Football fans respond to ‘coup attempt’ claims: Yes, we’ve divided the country
The group added a photograph showing Cem Yakışkan facing a police water cannon truck (TOMA) to its statement.The iconic çArşı supporters’ group of Beşiktaş football club has responded to the “coup attempt” accusations, after it was announced that 35 of its members face life imprisonment for their involvement in last year’s Gezi protests.
The left-leaning group stressed in its message that it has always been socially-aware on many issues, from disabled rights to child labor and nuclear power, expressing dismay about allegations that it is an “armed organization,” as stated in the indictment.
“We have advocated a Turkey without nuclear power, and said donating blood would save lives. There was an earthquake in Van, we went to help. The Foundation for Children with Leukemia built new shelters, and we led the way. Our friends filled buses after the mining disaster in Soma to see if they could make themselves useful there. We said, ‘Take your dirty hands off our children’ for child workers. We still campaign for our disabled citizens. What we have done for animal shelters is also well-known,” çArşı said in a statement released on Sept. 9.
“So we have done all this in Uganda, but we are an armed organization in Turkey,” it added ironically. “Just leave us alone. Yes, we’ve split the country, you can now be satisfied.”
The indictment submitted by prosecutors accused leaders of the group, including Cem Yakışkan, Erol Özdil and Halil İbrahim Erol, of inciting protesters and seeking to overthrow the government by creating an “Arab Spring-like” perception of the situation in Turkey.
The group has responded that evidence was based on “distorted facts” to facilitate a witch hunt of protesters, also posting a photograph showing Yakışkan facing a police water cannon truck (TOMA) during a protest outside Beşiktaş’s old İnönü Stadium in 2009. “This is how we know Cem Yakışkan. To hell with your indictment,” the statement said.
“If çArşı is an organization and Cem Yakışkan is its leader, then we are all militants,” it added.
The accusations have also raised an uproar on social media, with the hashtags “çArşı is the people” and “çArşı is not alone” trending in Turkey.