Police intervene in crowds gathered for commemoration in Istanbul

Police intervene in crowds gathered for commemoration in Istanbul

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Police intervene in crowds gathered for commemoration in Istanbul

Turkish riot police clash with leftist protestors on Taksim square. AFP PHOTO

Turkish police deployed water cannon and tear gas today in an attempt to disperse groups meeting to commemorate three revolutionary youth leaders on the 41st anniversary of their execution in 1972.

The attack was the latest in a series of heavy police responses to any group attempting to protest in Taksim following clashes between authorities and May Day celebrants. Police had warned the group that Taksim was closed to protests, but the protesters insisted on reaching the square to commemorate the three, Deniz Gezmiş, Hüseyin İnan and Yusuf Aslan, resulting in the police attack.

The raid caused panic in Taksim Square, and some tourists were also affected by the pepper gas, according to daily Hürriyet.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Istanbul deputy Sebahat Tuncel was also present at the protest. Tuncel said that although they contacted Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu about the commemoration in the square, the governor refused to respond to their calls.

The military rulers who led a 1971 coup d’état sentenced Gezmiş, Aslan and İnan to death on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” as part of the case against the People’s Liberation Army of Turkey (THKO). 

The three were also commemorated at Ankara’s Karşıyaka Cemetery earlier today.

The ceremony was attended by thousands, including the family of the departed Halit Çelenk, who was the lawyer for the three, comrades from their struggle, labor unions, trade chambers and civil society organizations.

The revolutionary youth movement of the era, led by Gezmiş and other comrades, began in the form of uprisings within universities before spreading to become a society-wide opposition trend that encompassed anti-imperialism, as well as workers and peasants’ movements. During the period, various strikes, occupations and rallies for tobacco, cotton, tea and beet producers took place, which were abruptly halted by the 1971 military intervention.

The three were executed on May 6, 1972, early in the morning in the courtyard of the Ulucanlar Penitentiary – which has now become a museum.