Protest actions against lengthy detention periods and mass custodies were organized in 40 provinces all over Turkey on Saturday (3 December).
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), the Turkey Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB), the Turkish Medical Association (TBB) and the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK) had called for the country-wide protest.
In Istanbul, a large number of people joined the demonstration that went from Takism Square along Istiklal Avenue to the Galatasaray Square. The decision for the mass protest was taken after 25 KESK members were sentenced to imprisonment of six years and three months each on charges of "membership of a terrorist organization". The group of convicts also includes the President of KESK, Lami Özgen.
CHP and BDP voiced the same requests
The demonstration was supported by many organizations such as the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), The Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), the Labour Party (EMEP), the Democratic Congress of the People (HDK), the Turkey Communist Party (TKP), the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP) or the Initiative 'Who is Next'. The Republican Peoples' Party (CHP) Provincial Administration and CHP Deputy Chair Erdoğan Toprak joined the protest as well.
Four main demands were voiced during the demonstration.
* Special Authority Courts should be abolished.
* The Anti-Terror Law (TMK) should be lifted.
* Mass custodies and arrests should stop.
* Detainees should be released.
"Turkey turned into an open prison"
In a brief sit-down protest on the way, the 2,000 demonstrators drew attention to arrested academic Büşra Ersanlı, publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, journalists Ahmet Şık, Nedim Şener, Mustafa Balbay, unionist Mustafa Avcı, detained KESK members and Kurdish detainees. Their names were read out one by one and the crowd shouted "Here!" for each one of them.
KESK President Özgen read out a press release on Galatasaray Square at the end of the demonstration.
Özgen claimed that Turkey had turned into an open prison. He held the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) responsible for long periods of detention, arbitrary custodies and emanating fear in society.
The joint press release touched upon the following main points:
* Everyone has become a target of the AKP including elected persons, dissident journalists like Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, university lecturers, students, representatives of political parties and of democratic mass organizations and municipalities who are not members of the AKP.
* Detention has turned into punishment. The AKP both arrests people and deprives them from their right to defence.
* The Union of Kurdish Communities (KCK) became the latest bogyman to legitimize the operations of the AKP. Everybody who wants a democratic and peaceful solution of the Kurdish question is in danger of being arrested as an alleged KCK member. The latest examples for this are Prof Büşra Ersanlı, publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, Deniz Zarakolu and former KESK Secretary General Mustafa Avcı.
* Special authority judges and prosecutors break the law on behalf of their special status. Special Authority Courts should be removed. Mass arrests have to stop. (IC)