacked the necessary consciousness and ate what they gave us. But in the following 48 hours we didn’t eat anything. They asked if we were on hunger strike. Those who declared they were on hunger strike received only water and sugar from then on.
To go to toilet, we had to wave our hands to the camera in the cell. When we shouted, they either wouldn’t hear or ignore us. So, we would force them to come by covering the camera with our blankets.
When the prosecutor requested to extend the detention period, they tried to make us sign a document, on which accusations including “throwing Molotov cocktails” and “carrying bomb equipment” were stated. We declined to sign. Of course, police treated us in a ridiculously violent way. As if we were guilty, they tried to take photos of us and get our fingerprints.
There was one thing in their daily routine, which was that they had to ask us if we want to make a phone call and inform our family. Everybody said yes and gave a phone number to be called. Only when we got out did we learn that none of those numbers were called and no one was informed.
After 6 days without law, regulation, sleep and food, we were taken to Çağlayan Courthouse at 6.30 am. They made us wait there until late at night. We were very bored while waiting. We made a ball from tinfoil, the package material for the food our lawyers brought us. Of course this was until the ball went a little too far and a cop shot it even further away. Fortunately, we managed to make another one.
While waiting to be brought before the prosecutor, police deliberately gave us incorrect information. A police officer said we would be released right away. He pretended to talk on the phone and said out loud stuff like “Let them free”, so that we would be disappointed later on. Yet, as days went by, we became conscious of these tricks. We danced, played games, even organized a forum.
When brought before the prosecutor, he stated “The person detained due to suspicion is in fact a victim” and declared not to proceed further.
It was a bad experience, but I am glad to have witnessed the unlawful behavior of the state of Turkish Republic. I already detested it, now I have solid evidence for my dislike: what I went through…
Life goes on, as it does. The bruises in my body are getting better. But the real problem is my eye. They told me it would take 3-4 months to recover. In any case, I will collect all my medical reports and seek my rights. I intend to appeal to the Court of Human Rights. And I am confident that there are hundreds, even thousands of courageous lawyers who believe in justice. I am sure that the righteous people are on my side.
Yet, after all that I told you, do you want to know my final words?
I am ashamed and disgusted to be a citizen of the Turkish Republic.
The spirit of this century seems to be one of mass struggles and highly confrontational demonstrations. Every morning, we wake up to hear about a huge protest in some distant part of the planet. It turns more and more difficult to follow what is going on here and there.
But why are all these people revolting all around the world?
One good answer is that they revolt for one and the same reason: Capitalism, nowadays more fashionably called neo-liberalism, has made it impossible to pursue happiness in any sense of the word (it’s not a very profitable concept anyway), and the time has come for the people to say “Enough is enough.”
An equally good answer is that they revolt for completely different reasons. For capitalism manifests itself in very different forms in different places.
This is not a theoretical text to analyze social movements around the world. We have a less ambitious goal: Give a taste of “Why revolt in Turkey?”
Why did people in Turkey revolt? What kind of reasons led to the uprising that inspired us all?
One year after Gezi protests, we will try to give concrete examples of the oppression that Turkish people have been experiencing… well, for some years, but we will focus on more recent developments.
This is also an open call. If you encounter a news item that you think everybody should know, send it to us. Or if you simply want to share your own anger with everyone, tell us more about it. Or if you have some other idea about our theme, just send us a message.
( outforbeyond [at] riseup.net )
Articles and news items published within this theme:
The election results are, in general, worrisome. Far-right and nationalist parties won in several countries (Denmark, France, England, Austria), and increased their presence in the European Parliament (EP). Another striking feature of these elections (which also happened in 2009) is the abstention rate, which was between 50% and 80% in many countries. The liberals and “socialists” (ex-social-democratic) have, in general, maintained their position in the EP. However, left parties in Spain increased their votes and in Greece Syriza won the elections (with Neo-nazi Golden Dawn in third).
What can we make of this?
Well, to begin with, this should be a wake-up call to all the left, not to underestimate the potential danger of the far-right in the years to come. It should serve as well for a deep and open self-criticism to left parties and their leaderships who, in general, have been increasingly moving into social-democratic positions, even when capitalism presents one of its biggest crises in history.
“What can we make of this? Well, to begin with, this should be a wake-up call to all the left…”
Another conclusion we can draw is the distrust that politics in general has amongst the population. Politics is seen as a dirty business mired in corruption, and a separation between the politicians and the electors. This feeling leads to massive abstention rates and the appearance of populists and mediatic politicians (like Beppe Grillo in Italy).
Another factor which makes me question the work the left has done so far is the “lack of punishment” the so-called centrist parties (liberals and “socialists”) have received after 3 years of austerity. Even in the southern European countries the Left was not able to get many votes from them, with the exception of Syriza.
How is the situation in Portugal? There were comments on the increase of abstention and blank/spoiled ballot papers. Did the parties actually increase their number of votes?
In Portugal, the abstention rate went up to 66% from 63% in 2009. You can see the the voters’ turnout in the figure on the right. The causes for these high percentages are more or less the same as in the rest of Europe: feeling of not being represented, political alienation and distrust to politics in general.
And in absolute terms, the results can be seen below.
“Another factor which makes me question the work the left has done so far is the “lack of punishment” the so-called centrist parties (liberals and “socialists”) have received after 3 years of austerity.”
I think that BE lost its votes to PCP-PEV and LIVRE (a new center-left party). The MPT received protest votes from PSD and CDS electors. And PS grew at the expense of PSD electors who are angry at the current government.
In total, the parties didn’t have as many votes, but it was nothing extraordinary. Typically, the participation in European elections is less than in the national elections, because people feel that EP has little to no power and it’s an institution very distant from the workers’ daily life.
There is a growing concern about the rise of extreme right. Do you share these concerns? How do these concerns translate into the Portuguese election results?
I’m extremely concerned about the rise of fascist and nationalist ideas across Europe. It remains to be seen how the victories mentioned earlier will translate in terms of social struggle. Will anti-immigration speech increase? Will fascist organizations start to act like Golden Dawn, killing immigrants in France, Austria, etc.? Or will these parties, once in the European Parliament participate in milden their policies to melt into an inside-the-system attitude? Marine Le Pen has already called for the resignation of the French government, which definitely arises a concern for the immigrants living in France.
Fortunately, in Portugal there isn’t still a well-known far-right party. The nationalist PNR had 15,000 votes, increasing only by 2.000 votes since 2009. We have to keep an eye on them, but at the moment they are not a threat, in terms of electoral success. However, these victories can encourage fascists into being more aggressive towards immigrants and activists. That is something which must not be discarded, and everywhere the left must be organized to fight against this possibility.
How are the results of radical left? And how are the results for radical left? What do you think is the most important self-criticism that should be done at this moment?
If by radical left, you mean the extra-parliamentary left, then its results were low, as expected (less than 3% in total). Their campaign did not add anything essentially new to the debate and the lack of criticism to capitalism. And the failure to point out an alternative society and political system only made it worse for them, electorally speaking. MRPP (Maoists) talked about leaving the Euro (inside capitalism) and the cancellation of the debt (a proposal I support). The new party MAS (Morenists) concentrated all their campaign in criticizing the “politicians'” privileges and corruption, pointing it as the main cause for the crisis instead of seeing it as a symptom of the peripheral position of Portugal in the imperialist EU.
“These results (at the European level) should indicate, to the Left, that a change in program, perspectives and political practice must occur in order to fight the increase of the far-right and the neoliberal agendas of the EU and pro-capitalist governments.”
If we talk about the parliamentary left, in Portugal its results were mixed. On one hand, PCP-PEV (from Stalinist tradition) increased their number of votes and elected one more deputy than in 2009. They based their campaign in criticism of EU, a patriotic propaganda as a response to the crisis and pushing the Europe of the bosses away – however never clearly criticizing the capitalist system. On the other hand, BE (Left Bloc, from Maoist and Mandelist traditions) lost over 50% of votes compared to 2009. It was a huge defeat for them. They only re-elected one deputy. In part this can be explained by the newly-formed party LIVRE, whose leader was independent who ran for BE in 2009. BE’s campaign was centered around a critique the fiscal and debt policies of EU and a bit about the European Fiscal Compact. However, they fail to criticize EU clearly, pretending to “change it from the inside”. That position and previous internal instability help explain this bad result.
Sometimes one must fall in order to really analyze the positions and practice taken until that time. These results (at the European level) should indicate, to the Left, that a change in program, perspectives and political practice must occur in order to fight the increase of the far-right and the neoliberal agendas of the EU and pro-capitalist governments. Until now, in Portugal, the parliamentary left has been mostly…parliamentary. The Communist Party has a presence in the trade unions and, through it, it’s involved in hundreds of small struggles. BE has practically no coherent presence outside the parliament – that can also be a reason for its downfall. I think that both these parties and also the extra-parliamentary left don’t show a clear alternative to the actual system and continue to be too tied to a bourgeois way of doing politics. This is the most important self-criticism the Left should do.
“Until now, in Portugal, the parliamentary left has been mostly…parliamentary.”
In the long run, we cannot predict what will happen with these parties. BE is in the most precarious position of all. Something has to change until next year, in order for BE to remain a strong left force. The Communist Party will probably celebrate this small victory and won’t change its practice because, well, it ‘won’ an extra deputy and parliamentary democracy is the focus.
In conclusion, I feel that the Left is atomized, with low morale and unable to present a real alternative to the workers. It should look carefully at these results and start preparing for the possible social turmoil that will arise with the increase of far-right and nationalist activity all over Europe.
Editorial note: Mathieu is a political activist in the international Red and Green Alternative network and also takes part in La Bidule. Below is a short interview we made with him right after the Elections to the European Parliament.
“…we are building a European identity by achieving, in common, the worst electoral results”
How do you see the results in Europe, in general?
The results of the European Elections show a real convergence of the national political situation inside the EU. During previous elections, the results were very heterogeneous: communist organizations very present in the south of Europe, ecological movement in the north, social-democrat success here, neo-liberal victory there… This year, the result are converging:
hegemony of what we could call the Christian Social Democrat European mainstream (the Christian Democrat and the Social Democrat organizations who are very close on there European project);
bad results for greens (who were usually the most pro-EU forces);
good results for the far-right movement and for the Euro-skeptics (which are not always the same);
stability for the post-eurocommmunist…
We could go further on national specifics (the very good result of Syriza in Greece, or the good results of the radical and alternative left in Spain (some 20%), the middling results of the Dutch far right …) but I believe the main result is: we are building a European identity by achieving, in common, the worst electoral results.
How is the situation in France? There were comments on the increase abstention and blank/spoiled ballot papers; did parties actually increase their number of votes?
The results in France are bad for the left; and very bad for the Parti Socialiste (PS) of François Hollande with an historically small vote but without any benefit for the other left groups: The Greens lost half of their MEPs, the Left Front didn’t progress and the extreme-left lost 3/4 of their votes.
The reasons for abstention are so different that it’s quite difficult to put a significant message on it: being against elections, against Europe, not finding good candidate, forgetting the election … The media cover of the campaign have been so weak that I’ve met several people who even didn’t knew that the election was only one round.Abstentions were still high (56%). It’s just a bit less than on the other European elections in France, but the fact is that French electors don’t vote in European elections (the French abstention rate is close to the result in the other EU countries). But I won’t put together abstention and blank/spoiled vote.
“The results in France are bad for the left; and very bad for the Parti Socialiste (PS) of François Hollande with an historical small result but without any benefit for the other left.”
On the other hand, I believe that the 548.554 blank ballot papers and the 248.950 spoiled papers (for 19.753.140 votes cast) says a lot about a real criticism of the candidates and the electoral system. Four percent of voters who went on the voting booth said “I don’t agree with your proposal”. This is a lot.
There is a growing concern about the rise of extreme right. Do you share these concerns? What exactly does Le Pen plan to do?
Of course I do. The far-right results are especially high in France. The most problematic thing is that over the years, there was an ideological “Republican cordon” around the National Front. When the National Front (FN) got 10%, it meant that extreme right influence advanced 10%. In the same period, the far right influence in UK – for example- was much bigger than British National Front or BNP electoral result. Things have changed in France with Sarkozy who broke this “Republican cordon”. Racist and authoritarian speech has tainted the right-wing organizations and – even – the socialist party. Our Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, made unpleasant speeches about the number of white people during a meeting, about the choice that French muslim should make between Islam and Republic, about the Roma population … Even on the real left, there are more and more supporters of a “patriotic left”, a concept that you could find in the French left during the 1789 revolution (when the anti-revolutionary European coalition invaded part of the country), and during the Nazi occupation in 1942-45. (The real tradition in the French left is internationalism. Should I remind the colonialist and neo-colonialist tradition of the French policy?) There is no danger for the national territory today, but the impregnation of the right wing ideology gains influence even on the left.
“I believe that the M. Le Pen’s strategy is to become minister in a UMP-NF government like a last step before getting the power. But it’s gonna be very difficult for them to prove being a party ‘like any other’ “
In fact, it’s quite interesting to see that during periods of strong social movement, the far right lost any influence; while during this election campaign – thanks to mainstream media ! – the National Front was seen as the only anti-system organisation.
It’s the balance sheet of this campaign: a strong development of an racist ideology.
The NF strategy is now becoming the first party on the right, and the big crisis which is beginning in the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement, the moderate-right party) could be seen as a proof of viability of this project. But I don’t believe it. Even if NF make great progress, it is still opposed by a huge majority of French people. The real danger is that such a big far right organization will give an opportunity for the PS government to keep his liberal policy and to win an election with only one argument: make a dam against the far-right wave.
On the UMP, the temptation for an alliance with the NF is growing too. I believe that the M. Le Pen’s strategy is to become minister in a UMP-NF government like a last step before getting the power. But it’s gonna be very difficult for them to prove being a party ‘like any other’ (that is able to manage institutions of state) and, at the same time, showing they are still an anti-system party.
How are the results of radical left? And how are the results for radical left? What do you think is the most important self-criticism that should be done at this moment?
The results for the critical left and radical left are saddening: During the previous European elections, the extreme left got 6,08% (Lutte ouvrière and NPA), and the Left Front (FdG) 6,48%. And another 12,56% on the left of greens and PS.
Last Sunday, the FdG got 6,34%, LO 1% and NPA 0,30%. It means 7,64% in all, but in a very different situation. Looking more carefully, it seems the results of the LO didn’t change. The voters of NPA seem to have voted FdG, and a part of the Communist Party voters did not vote. It looks like a move of the vote from left to less left.
“… and the media doesn’t play the game of providing democratic information. It means that only UMP, PS and Greens were invited on the media. And invited to talk about the National Front !”
We can say that there was a real democratic problem in the way the election took place: the way the European elections are run in France makes this election especially expensive. NPA was not able to pay for the production of the national official propaganda (120.000.000 of exemplary for the official declaration and 120.000.000 of ballots election addresses splitted into 5 different zones).
There were more than 120 lists (31 in the Parisian zone) and the media doesn’t play the game of providing democratic information. It means that only UMP, PS and Greens were invited on the media. And invited to talk about the National Front ! Very difficult to exist in this situation. To give an example, on TF1, the main TV channel, the info about the campaign gave info about the FdG: 0 minutes, 0 seconds !
But we should also have a look at the left organizations.
The strategy of FdG is quite impossible to understand now. During the presidential election, they were strongly against PS. This strategy, due to the candidate, JL Melanchon, had paid (11,1% of votes and a big influence on the national debate). But during the local election, just one month ago, the Communist Party (the largest party of FdG) refused the proposal of alliance of the NPA and decided to get common candidates with PS in a majority of cities (and sometimes in a larger coalition, including the center-right party). And then, for the European campaign, FdG campaigned against the UMP and PS. Electors don’t understand this political line (or, maybe, understand it all too well). This electoral soup, the bad electoral result, the question of strategy all suggest: the future of the FdG won’t be a peaceful stream.
For NPA who lost almost 90% of its members and all the political influence they got on national debate, the challenge is to survive without a strong social movement and without partners. The trade union strategy facing a center left government is not to encourage any social movement. The streets mobilization have been monopolized by the right and far-right movement for two years. So, what can an organisation based on movements do when there’s no movement by its side ?!
This seems very pessimistic (and it’s not good news, it’s true) but you have to understand that the situation “in the real world” is not so bad: there’s a lot of social initiative, experimentation etc … The debate on left space is reorganizing. In fact, the left in France is in significantly better health today than it was three years ago when 3 millions of people were demonstrating against pension reform. The main problem is that the public space (media, elections, trade union and left party orientations) sees a scene separate from the reality of the left. This is a new thing in our political history and presages big changes on the political landscape. But the question is: If this gap is too long and too big, will this mutation still be possible?
Note: This essay, written by Şöhret Baltaş, was published in Jiyan.org in Turkish on March 18th, 2014 with the title “Bir kız çocuğu… Şu dakika ölebilir.” As part of our efforts to inform the English speaking audience about male violence in Turkey, we attempted a free translation of this literary text.
Location: Bingöl, Turkey. Year: 2010. And a young girl: Ç.
She was 12 years old back then. Now she is 16. Still a kid. I’m saying this to those who still have a little bit of conscience left: she is still a kid. Each time we say Ç., please read it as “kid”. [“Kid” in Turkish language reads “çocuk”.]
In a village of 30 households, worthy of the Turkish phrase “a place even God has forgotten”, time goes very slow. But in the last week, suddenly it accelerates, starts shaking and falls apart. The villagers realize that 16 years old high school student Ç is pregnant since 8 months.
Recall that there are only 30 houses in the village. Look around you, how many people can be the perpetrator of this? They ask Ç, and she tells of the disaster that she hid to death in this tiny little part of the world:
Exactly 4 years ago, when Ç was 12 years old and shepherding, she gets raped in the middle of nowhere. The perpetrator is the youngster named K.T.
As all “penetrator” men do, he threatens the kid. Ç keeps her disaster in her heart, never says a single word. Every week, he finds Ç in solitude, and continues to rape her for three years, by all measures tens of times.
In August 2013, for one reason or another he lets Ç in peace. But this time, his brother, B.T., picks on Ç because “if my brother had some, I shall have a share too.” Then all the carrion crows of the village, E.B., N.G., K.G., T.M. …., gather around the girl to tear her from limb to limb.
The kid tries to resist with her small body and enormous fear but one of the carrion crows, T.M., forces her: “I have your video. I’ll put it in the Internet if you don’t sleep with me.” And the others follow lead. Spreading fear is their specialty… Ç gets scared of the threats, and, having nowhere to go, she cannot resist these thugs.
After Ç’s testimony, 7 suspected people get detained last week. So, what do you expect the first raper K.P, 19 years old, to say in court? “Yes, I am a piece of dog shit, I threatened the 12 years old girl.” is exactly not what he says. Especially seeing that the state embeds “woman” as an abstract object to “family” for her to fade away as an individual, and that its courts, following the same mentality, are extra “tolerant” in cases like this, why would he need to make such a confession?
He claims that Ç, a kid of 12, was “voluntary”, that she “consented”. Oh, he even gave money and cigarettes to this kid! He means to say “It’s a fair trade, both the buyer and the seller are willing, there is nothing to do here for a court.”
Furthermore, as a support to his claim, he puts as evidence that Ç had sex with N.G. from the neighboring village too. But N.G., 22 years old, defends that he “caressed her legs but didn’t have sex”. The rest of the 5 suspects reject the claims against them.
K.T. gets arrested by the Criminal Court of Erzincan, due to “qualified sexual abuse”. The other 6 suspects are released with juridical control because of “simple sexual abuse” by the Criminal Court of Karlıova. (Because, you see, it is a simple matter to caress the legs of the 12 years old kid.)
The verdict reads: “… while there are reasons for arrest, the discretion of the court was that it would suffice to apply the regulations of juridical control.”
The released 6 people (probably grinning like Cheshire cats) return to their villages.
Ç, who, according to her statement, carries K.T’s baby, gets allocated by the state to a house in a neighboring city.
But of course, nothing calms down… This village of 30 households is now attempting to put all the burden to this kid, who carries the disaster of that earthquake that turned everything upside down. The family rejects the girl. So the future of the baby to be born in a month is unknown.
Remember those who said “Let them bear the baby, the state would take care”? They now have better things to do, hiding their theft and corruption cases, and organizing rallies for the upcoming elections…
They wipe the blood of all the women who died with a piece of paper cloth and move on as if nothing happened.
But, enough of them.
At this moment, Ç’s lawyers Özlem Kaya and Selin Nakipoğlu have an emergency call: A young girl whose life fell apart is now being pushed to suicide by her family members! “Throw yourself from a high spot so that we all get rid of this!”, that’s what they are telling to this kid.
Now, I want to add my voice to the whispers and mournings of all those wounded women and those who want to keep them alive. Let us all shout and cry and even scream for this girl. What will we do in this land of dead, if the little body of Ç crashed to the floor today or tomorrow?
Please, speak out, write about it, talk about it, give her a hand… Please, do not let us let this kid die…