Turkey: Education bill protesters stopped by tear gas from the police
The police intervened against KESK members who wanted to demonstrate in Ankara against the 4+4+4 Education Draft Law and the Draft Bill on Public Servants’ Trade Unions. The union confederation announced to continue their protest till the morning.
Members of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK) came to Ankara on Wednesday (28 March) to demand the withdrawal of the so-called 4+4+4 Education Draft Bill and the Draft Law on Public Servants’ Trade Unions.
The Ankara Governorship had denied permission for the organized protest actions one day earlier. Thereupon, the Ministry of the Interior and the General Police Directorate sent out a circular to the provinces to stop the busses that were going to set off to Ankara.
85 KESK members who came to Ankara from Adana on Tuesday evening were taken into police custody. Entry to the capital was denied to groups from Izmir, Aydın, Balıkesir, Manisa, Kocaeli, Bursa, Malatya, Batman, Urfa, Konya, Hatay, Zonguldak and Tokat.
The police tried to prevent KESK members from other provinces to enter the Kızılay district on Wednesday morning. About 2,000 people who came to the capital by bus from Istanbul and Diyarbakır were stuck at the central bus station for two hours because of the barricades put up by the police.
At around midday, the confederation members insisted on getting through to the protest march and the police intervened against them with tear gas and water cannons.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies Orhan Düzgün, Mehmet Şeker, Mevlüt Dudu and Selahattin Karaahmetoğlu came to the scene and talked to both the police and the protestors.
The police intervention was stopped upon the arrival of the MPs but the tension was still rising high. At the same time, KESK members in the Tandoğan district of Ankara were encountering a similar kind of police intervention. In the meantime, a group of confederation members gathered in Kızılay.The police did not allow the three groups of protestors to converge. Subsequently, the KESK members started a sit-down protest in Mithatpaşa, on the Gazi Mustafa Kemal Boulevard and in Tandoğan.
KESK President Lami Özgen talked to the police about the permission for the two other groups to join them in Kızılay. He announced that they wanted to issue a press release at the Güven Park and that the three groups were going to disperse afterwards.
The event was framed by many riot police force teams. The protest was joined by Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü and CHP deputies Hüseyin Aygün, Veli Ağbaba and Süleyman Çelebi. Çelebi called the Minister of the Interior, İdris Naim Şahin, and forwarded the demands of the union confederation to him. Şahin replied that the Güven Park was close to the Building of the Prime Ministry and that this was not an” area for legal action”.
Press statements were released by many groups that came from different provinces of Turkey and were not able to get through to the capital.In a statement released by KESK at 17.30 hrs, it was announced that the 3,000 people on the Gazi Mustafa Kemal Boulevard would persevere at the Güven Park till Thursday morning (29 March). Food parcels were distributed to the activists.