Fury against the IMF
by an eyewitness in Turkey
MARCHES throughout Turkey last Saturday by tens of thousands of workers marked the latest stage in a growing crisis. The marches were called by the major trade union federations plus a number of other professional associations.
Turkey provides another horrifying picture of the effects of "globalising" capitalism. Just five months ago the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Turkey bureau chief, Carlo Cottarelli, said that everything was on track for the restructuring of the Turkish economy.
Now, five months and three financial crises later, another "financial expert", Kemal Dervis, has presented another "stability programme" that looks just like the ones that went before. Dervis's stability programme means public spending will be cut in real terms by 9 percent.
This means a jobs slaughter, and a further sharp reduction in already skeleton public services. But holders of government bonds will not be obliged to declare their income from these bonds for tax. The robbery of the poor by the rich will continue. The Turkish lira continues to slide. Many prices are fixed in dollars so, for example, petrol and the bottled gas that most people use for cooking has gone up by 87 percent in just five weeks.
People do not have enough money to buy food for their family, let alone pay rent, electricity, and so on. Even before the latest devaluation the price of electricity had gone up 100 percent in one year. Small shopkeepers have poured onto the streets in cities and towns throughout Turkey in largely spontaneous protests.
Last Wednesday 70,000 shopkeepers marched in Ankara and clashed with police who attacked the protest with teargas and water cannon, and fired live bullets into the air.
Demonstrators responded with stones, blocks of concrete and even lorries to attack the police's armoured cars. While the dominant political atmosphere on the march was right wing, demonstrators stoned buildings and vehicles belonging to the Nationalist Movement Party, the fascist party that is a partner in the government.
THE SLAUGHTER in Turkey's prisons continues, with new deaths reported every day. The death of Sedat Gursel Akmaz on Monday brought the number of hunger strike deaths to 12.
Why I'm voting socialist
"I GOT elected as an independent councillor in Ashfield in May 1999 standing on a ticket of opposing a landfill site. I'll be backing the Socialist Alliance candidate at the general election. It is good to see socialists and environmentalists working together. Ordinary people feel that New Labour is no different from the Tories-over the environment, job losses and so much else. It is time ordinary people stood up and vocalised what they are fed up with."
- RACHEL MADDEN