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International round up: Students in Turkey ‘won’t back down’

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Issue 2741
Police attack Bogazici University protests in Turkish capital Ankara
Police attack Bogazici University protests in Turkish capital Ankara (Pic: PA)

Student protests have swept across Turkey, beginning at Istanbul’s Bogazici university. They could develop into the biggest revolt by young people since the Gezi Park protests of 2013.

In early January president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the appointment of Melih Bulu, a failed ruling party candidate, as the new head of the university.

Students addressed an open letter to the president.

“This appointment makes anyone who has even the tiniest sense of justice revolt with indignation,” it said.

“Your attempts to pack our university with your own political militants is the symptom of the political crisis that you have fallen into. Do not mistake us for those who obey you unconditionally.

“You are not a sultan, and we are not your subjects.”

Hundreds of students from Bogazici have been arrested as they have joined demonstrations.

Battles escalated sharply over the past week as the government seized artwork with LGBT+ flags displayed at a student exhibition.

Erdogan said there was “no such thing” as LGBT+ in a “moral” country such as Turkey and called the protesters “terrorists”.

Ece Sevik, who is in her third year at Bogazici, said “there are Muslims, atheists, conservatives, secularists” taking part in the demonstrations.

“We absolutely will not back down,” she insisted. “We’ll continue until we have a rector chosen through an election and Melih Bulu is gone.”

Sign a petition in solidarity with students at

Farmers in India continue fight

Indian farmers revived their struggle against the hard right government of Narendra Modi last week with a day of road blockades.

Peasant organisations issued the call across India, except the capital New Delhi, and hundreds of thousands responded by blocking highways for hours.

Police had earlier erected huge concrete barriers around farmers’ camps on the outskirts of Delhi.

They also ordered the arrest of several senior trade union and farmers’ leaders who were central to organising a rally in the capital.

While farmers show no sign of backing down, the trade union reinforcements have yet to arrive.

Millions of Indian workers live in fear of losing their jobs, surviving poverty pay, and the privatisation of their industries.

Indian farmers reap success after state violence fails to stop march into New Delhi
Indian farmers reap success after state violence fails to stop march into New Delhi
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They are natural allies of the farmers and struck together last November.

So far the union leaders are content to utter warm words but otherwise sit tight.

Many are placing their hopes in state elections taking place now, and a general election that is years away.

But both the main coalitions, one led by the BJP and the other by Congress, are committed to “reforming” agriculture.

This will force the poorest farmers to give up their land to agribusiness.

Only a united fight by farmers and workers can put an end to their plans.

Resistance to government builds in Greece

Students, teachers and health workers are building resistance to the right wing government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Thousands of students and teachers protested in cities across Greece last Thursday against plans for a new 1,000-strong police force on university campuses.

They also demanded that schools reopen with proper Covid-19 safety measures.

It followed a previous round of protests in January that defied a ban on demonstrations.

Meanwhile health workers are gearing up for a national strike set to take place on Tuesday of next week.

They are demanding benefits paid to workers in jobs classed as dangerous or unsafe.

They also want more funding for the health service, recruitment, and for temporary contracts to be made permanent.

Tunisian protest defies lockdowns

Thousands of people marched in the capital of Tunisia on Saturday—defying a police clampdown on protests in the city.

The demonstration in Tunis was the largest in a wave of protests this year against poverty, unemployment and police brutality.

Significantly, it was also backed by the major UGTT trade union.

Young people in some of the poorest neighbourhoods and towns across Tunisia, including in Tunis, have clashed with cops in protests that began in January.

More than 1,000 protesters have been arrested since protests began.

Riot cops set up cordons and roadblocks around the city centre on Saturday in an attempt to stop people gathering.

But the demonstration went ahead anyway.

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