Socialist Worker

LETTERS - We witnessed people power defeat the military in Turkey

Issue No. 2514

Protesters take control of a tank during the failed Turkish coup

Protesters take control of a tank during the failed Turkish coup (Pic: Eser Karadag/flickr)

I arrived in Istanbul with my partner and our nine-month old baby just as the military coup was beginning in Turkey.

The situation at Ataturk Airport was terrifying. Hundreds of heavily armed men had occupied the site and we heard tanks on the runway outside.

But then we heard loud chanting and marchers coming our way.

We could see mainly civilians marching through the airport chanting “Allah, bismillah” (In the name of God) and flying the Turkish flag.

They had been joined by a small number of the soldiers who they had convinced to break with the coup. It wasn’t president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s forces who had taken back that part of the airport, but ordinary people standing together in the face of brutality.

They marched on as the battle for the airport continued. Fighter jets swooped so low over us it made the walls shake.

We finally got out after 11 hours and saw peaceful streets. Tanks were strewn like ornaments, with people standing on them taking photographs.


The next day turned into a celebration. By late afternoon the squares were packed and the streets were filling up.

But it was more than a demonstration, it was a celebration of the people’s power.

One demonstrator told us, “The people of Turkey are proud of their democracy and they would rather die than allow a military takeover.”

He told us that two of his nephews had gone to Ataturk Airport to help to lift the siege.

We asked him to thank his nephews on behalf of our whole family.

“While we still have issues in Turkey, military action can never be the answer,” he added.

A brutal coup was defeated not by a president’s actions—but by a peoples’ self-activity.

Christopher Denson, Coventry

Protests are radicalising thousands

I’ve attended many of the protests and rallies that have exploded onto our streets in Manchester since the European Union (EU) referendum result.

They have all contained a common theme.

I was at the thousands-strong Jeremy Corbyn support rally last month and a much smaller, but more militant, protest against racism.

It was called by local people from the Moss Side area at three days’ notice. This was followed by a magnificent explosion of black militancy, which saw over 2,000 people march for Black Lives Matter.

On every one of these protests ordinary workers, who’d never been politically active before, spoke about the need to change the system.

Whether you voted Leave or Remain seems irrelevant now.

The issue for many working class people is, “We want change and we want it now”.

I believe we are witnessing a sea change in the political awareness of tens of thousands of workers. I don’t think I have heard the phrase “We need a revolution” said so often and with such passion before now.

Chris Ayton, Manchester

Parents need to have a say in child abuse cases

The teacher from Bradford is right to point out that council cuts put children at risk (Letters, 6 July).

But they’re wrong to suggest that we should not talk to parents before phoning social workers.

The relationship between cuts and child abuse is complex and needs to be seen in the context of austerity and growing inequality.

It’s not simply a case of councils watering down their child abuse policies.

Most councils don’t want to be seen to be raising the threshold of when they intervene in abuse cases.

If something went wrong, this would leave them open to criticism from schools’ watchdog Ofsted.

Capitalism chews people up without regard for the most vulnerable in society.

As a social worker, I think it’s important to make sure people are fully involved in decisions about their children.

Nick, South Yorkshire

No to MPs' blackmail

Birmingham Labour MP Jess Phillips says she could find it impossible to serve as a Labour MP if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected as the party leader.

This is a serious issue. If she stood as an independent in the next general election in her Yardley constituency, she might beat the Labour candidate.

And if that happens in 20 or 30 constituencies across Britain, we can say goodbye to any thought of a Labour government.

But I don’t think Corbyn, or the left generally, should give in to blackmail from MPs.

They can’t have a veto on who we vote for.

May Brown, Birmingham

Defend EU migrants

An open letter from immigration lawyers called for defending the rights of European Union (EU) migrants living in Britain.

Free movement is now at the heart of the political battle over Brexit’s outcome.

The labour movement can’t give any ground to the idea that we need stricter immigration.

Instead we can combine unity in action with information about steps EU workers can take to protect their residence rights.

The Immigration Law Practitioners Association are already producing helpful information.

Ed Mynott, Manchester

NHS sell-off being exposed

One closure to celebrate is NHS England’s plan to drop the Strategic Projects Team—the “outriders for privatisation”.

But it’s ridiculous they are still here given their list of failed and failing outsourcing schemes.

The list includes hospitals, older peoples’ services and pathology and cancer services.

The axing of this team is in large part due to campaigns by health activists.

It shows a government that’s anxious about the credibility of large scale privatisation plans.

We should rush to exploit this.

Anne Drinkell, Save Our Hospitals campaign West London

Establishment owns new PM

Theresa may is an unelected prime minister with friends in high places.

She must owe them big time.

@sallyann, on Twitter

Trident exists for the rich

How MPs voted on Trident accurately shows where on the political divide they really are.

Nuclear weapons are not a deterrent.

They exist solely to defend resources that are owned by a small minority of global capitalists.

Nick Vinehill, Address provided

Smith is just a bigoted guy

Right wing Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith says he’s “normal”. Apparently that’s because he’s got a “wife and children”.

Smith said this when fellow right winger Angela Eagle, who said she’s proud to be in a lesbian relationship, was still in the race.

But Smith seems to be mining a much deeper seam of bigotry. So he claimed Plaid Cymru’s leader Leanne Wood only got on TV as she’s a woman.

If Smith wants to be a party leader, I hear there’s a vacancy open at Ukip.

Gwyneth Evans, Pontypridd

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Article information

Tue 26 Jul 2016, 15:51 BST
Issue No. 2514
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