No Surrender: Impoverished Minority Battles Turkish State

Collection with 23 media items created by Arianna Pagani

Turkey 26 May 2014 00:00

Istanbul, Turkey 

May 26, 2014

 

On 22 May 2014, 34-year-old Alevi-Turkish protester Ugur Kurt, cleaner and father of one, was killed by Turkish police. He was shot in the head by a stray bullet as the police dispersed a group of demonstrators expressing their grief over the Soma mining distaster that had taken the lives of 301 miners on 13 May 2014. The demonstrators were also protesting the shooting death of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, killed by a police-fired gas canister during protests in March of that year. Kurt, for his part, was killed outside an Alevi worship sight in the impoverished neighborhood of Okmaydani in Istanbul. 

Following these events, the Chepesi Party, an unrecognized political party comprised mostly of young people, clashed with the police. Members of the party shouted "Katil" (Criminals) at authorities. On the morning of 23 May, a police bus was hit by a Molotov cocktail, causing panic among policemen and leading one of them to fire in the air to disperse protesters. As the day continued, clashes in the neighborhood continued. By nightfall, protesters were taking aim at security cameras. More than 38 were arrested during the night of 26 May.

Turkey Istabnbul Okmaydani Istanbul Soma Mine Protests Demonstrations Police Police Bruta... Shooting Social Unrest Molotov Cock... Violence Alevi Cevemi Funeral Ugur Kurt Streets Public Squares Detention Killed Prote... Chepesi Party Religious Mi...

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
23 May 2014

For many on the political left in Turkey, conditions in the country are rapidly becoming a reason for social upheaval. The extreme poverty of some suburbs, the deaths of 300 miners in Soma, the marginalization of minorities, the war on the Syrian border, police oppression of protestors and restrictions on the press are exacerbating tensions in an already politically divided society.

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Title photo for the collection
Okmaydani
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
24 May 2014

22 May 2014. News of the shooting death of 30-year old Ugur Kurt was confirmed. He was killed by police in an Alevi mosque, or Cemevi, in the Okmaydani suburb of Istanbul.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
26 May 2014

Another man had already been killed by a teargas canister shot during previous protests. In reaction, young people from the Chepesi party rioted for days against the police, yelling slogans and calling them Katil€ (criminals, murderers).

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
24 May 2014

Okmaydani is an far-left leaning neighbourhood where Turkish and Kurdish parties coexist. Due to its proximity to Taksim Square, it has been a major force in the protests surrounding the Gezi Park demonstrations.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
26 May 2014

The Popular Republican Pary (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, or CHP) is the longest standing party in Turkey. It represents the strongest left-wing political force in the country.

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Okmaydani
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
25 May 2014

The number of Turkish security forces deployed in the neighborhood has steadily increased since the first wave of violence. During the clashes, police never entered the heart of the suburb, but are now slowly making deeper forays into the neighborhood.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
25 May 2014

After weeks of protests following the Soma mine disaster, police resorted to using real ammunition during the most violent clashes. Previously, only rubber bullets were used; the use of live ammunition has since then led to causalities.

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Okmaydani
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
25 May 2014

Neighborhood life only stops in the greatest moments of tension, when vendors close their shops in order to protect themselves and their belongings. Many watch the events from a distance.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
24 May 2014

Young boys and men take to the streets. On one side, they throw stones and molotovs. They are met with plastic bullets, teargas and armored police vehicles with water cannons.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
26 May 2014

Many young boys and men take to the streets. On one side, they throw stones and molotovs, on the other plastic bullets, teargas and Toma.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
26 May 2014

After the Gezi Park riots, many movements emerged to oppose the AKP and its leader, Prime Minister Recip Teyyip Erdogan, who has enforced various restrictions on freedom of speech and the press.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
22 May 2014

The grievances that led to protests are tied to religious and communal issues. A large percentage of the protestors come from the Alevi (Alawite) sect, which has been long aligned with secular leftist parties. The Alevis have traditionally been lower-class and socially disadvantaged and have not benefitted from the prosperity that has taken part in other parts of Istanbul and Turkey. The Alevis and the left-wing movements they support stand in staunch opposition to the conservative, Sunni-Islamist ideology endorsed by Prime Minister Erdogan.

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Okmaydani
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
24 May 2014

A small demonstration of the DHKP/C (Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front) waves red flags through the neighborhood and shouting slogans in order to attract people into the streets.

The only signs left of the tension in Okmeydani from the previous days are poles wrecked by the protestors and some statements written on the walls in memory of Berkin Elvan, Urgu Kurt and Ayhan Yilmaz

The response after the arrests was lively.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
22 May 2014

A funeral procession begins at Cem Evi. Starting at 18:00, the procession will continue toward the house where Ugur Kurt used to live. His body was eventually taken for burial to his hometown of Sivas.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
22 May 2014

After the demonstration in support of Ugur's family, the streets are empty. Around 19:30 a group of youngsters with their faces covered takes to one of Istanbul's main streets of Istanbul and provokes the police by throwing stones. The security forces, armed with Toma and teargas, respond immediately and disperse the crowd.

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Okmydani
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
24 May 2014

Home to several active parties, social tensions in the neighborhood also have political roots. These parties include the DHKP-C (Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front), considered an illegal terrorist organization by Erdogan's administration, the BDP (Party for Peace and Democracy) a legal party that supports the Kurdish cause, and the SODAP (Socialist Solidarity Platform).

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
24 May 2014

The streets fill with teargas and barricades.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
26 May 2014

The protestors include both young and old people, the former in the front whilst the latter remain in the back to play a supporting role in clashes with the armed forces.

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Okmaydani
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
22 May 2014

Canisters left by police are collected during the clashes.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
26 May 2014

In suburbs prone to such clashes, once often encounters strong local support.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
24 May 2014

Once the police leave, people armed with guns and rifles come out to shoot security cameras. They want to prove who is in control of that part of the neighborhood.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
26 May 2014

Since the beginning of the clashes, 9 people have died and more than 8163 have been injured. This does not include the number of arrests; it also makes the violence one of the most tragic events in recent Turkish history.

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Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
22 May 2014

Neither the opposition parties nor the media are able to counter the growing power of the conservative ideology of the AKP and the strength of the Turkish state.