BREAKING: Turkish P.M.Erdogan Deploys Military Against Protesters (Updated)
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc),- Fears about violent and bloody clashes in Turkey today, 5 August have increased after Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdogan and the governor of Istanbul have deployed 6 brigades of military personnel and heavily armed riot police to the protect the prison and court in the city of Silivri.
Large amounts of riot police, armed with firearms and so-called rubber-coated ammunition, which is lethal at close range, have been deployed at key positions. The deployment came tonight and during the early morning hours, as Turkey´s opposition has vowed to defy Prime Minister Erdogan´s crackdown, arrests and threats of violence.
Already on Friday, Turkey´s police began raiding the homes of opposition members and offices of opposition parties and organizations in an attempt to arrest the cadres behind the mass protests against the sentencing in the controversial Ergenkon trial today.
Five years ago, 300 high ranking retired and active duty military officers were arrested on espionage charges. Another 300 officers, scholars, journalists, leaders of opposition parties, including members of parliament were arrested on minor espionage charges.
The trial, which has taken place in specially authorized courts with secret evidence, secret charges, secret witnesses and under exclusion of the public has been internationally criticized. The oppression and international analysts describe it as the first phase in a de facto coup d´etat and the implementation of the United States Greater Middle East Project in Turkey.
Yesterday, prominent members of Turkey´s opposition, including members of Turkey´s largest opposition Party, the Republican People´s Party, and the Workers´Party, declared that they would defy the crackdown, arrests and roadblocks which had been established to prevent protesters from travelling to Silivri.
Tonight the Justice and Development Party, AKP, government of Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdogan prepared for a violent standoff with protesters by deploying 6 brigades of military personnel to protect the prison ground. Besides the 6 brigades military personnel, 2000 riot police forces were assigned to surround the prison to secure, that the sentencing, and with it, to secure that the US-backed coup d´etat of political-Islam can take place without being interrupted by the protesters. The sentencing today is by analysts worldwide considered as the beginning of the implementation of the US Greater Middle East Project, which aims at dividing Turkey into smaller, US client states.
The 2000 police forces in Silivri have been provided three truckloads full of ammunition, including rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and smoke bombs. 13 water cannons have also been deployed to Silivri.
The Turkish government’s preparations for a violent standoff with the protesters are not limited to Silivri and the immediate surroundings. All highways leading to the region around Silivri have been closed to prevent busses with protesters from reaching the city.
Departures of the busses have been prevented by police forces. Turkey´s traffic police is stopping busses and has begun fining bus drivers on overtly fabricated grounds. Drivers of cars have been warned that they will be fined in every city en route to Silivri.
Turkey´s Minister of the Interior has reportedly contacted bus companies and warned the companies not to fulfil contracts for transporting people to Silivri. Others, in several cities throughout Turkey, have been prevented from even leaving their city en route to Silivri, causing them to begin organizing local protests.
The Turkish Trade Unions which are organized in the Trade Union Unity Platform have called upon their members and the people of Turkey to stand up for the right to the freedom of assembly. The Chairman of thePetrol-Is Trade Union (oil worker’s union), Mustafa Oztaskin stated, that he stands in solidarity with the accused in the Ergenkon trial in Silivri and demanded, that the prohibition against the protests must be withdrawn.
The prominent Turkish journalist, Yilmaz Ozdil stated, that he will be happy to report for the Aydinlik Newspaper if there is a need. The statement was made in support of the newspaper, which has been targeted in the crackdown which began Friday morning.
Another prominent Turkish Journalist, Can Atakli said, „there is something that dictators tend to forget: you can’t stand against the people. For the first time in Turkey, it has been forbidden for the relatives of the accused to attend a trial. To my understanding, the AKP is primarily trying to spread the Silivri incident to other places and tries to unsettle it to everywhere throughout Istanbul“.
With 6 military brigades, riot police and hundreds of thousands of protesters preparing for a face-off, 5 August could easily turn into a day that will go down in Turkey´s history as “Bloody Monday”
UPDATE: 12.04 GMT
Protesters are streaming towards Silivri, where the Turkish government has deployed 6 military battalions to “protect the prison / court of the people.
Roadblocks, summary fines against car drivers who are fined on made-up traffic charges in every city does not deter the protesters, who are marching across the fields where and when traffic is blocked. The opposition is determined not to let the verdicts and US-backed coup be finalized unchallenged.
Protesters are gathering at the E-5 Highway. Gendarmey has set up full scale barricades around the Silivri Courthouse.
The airspace over Silivri has been closed. According to a bulletin from the Worker´s Party – Turkey, the airspace over Silivri has been closed. The closing of the airspace could be related to the use of helicopters against protesters and could be related to plans to evacuate the detainees – and / or the court by helicopters.
Gendarmery attacked 2000 protesters who were marching through the fields towards Silivri with tear gas and pepper spray.
Some of the “defendants” in the Ergenkon Trial, who were not arrested, are not allowed to enter the court hall during the sentencing today. The court has stated the names of these defendants were not on “the list”. However, Turkish law dictates, that a verdict must be given in the presence of a defendant.
Body Searches. Officials at the court have subjected the lawyers of the defendants to body searches and ransaked the lawyers belongings. Lawyers had to take off their shoes. The lawyers are protesting the treatment and refuse to enter the court hall under these circumstances.
Only specially accredited journalists are granted access. A Reuters journalist has been rejected. Journalists are not allowed to carry computers or any devices which can record audio into the court.
In the Kadikoy district of Istanbul, busses were prevented from leaving for Silivri. Subsequently, protesters began marching toward Silivri.
UPDATE 13.45 GMT
Teargas fired at protesters from helicopters: The Turkish police has used helicopters for firing teargas into crowds of protesters. By noon, so a report, the protesters had stood against clouds of the toxic fumes for five hours.
The accused have been brought to the court. The accused have been brought to the court. While being brought into the court, the accused shouted “Shoulder by shoulder against Fascism” and “We are the Soldiers of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk”.
A relative of one of the accused..Can Perencik, whose brother and father are accused in the Ergenkon trial, was expelled from the court. Also expelled from the court was the 19-year old daughter of Tuncay Özkan, Nazlican, who was kept in custody of an armed soldier.
Message from the accused Chairman of the Worker´s Party – Turkey, Dogu Perencik. . The Chairman of the Worker´s Party – Turkey, who is one of the leading members of opposition parties who were arrested five years ago, has sent a message to the protesters from the court. Perencik wrote:
“The people´s movement is growing stronger. Everyone shall prepare himself! We will live a hot autumn”
Judges have begun declaring the sentences… The judges have begun declaring the sentences. The public prosecutor has demanded life time sentences for several of the accused.
Ergenkon, the secretive organization nobody ever heard about – other than those fabricating charges ? One of the main accusations against the about 600 who have been charged in the Ergenkon trial is participation in founding, and/or membership in the “Ergenkon” organization. However, non of the police investigators, non of the witnesses against the accused, nor the prosecutor have ever been able to present any tangible evidence about the existence of this purported organization.
Moreover, neither during the investigation nor during the trial, has the prosecution ever documented any program of the purported organization, nor has there been documented any collective action on behalf of the purported organization, ever.
The accused have defended themselves that it was the public prosecutor who had invented the organization when he wrote the indictment.
UPDATE ON SENTENCING.
Court slams several life-sentences on accused in Ergenkon trial: The court has handed down several life sentences in the Ergenkon trial, including the former Chief of the Army, Ilker Basburg and other high-ranking military officers. Reportedly, 21 of the accused have so far been acquitted, reports Irina Galutchko from Russia Today (RT). nsnbc will follow up on the sentencing.
Clashes, Police fires Rubber Coated Steel Ammunition against Protesters. Reports about clashes between protesters and the police in Silivri continue. According to numerous reports from witnesses at the scene, the police is using disproportionate force against the protesters, including dangerously large quantities of teargas and pepperspray. Several independent witnesses reported, that the police has in some instances opened fire against protesters, using so-called “rubber bullets. The correct designation would however be “rubber coated steel bullets”. The rubber coated ammunition can cause very serious injury and it can be lethal is it is fired at close range, or if the victim is hit at a soft or sensitive body part. So far, there have not been any independently verifiable reports about casualties.
Protesters continue streaming toward Silivri. The first protesters arrived in Silivri during the early morning hours. Due to the road blocks and other attempts by Turkey´s police, the number of protesters continues growing, as many have been delayed. According to a member of one of Turkey´s opposition parties in Izmir who called nsnbc international, but who prefers to remain anonymous in fear of repression, there will likely be organized nationwide protests, which will manifest in several of Turkey´s major cities.
SENTENCING... The Foreign Secretariate of the Worker´s Party – Turkey informed nsnbc international, that all of the accused, without exclusion, have received prison sentences. Earlier reports from RT, about the release of 21 of the accused were inaccurate or incomplete in that RT failed to report that those who had been released were released because of time already served during the five years detention since the mass arrests. The number of persons released is, according to the Worker´s Party 16. nsnbc international will attempt to publish a complete list as soon as possible.
BLUE BARETS… at least some of the troops which have been deployed today are wearing blue barets. nsnbc international is investigating whether reports according to which some of the Turkish troops are associated to Turkish units designated for foreign, peace keeping service under the auspices of the UN. As far as possible, we will publish a report with the full details about which units have been deployed today.
Injuries… A yet unknown number of protesters have been injured, some have been treated for their injuries at a hospital. The number, seriousness of the injuries and further details are at this time still sketchy. Details will be published tomorrow, in a follow-up report.
A Follow Up Article will be published tomorrow, on 6 August, as we receive more, and corroborated details.