On Saturday (7 January), the Peoples' Democratic Congress (HDK) organized protests under the theme "You speak up too" to be continued in several provinces all over Turkey. In Istanbul, a group of protestors followed the HDK's call and gathered at Taksim Square.
The demonstrators protested against the Uludere massacre, a recent military operation in south-eastern Turkey that caused the death of 35 civilians, and called for peace and justice. Deputies, unionists, artists and writers reported about their visits to the scene of incident in Uludere.
The protest action was also attended by Istanbul Deputy Sebahat Tuncel of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Mersin Deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Independent Istanbul Deputy Levent Tüzel and Lami Özgen, President of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK).
Kürkçü emphasized that the bombing in Uludere (Şırnak) was not an accident. He continued, "During this process, the government gained experience in covering up but we gained experience in revealing the ones who wanted to conceal [the incident]. We will carry on with our struggle as long as the victims of the massacre have not been compensated; the responsible persons have not been punished and as long as the operations have not been stopped. We will say no in a way that becomes ever more powerful day by day".
The HDK is going to hold the "You speak up too" action every Saturday at 1.00 pm in various provinces for the duration of three months.
Ankara: "Speak up for peace"
Also in Ankara people came together for a joint protest upon the call of the HDK. They demanded to "remove the obstacles before freedom of expression and association and to release the detainees".
Again at 1.00 pm, a group of people gathered at the Sakarya Square and carried banners critical of anti-Kurdish operations.
Hüseyin Gever who read out the press release on behalf of the HDK said, "The Anti-Terror Law, the Turkish Criminal Law and the Special Authority Courts continue torpedoing peace and justice. Obstacles before freedom of expression and association should be removed. All the detainees, among them politicians, lawyers, academics, students, human rights advocators, journalists and writers, should be released".
Related to the Uludere incident, Gever announced, "35 Kurdish villagers lost their lives at the end of the year. The enemies of peace said 'The incident should not impede the fight against terror'. Bülent Encü who lost two of his brothers, one 13 years old and the other one in his twenties, said, 'This was a massacre, but whatever happened, my only wish is peace'.
During the press release, the protestors shouted slogans like "Speak up for peace" or "A free press cannot be silenced".
Peace Initiatives: "Responsible persons have to give account for a solution"
On the same day, the Peace Initiatives gathered in Istanbul at the Galatasaray Square close to Taksim in order to protest the Uludere operation. Hundreds of people called for the resignation of the responsible persons and for a clarification of the incident. Activists who visited the area that was hit by the aerial strike described their observations.
The protestors claimed that a crime against humanity was committed in Uludere. They called for the resignation and prosecution of the responsible politicians and military officials, mentioning in particular the Minister of the Interior, Naim Şahin, the Chief of General Staff and the Air Forces Commander. The demonstrators announced, "We do not want death, we want a solution. But for a solution the persons who are responsible for the Uludere massacre have to be taken to account". (ÇT/SK/YY)