Press Release at Boston Consulate of Turkey Protest

To The Members of the Press, International Human Rights Organizations, and the People of Boston,

We are students, academics, intellectuals, artists, workers, business people and citizens of Boston. We are here today to show our continued solidarity with our friends in Turkey who, as a reaction to their mass protests, have been subjected to immense police brutality by the Erdogan/AKP administration.

Since Monday, May 27th, what has started as a movement to peacefully protest the demolition of a public park and its replacement with a shopping mall, turned into a mass struggle of people of Turkey. It has become the struggle for human rights, freedom of expression and a participatory democratic culture. Throughout the past 10 days, hundreds of thousands of people have joined the movement in many cities across Turkey and around the world. Turkish police have continuously subjected the protestors to immense violence including excessive use of water cannons, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and beatings, causing three confirmed deaths and at least 2000 injured with many more affected by gas on the streets and at their homes. More specifically, the tear gas canisters have been targeted for shooting people. There have been thousands of people detained including people who express their opinions via Twitter. This ongoing disproportionate reaction and atrocious violence by the government against its own citizens cannot be justified in any way.

We are outraged by the magnitude of human rights violations and the increasing fear and oppression culture in Turkey. The Turkish constitution guarantees the right to peacefully demonstrate and to voice one’s opinion about matters of public policy. We are here to reaffirm that the freedom of thought and expression, and the differences in opinions are essential in any democratic society. We are here to remind the Turkish Government its obligations under international law to respect human rights, including but not limited to women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, minority rights, animal rights and the right to a sustainable environment. Rights that our brothers and sisters are defending with their lives in Turkey. Even now, as these massive protests are going on, the parliament, with a majority of AKP members, is using these events as a distraction for the people and is working on passing laws that will harm the environment even further. But, we are watching!

We also condemn the inconsistency and bias of the mainstream media. While we are following the news through social media and foreign news agencies, Turkey’s mainstream media’s downplay of the events is astonishing as well as extremely concerning. The people of Turkey have a right to a free press.

The government spokespeople’s and prime minister Erdogan’s attempts to marginalize the protestors and the movement as the act of a certain group or ideology is futile. This is a movement of the people of Turkey. We are calling on the international community to support the rights of the people to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in Turkey. In line with the demands of Gezi Park protestors in Turkey, we demand an immediate end to the oppression and police brutality on the streets and elsewhere, not only in Istanbul but also in other provinces around Turkey, primarily including Antakya, Dersim, Izmir and Ankara as of today. We demand that all those injured have prompt access to medical care. We demand that human rights safeguards during arrest and detention be upheld and we demand that our friends all across the country, who are already detained for having protested in peace, be released immediately. We demand those responsible for the brutality to be held accountable. We demand the establishment and maintenance of a participatory democracy, respectful to the people’s rights and freedoms. To our friends, brothers and sisters in Turkey: let our voice echo your struggle! In solidarity…