ANKARA - Over 50,000 demonstrators in the capital over the weekend have protested the AKP policies handling the effects of the global financial crisis in Turkey. Clashes erupted when police begin using tear gas against some demonstrators who refused to be searched.
On more than 500 buses, 20,000 demonstrators from across Turkey came to Ankara’s Sıhhiye Square and joined with those from Ankara taking the total of protesters to 50,000 with a police presence of 5,000 in the square.
Clashes erupted when police began using tear gas against some demonstrators who refused to be searched by police at entry points and who refused to leave the sticks of their banners behind before entering the square. Tension further grew when some police arbitrarily used tear gas and batons against members of the crowd and demonstrators responded by throwing stones. Insistent calls by organizers caused some demonstrators to return to the square but clashes continued in the back streets of Sıhhiye. Some police officers and demonstrators were hurt, windows of some shops in the area and barriers on the main road were broken.
Unions want equal treatment
"We will not pay for the global financial crisis," chanted the demonstrators. The protest had been organized by Turkey’s two biggest unions, the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, or KESK, and the Confederation of Revolutionary Worker's Unions, or DİSK and was supported by a large number of nongovernmental organizations and political parties. Increasing unemployment, the rising price of basic needs, such as natural gas and electricity, the government’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, on a loan to reduce the impacts of the crisis and the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s policies that protected the wealthy but ignored laborers were at the core of protests voiced by the crowd.
The banners read, "We do not want the AKP, enemy of workers," "I made the profit; the boss created the crisis; the boss seized the profit; the crisis fell on me," "Unemployment is the biggest racism," "Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should be judged for separatism," "Stop the price increases and unemployment," and "It is the employer who has to pay for the crisis."
"It is our first serious warning to the government. It is the same government that has prepared a crisis package anticipating tax privileges for money holders to save their companies as well as increased indirect tax to the working class and price of basic needs," KESK Chairman Sami Evren told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
"We want equal treatment. We want the government to protect our rights and not to levy tax from our minimum wages."
The minimum wage in Austria is 1,000 euros, 1,320 euros in France, 680 euros in Greece, 790 euros in Greek Cyprus and 255 euros in Turkey.