Socialist Worker

Tug of war in Turkey over coup aftermath

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2515

Thousands rallied in the Turkish city of Izmir

Thousands rallied in the Turkish city of Izmir


A battle is taking place in Turkey to decide who will gain in the wake of an attempted military coup last month.

Mass popular mobilisation halted the coup. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has moved to purge the military. He is also seeking to entrench his power by removing other opponents.

These include dozens of newspapers, television station and radio stations, publishers and some individuals prominent in the workers’ movement.

Erdogan has bitterly criticised the US for its concerns about the treatment of the coup plotters while ignoring the hundreds of deaths that were caused by the rising itself.

Reports suggest that up to a third of generals, air chiefs and admirals were directly involved in the coup attempt. The remainder of the upper ranks did nothing to resist it. Such forces are the enemies of democracy and human rights.

But it’s not just Erdogan taking action. Thousands of people joined a “No to the Coup, Democracy Now” rally in the city of Izmir last Friday.

It was organised by the pro-Kurdish HDP (Peoples Democratic Party) and joined by a grouping of 45 unions and parties that organises May Day.

Opposition

It followed a demonstration the weekend before of around 100,000 called by the main opposition party, the right wing social democratic CHP (Republican Peoples Party).

The protest also involved some left groups and trade unions. Its main slogan was “Against the coup and against dictatorship”.

Workers have organised against sackings, winning the reinstatement of Mehmet Demir and 21 of his trade unionist colleagues who were removed from state broadcaster TRT.

Mehmet is a trade union activist and ex-president of his union. He had been sacked on the absurd allegation that he was a member of the Gulen sect blamed for the coup.

A wave of solidarity protests saved the jobs.

Rectors of Hakkari, Mersin and Tunceli Universities have resumed investigations and even begun dismissing signatories of the Academics for Peace group. It is critical of government policies and military actions against Kurdish citizens in south east Turkey.

But again solidarity can win. Ten of the petition’s signatories at the university in Van province have been reinstated after a campaign.

The coup was defeated by people taking matters into their own hands.

This opens up the possibility of both stifling the military and refusing to accept the shrunken version of democracy that Erdogan offers.

Last weekend marked the first anniversary of renewed war between Kurdish organisations and the Turkish state. Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation says over 355,000 people have been forced from their homes. Curfews and attacks continue.

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