“We demand justice for the victims of Erdogan’s fascist rule. The Turkish government must immediately release those arrested in protests and lift the ban on mass meetings and protest actions.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Almost three weeks after massive protests erupted in Turkey, Filipino activists from members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), workers from KMU and green environmentalists with the Kalikasan-PNE showed their solidarity with the workers and people of Turkey as they held a picket-protest in front of the Turkish Embassy in Makati City this Thursday June 20.
“Filipino workers and people stand in solidarity with the workers and people of Turkey in their struggle against the fascist, exploitative and oppressive AKP Government of Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. The long list of economic and political attacks during Erdo?an’s 10-year rule must end now,” said Rogelio “Ka Roger” Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
The Turkish Police forces reportedly used brute force to attack the recent Labor Day rally in Turkey’s Taksim Square. A few weeks before, its state forces also reportedly violently dispersed a sit-down protest against the Turkish government’s plan to bulldoze a park called Gezi Park in Istanbul.
These series of events have sparked massive protests in different cities of Turkey as its workers and citizens expressed their years-long hatred for the Erdo?an regime. The Turkish government retaliated with mass arrests and violent dispersals of protests, using rubber bullets and water cannons. In the latest news, five people have been killed and close to 7,000 people have been injured in the past few weeks of protests.
“We demand justice for the victims of Erdo?an’s fascist rule. The Turkish government must immediately release those arrested in protests and lift the ban on mass meetings and protest actions. We also demand the junking of trumped-up charges filed against trade unionists and activists. They must be allowed to exercise their right to organize and to protest,” Soluta of Filipino KMU said.
In major cities of Turkey, millions of demonstrator have reportedly been confronting the AKP government of Erdo?an. As this developed, activists around the globe are holding solidarity protest actions against imposition of neoliberal policies in Turkey. Like the Filipino activists who protested in front of Turkey’s embassy in Manila, they are also condemning Turkey’s participation in the US and European Union’s wars of aggression against countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
“The Turkish workers’ and people’s militant struggle and the widespread international support are statements against the likes of the Erdo?an regime and other authoritarian and pro-imperialist governments. It showed that the people of the world are standing up and are ever determined to fight for national independence against imperialist domination” Soluta said.
Seeing Noynoy in Erdo?an
“The uprising of the Turkish people all began with a peaceful occupation of the Taksim Gezi Park, the last urban forest in Istanbul, by the Taksim Gezi Park Protection and Beautification Association, which was subsequently met with bulldozers and a violent dispersal,” said Clemente Bautista, Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Bautista said the Turkish peoples’ desire to protect their last urban forest, and the violence with which their government has been responding to it, have similarities in the Philippines. “The last remaining green areas throughout Philippine urban centers are also being threatened by mall expansions and other forms of development aggression. And like our brothers and sisters from Turkey, the peaceful opposition of environmental activists in the Philippines to these threats to the environment are being met with an iron hand,” noted Bautista.
Bautista also pointed to similarities between Philippine president Aquino and Turkish leader Erdogan. These two are “very similar in their intolerance toward environmental advocates. In the Philippines, 66 environmental advocates have been killed since 2001 mainly through the government’s long-standing counter-insurgency programs that have been largely directed against its critics,” Bautista said.
“The environmental movement in the Philippines and Turkey are kindred spirits,” Bautista said. He explained that the peoples in these two nations face similar threats from their “fast-degrading environments due to corporate greed, as demonstrated by big business in collusion with government.”
In the Philippines, Bautista said the following tragedies are happening on the last remaining trees and mangroves:
• In Baguio City, 182 Pine and Japanese Alder trees were threatened to be earth-balled and removed to give way to the parking expansion of the SM Baguio Mall. The company defied a Writ of Kalikasan granted by the Supreme Court prohibiting them to proceed with the earth-balling. Indignation rallies were simultaneously held last April 13 in various mall branches of SM, and the action led by Kalikasan in SM’s North EDSA branch in Quezon City were violently dispersed by security guards. Lawyers of the Baguio-based Project Save 182 Trees have also experienced physical and psychological harassment.
• In Quezon City, a total of 93 trees were either already cut or condemned by the JAC Liner bus company to make way for the expansion of their parking lot and facilities. Residents adjacent to the area weren’t consulted by the company, and are now experiencing the immediate effects of losing the regulating and buffering services once provided by the trees.
• The 175-hectare Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area is a coastal lagoon and one of the last mangrove forest areas in the National Capital Region, which serves as an internationally-recognized bird sanctuary. It is currently threatened by a 635-hectare land reclamation project.
With other Filipino activists who rallied in support of their Turkish counterparts, Bautista called on all green groups in the Philippines and in Turkey “to intensify the struggle against state and corporate-sponsored ecological destruction, and to build cooperation in addressing the structural roots of the environmental and social crises we face.”