16 July 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
The places that were raided in İstanbul’s various districts include several student dormitories. Those detained are suspected of organizing protests and being involved in violence in the course of the protests. The detainees were brought to the İstanbul Police Department, following medical examinations. The raids were continuing when Today’s Zaman went to print and the number of detainees may rise.
Within the operation, a house in Fatih district, where reportedly neo-nationalist Turkish Youth Union (TGB) members stay, was searched for two hours by the police, who seized two sacks of documents. Olgu Özdemir, chairman of the TGB İstanbul branch, and some other members of the TGB were among the detainees.
Meral Danış Bektaş, the Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) deputy leader who is responsible for law and human rights, issued a press statement condemning the morning raids and detentions, saying, “It is inexplicable that students and political party members were detained in a witch hunt by the government, while criminals who attack protesters with machetes and bats were released pending trial.”
In İzmir, a court decided to arrest 11 suspects on charges of being members of terrorist organizations, being involved in violence that damaged public buildings, vehicles and businesses and provoking people.
The arrests came after police earlier detained 15 suspects in raids at 16 locations in four western provinces — İzmir, Balıkesir, Manisa and Bursa. Two suspects were set free by prosecutors after those detained were referred to court. Another two suspects were released pending trial out of the 13 suspects who were referred to court. The rest were arrested.Forty-eight people have been arrested out of 57 detainees in four raids in İzmir since the protests started in late May.
On Monday night a large group gathered in Gündoğdu Square in İzmir in order to break their fasts — on the seventh day of Muslim holy month of Ramadan — on the ground, sharing the food they brought and protested the police brutality resulting in deaths and injuries.
Twelve people who were among the 50 protesters detained on the opening day of Gezi Park on July 8 but later released pending trial, face arrest once again, following the appeal by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday. Mücella Yapıcı, secretary-general of the İstanbul branch of the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects’ Chambers (TMMOB) and member of Taksim Solidarity, is among them.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) issued a memorandum stating that so far 133 people have been arrested and 3,636 people detained related to the Gezi Park protests.
With respect to the brutal beating of 19-year-old university student Ali İsmail Korkmaz by a group during the Gezi protests in Eskişehir resulting in his death on July 10, the suspect S.K. was released pending trial on Tuesday with a ban on leaving the country, after he was detained on Monday.
Thirty-three-year-old bus driver S.K. who was identified from security camera footage taken in the area of Korkmaz’s beating, reportedly has a criminal record of violating the firearms law by firing a gun. S.K. denied the charges but said he had a dispute with a group throwing stones and he was intoxicated that night. He replied to the reporters’ question, “Did you kill Ali İsmail Korkmaz?” with the answer, “No.”
In a statement issued by the Eskişehir Chief Prosecutor’s Office, it is said that two more people linked to the incident are being sought.
Korkmaz suffered a brain hemorrhage after being beaten with baseball bats by men in street clothes as he fled police during a demonstration in support of the Gezi Park protests in Eskişehir. He fought for his life for 38 days at a hospital before succumbing to his injuries. The attack on Korkmaz has stoked the tensions that erupted late in May over a government plan to demolish İstanbul’s Gezi Park in Taksim Square and replace it with a replica of an Ottoman-era barracks.
In Korkmaz’s hometown of Hatay the atmosphere was calm on Monday after five days of protests following his death. There was a peaceful sit-in with slogans being shouted regarding Korkmaz and Abdullah Cömert – the 22-year-old victim of police violence on June 3 in Hatay. The protest was carried out without any police intervention for the first time in five days.
Another protester, Mustafa Ali Tombul, who has been in a coma since being critically injured when a gas canister was fired at his head by the police on June 8 at the opening of Gezi Park, is showing signs of improvement, according to a statement made by his family outside Taksim İlkyardım Hospital. Mehmet Tombul, father of the 17-year-old, thanked everyone for their prayers. He added that they are determined to win their legal battle.