On the heels of a campaign by the Turkish government to blame it for the recent upheavals here, leading members of the Turkish Communist Party (TKP) are being rounded up and arrested.
In Istanbul, Turkey prosecutors yesterday called for the arrest of twelve activists in the ongoing struggle against construction of a shopping mall complex in Taksim Gezi Park, including leaders of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, Turkish Communist Party (TKP) central executive board member Erkan Bas and TKP Istanbul Provincial Chairman Kamil Tekerek.
Several other party members were taken into custody, as well as Taksim Solidarity Platform member Mücella Yapıcı, Istanbul Medical Chamber General Secretary Ali Çerkezoglu, members of the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, and members of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions. Bas and Tekerek were already in detention for participating in a demonstration in Taksim Gezi Park, but the latest charges represent a serious escalation of Turkish government repression.
The demonstrations against the Taksim Gezi Park development, which began on May 28, have spread throughout Turkey and escalated to calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamicist Justice and Development Party government on grounds of authoritarianism and brutality in suppressing the demonstrations.
Citing a police report on documents seized from searches of the homes of the accused, the prosecutor claimed that “calls for thousands of people to gather in Taksim Square prepared the ground for the marginal groups’ provocations… They caused the injuries of hundreds of police officers and citizens and the calls continued despite these injuries.”
The government red-baiting campaign accuses the Turkish Communist Party of having masterminded the demonstrations. Their were television commentators who claimed that “Communist protesters” had turned peaceful protests into “violent attacks that ruin social order.”
This red-baiting included an article in the Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram Weekly, by Turkish broadcaster Aylin Kocaman, caliming that young demonstrators were susceptible to the taksim Gezi protests “because they have not been educated against the threat of communism.”
The mainstream Turkish media has a history of subservience to the Erdogan government and of abetting a government disinformation campaign against the demonstrators .
In related developments approximately 50 demonstrators being detained by police continued their hunger strike, begun on July 10, to protest extension of their detention by prosecutors in Istanbul.