May Day Mayhem in Turkey

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Unsurprisingly, this year's May 1 is proving to be a contested one in Turkey. As I'd speculated elsewhere, the government of Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan appeared to be viewing May 1 as a litmus test of sorts for this year's protest season. Given last year's May 1 conflict in Turkey, and the fact that Turkish police spent most of the summer fighting protesters with tear gas and water cannon, my sense was that the people in charge of the security services in Turkey were hoping for a relatively quiet day.

After all, the protest season is still only in spring training.

Nevertheless, the day hasn't been passing calmly. According to HalkTV, which did a good job of reporting on the protests last year, hundreds have been arrested so far. In the Istanbul district of Beşiktaş, the police apparently tried to arrest CHP member of parliament Şafak Pavey. There have also been protests and police rioting in Ankara.

Here are a few videos from today's action:

Şafak Pavey in Beşiktaş

Very stressed sounding reporter in Ankara

Rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon

This may be entirely coincidental, but Turkey has just been listed by Freedom House as a 'not free' country for journalism.

Freedom House stressed that journalists were harassed while covering the Gezi Park protests and dozens were fired or forced to resign due to their coverage of sensitive issues like negotiations between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

“The firings highlighted the close relationship between the government and many media owners, and the formal and informal pressure that this places on journalists,” the report added.
So while other news networks show penguins, it's worth acknowledging the folks who are still willing to stand up to the powers that be.     
More links, commentary and other stuff can be found at the Borderlands Lounge.

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