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Inside Story: Occupy Gezi Movement in Turkey; Development Is Not Always Good

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Occupy Gezi
Not always development makes citizen happy. This is what happening in Turkey. The government’s plan of demolishing the Gezi park and constructing a shopping mall in the centre of the city has not attracted the backing of its own citizen. For any changes, whether it is development changes or changes in law in the country, government must consult with its citizen in a true democratic way, that’s the message Occupy Gezi Movement is giving to the world.

Occupy Gezi Movement is one of its kind in a way that it is one level above other such movement we have seen recently. It is not about democracy but about asking for more true democratic fundamental rights, normalization of power sharing and making people understand that they elect the government and not the government elect them. 
“Democracy is not just about elections,” said the Turkish President Abdullah Gül. Respecting his words, this is our significant addition to the rising voice in Turkey for the people who are fighting for their rights in one of the most matured Muslim democracies of the world.

One Aspect of the Story

On 28th May 2013, a group of around fifty people independent of any organization launched a protest in the Gezi park in Istanbul against the demolition of the same to prevent the seventy years of greenery in the city centre from converting into yet another shopping mall, which are already present in bulk in the city of Istanbul. On 30th May, trees were scheduled to be cut down in the morning, but before that could happen, people went to the park previous night with their family, blankets and tents to sleep under the trees whose shade they might not have enjoyed from the next day. 

When the bulldozer came to demolish the park, people gathered and stood up against them making no way for the bulldozers. Police came to intervene which disturbed the peaceful nature of the protests by throwing tear gas shells, water canon and paper spray. 
Meanwhile to control the protest, all the ways leading up to Taksim square where the Gezi Park is located were blocked. The metro was shut down and ferries were cancelled. 3G services were turned off by the carriers after being forced by the government as confirmed by an Turkcell employee, resulting into nearby restaurants turning their WiFi signals from secured to public.
Occupy Gezi
The protesters have claimed that the policies of the ruling government is like selling the country to corporations at the cost of nature and environment for the construction of malls, freeways, dams and nuclear plants. Citizen also blamed government for snatching their rights and passing many laws regarding sale of alcohol, abortion, public kissing and LGBT.
Mainstream media’s role is almost equal to the zero, there is hardly any mentions of protests in the newspaper and TV giving a signal of a possible government sponsored instructions to the media to not to cover these events.  Not just domestic media, but even international medias are not showing much coverage unlike in the case of Arab spring. This could be because of the fact that the ruling party is pro-western and pro-American which advocates a liberal market economy including Turkish membership in the European Union.
Many photos and videos are now circulating on the web and social media showing how brutally police is trying to control the protests. United States State Department, United Kingdom Foreign Office and The European Commission condemned the excessive and disproportionate use of force and and asked for upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression.

The Other Side of the Story

It is true that the peaceful protests were started by the environmentalists against the demolition of the Gezi park, but later the protest took complete turn with “political agenda” specially when government was blamed for its foreign policy on Syria and other policies like banning the sale of alcohol at night. Ruling Turkish government has shown support to the armed rebels of Syria and believe in ousting of the Syrian government. 
TWR’s department in Russia and Ukraine received inputs straight from Turkey that internet was never blocked neither did Facebook and Twitter as claimed in various blog posts. The shopping mall which would replace Gezi park is not exactly a shopping mall but rebuilding of museum style Ottoman-era Taksim Military Barracks which was demolished in 1940. Although This Taksim Military Barracks will accommodate a small shopping mall inside, some blog and social media posts could only limit their visibility to “shopping mall”. 
There is a misinformation that protests have become popular across Turkey. Major protests have only been in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, rest nearly fourteen to fifteen cities have experienced minor protests. Turkey has around eighty to ninety cities.
The protests though started genuinely are claimed to be motivated by opposition political parties who are against policies of ruling Justice and Development Party (or AKP in Turkish) that includes sentencing to jail for life for blasphemy, reforming education curriculum strengthening Islamic elements in public primary and high schools and not apologizing for bombing a civil plane carrying 34 Kurdish civilians thinking they were militants of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Time to time the ruling government has been blamed for being hardcore Islamist and authoritarian. 
Since 2002, Justice and Development Party has remained the single largest party claiming the majority in every election. This raises a question if people had problem with the Party’s Islamist status or its authoritarian nature, then why would they chose the same party again and again in every election? 
We at TWR believe that right to the fundamental freedom of expression, assembly and association should be maintained and any restriction made to the basic fundamental rights should be condemned. If people in large number are gathering, there must be something which they want to tell the government, and government should consider and talk. If government wants to give a new shopping mall or a museum to its citizen, it must consult the citizen whether they want it at the cost of the park or not. If a protest is controlled and the issue is resolved at the earliest, there would be very less probability of opposition or outside powers to interfere and turn the movement as hostile.

Updates

1. The unique ID which every policemen have on their helmet has been painted to hide it. Police force is becoming harsh to control the ongoing Occupy Gezi protest across many cities in Turkey.

police painted unique ID
Click to Enlarge. Source: Unknown

2. Police controlling the protests brutally with pepper spray and water canon is causing more anger and rise of support for the protesters in Turkey and around the world.

police spraying pepper on protesters
Click to Enlarge, Source: Unknown

3. A 22 year old young men shot dead in Antakya during the protest. The City Governor’s Office informed that they couldn’t yet confirm if the bullet was shot by a cop.

4. Two days union strike and universities postponing exams will result into more gathering and strengthening of protests.

5. Occupy Gezi protesters trying crowdfunding to buy a full page advertisement on either the New York Times or the Washington Post. The message says “We want the world to hear from Turks temselves about what’s happening in Turkey. We want the world to support us as we push for true democracy in our country.

Occupy gezi full page ad
6. Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu unhappy that US Secretary of State John Kerry crticised crackdown on Occupy Gezi protesters. Kerry expressed his concerns on receiving reports of excessive force by the police. He also said Washington is “deeply concerned” by the large number of people who have been injured.

In a tough response, Davutoglu held a telephone conversation with Kerry and accused the U.S. of treating Turkey “as a second-class democracy.” He also complained that Washington did not react to similar protests in other countries.

7. English translation of the demands of the Taksim Solidarity group who met with the deputy PM this morning: Click here

8. Israeli political expert Avigdor Eskin believes a military coup could be possible in Turkey, “At present, a military coup is also possible, given that it once had happened in Turkey before. If the police display violence and the victims to clashes reach significant scales, a new military coup is quite possible,” He told Arminfo

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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India

Government Changing Syllabus to Include Sikh History in India

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and the President of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Moon Jae-in jointly inaugurating the Samsung manufacturing plant, World’s Largest Mobile Factory, in Noida, Uttar Pradesh on July 09, 2018. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath (in saffron), the Minister of State for Culture (I/C) and Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr. Mahesh Sharma and other dignitaries are also seen.

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, most populous state in India, has announced inclusion of Sikh history in the state syllabus. Students of all schools under UP State Board will see the new chapters. The announcement came when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (BJP) was observing Sahibzada Diwas.

Why do we Observe Sahibzada Diwas?

Sahibzada Diwas marks the martyrdom of four ‘sahibzada’ (or sons) of Guru Gobind Singh (10th Sikh Guru) and his mother Mata Gujri. In the year 1705, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb had ordered torturing of youngest sons of Guru Gobind Singh aged 5 and 8. He later executed the little sons by burying them alive into a wall. The reason for this act was that they refused to convert to Islam. Soon after this event Guru Gobind Singh’s mother, Mata Gujri also martyred her life under Aurangzeb’s captivity. The cause of her death is still unclear. Guru Gobind Singh’s other two sons martyred their life in the Battle of Chamkaur Sahib. Thus the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh had lost his whole family by 27th December. This is an important event in the Sikh history in India and UP Government is finally keen on observing Sahibzada Diwas every year.

Why UP Government is Changing the Syllabus?

Soon after the independence of India in 1947, the school education came under tight grip of far left and communists. Most of the Indian history in the recent past has been written by Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib. They have close ties with left wing ideology and Irfan Habib has delcared himself as Marxist. They wrote history text books by either phasing out sections of Indian history or diluting certain events. The motivation to soft alter the history has been to propagate left-wing/communist ideology. Historian Koenraad Elst once highlighted that Romila Thapar is comfortable neither in Sanskrit nor in Farsi language. The knowledge of these two languages is a must to understand India’s history.

In the recent years, various public opinions have gained momentum to rewrite Indian text books to include more content on Indian rulers and native ideas. Currently, Indian text books mainly teaches about foreign rulers of India such as Mughals and British.

With this announcement of inclusion of Sikh history in history text books, the government is bringing historical facts in mainstream.

27th December as Real Children’s Day

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also reached out to the Education Minister to declare Sahibzada Diwas as Children’s day. He further added that “The history of Sikh gurus will be a part of the syllabus. Apart from this, we should observe December 27 every year as Sahibzada Diwas in all schools. Today is the day to pay gratitude to the sons of the Guru and mother who martyred their lives for the motherland, country and religion.” Yogi Adityanath also said that “No society can move ahead if it forgets history. The Sikh society is known for its hard work. The Sikh gurus sacrificed their lives to defend the Hindu religion. The country will always remember this.”

Yogi Adityanath added that learning about the sacrifices by Sikh Gurus would inspire future generations to dedicate themselves into nation-building. He emphasized that we should make future generations realize that India and Indian culture was safe because of sacrifices of Sikhs.

What Should We Do On Sahibzada Diwas?

Sahibzada Diwas should be an important day for every Indian regardless of their region, culture or religion. On this day, we are in the Holiday mood as it falls right between Christmas and New Year’s eve. However, we should remember that a Guru and his entire family sacrificed their life for the well being of India and the idea of India.

On this day we can fast, do sewa (service), visit a nearby Gurudwara and sleep on the floor at night.

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China

Ridiculous Tariffs on Wines – China Australia Trade War Explicated

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China Australia Trade War
Scott Morrison (right) has not yet been able to secure a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (left).(ABC News)

Earlier in November 2020, Communist China slapped Ridiculously high tariffs up to 212.1% on Australian wines. These tariffs were in the response of ongoing trade war between Communist Party of China and Australia. China is the biggest importer of Australian wines making up a whopping 39% of Australia’s total wine export. Australia has already raised concerns at a WTO meeting about China taking measures against its barley, wine, meat, dairy, live seafood, logs, timber, coal and cotton, according to a reuters report.

How did China – Australia trade war begin?

China and Australia shared one of the best times in their relationship after Kevin Rudd from the centre-left Labour party came to the power in Dec 2007. During his leadership Australia decided to pursue appease China policy which included steps such as:

  1. Chastising Taiwan for its renewed push for independence and reiterating support for a one-China policy in favor of People’s Republic of China. (Source: The Age)
  2. Signing a A$50 billion deal with PetroChina in 2009 (largest contract ever signed between the two countries) that ensures China a steady supply of LPG fuel until 2029.
  3. Unilaterally announcing departure from Quadrilateral Security Dialogue to appease China.

Nosediving of China – Australia Relationship

The course of this partnership changed when Julia Gillard from the centre-left Labour Party took over the leadership and initiated closer partnership with United States. This included revival of interest in Joining Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and stationing of US troops near Darwin, Australia.

In 2013, Tony Abbott from centre-right Liberal Party took over the leadership. During his term Australia saw some confusion in its China Policy. His Defence Minister Senator David Johnston told in a statement that Australia is seeking to balance their relationship between China and the United States. It was during his term when Australia and China established a Free Trade Agreement.

However, the relationship between Australia and China took a downturn in 2015 when Malcolm Bligh Turnbull from the centre-right Liberal Party came into power. This is the point in history which has led to current trade war situation between Australia and China.

  1. Australia became the strongest opponent of China’s territorial claim in South China Sea.
  2. Banned foreign donations to Australian political parties and activist groups in a move to target Chinese interference in Australian democracy.
  3. Revived Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with United States (Donald Trump), India (Narendra Modi) and Japan (Shinzo Abe). This was the time when Quadrilateral Security Dialogue saw hope of becoming something bigger as all four countries had centre-right governments who had a clear China Policy.

2019 Onwards: China – Australia Trade War

In 2019, relationship between the two countries further took a dip with Scott Morison from centre-right Liberal party becoming the Prime Minister. During his leadership:

  1. Australia signed a letter condemning China’s mistreatment of Uyghurs and other minorities.
  2. Suggested investigating the cause of Covid 19 in April 2020, which resulted into an angry response from China threatening to reduce Tourism and Trade.
  3. Opposed the Hong Kong National Security Law in June 2020.
  4. Reiterated its support for ethnic minorities in China and freedom in Hong Kong in October 2020
  5. Demanded a formal apology from China for posting a fake image of an Australian soldier holding a bloodied knife against the throat of an Afghan child

In conclusion, these continuous attack on China made China so angry that they deliberately leaked a list of 14 points suggesting why China is angry at Australia

China’s attempt at “buying” left wing politicians around the world

Recent trend is suggesting China’s attempt at “buying” influential left-wing politician around the world. In November, 2017 Australia’s Labour Party’s MP Sam Dastyari went against his own party on South China Sea. He later quit his party after he was found of taking financial favours from China.

In 2008, India’s Centre-left party – Indian National Congress signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Communist Party of China. Its contents are still hidden from the Government of India and the people of India.

Recent US Report has shown concern on President Elect Joe Biden not clearing doubts on his China policy.

How Can we Help Australia Post Ridiculous Tariffs on Australian Wines?

In 2020 China has directly or indirectly impacted many of our lives. Some of us have lost our jobs, some of us are taking a reduced salary. In fact, some of us are sitting at home instead of travelling; while some of us have lost our loved ones only because of communist party was incapable of controlling a virus outbreak.

As the entire world is struggling with this virus, Chinese economy continues to be on path of surpassing the US. Therefore, we should pledge to minimize buying Chinese products. It might be impossible to completely boycott Chinese products, but we can at least minimize it.

Install Cultivate Chrome Extension (non sponsored/affiliate link – We are not getting paid to post this). This plugin works on both Google Chrome and the new Microsoft Edge. It helps you understand the origin and seller location of a product on Amazon. It is a great tool to minimize your dependence on Chinese products. If you are lucky, this extension will also suggest some Made in USA alternatives

Buy Australian Wines – Australia desperately needs a new market for its wine and other products. This New Year and Christmas season, we should pledge to celebrate with at least one Australian wine!

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India

Congress’s Electoral Enervation

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Rahul_Gandhi_at_The_Doon_School

BlakeShramster / CC BY-SA

Lately, the Grand Old Party of India has been suffering from severe political lacerations. It is bleeding profusely but it still refuses to recognize and feel the pain of its grisly wounds. The Congress party is obstinately practicing political podsnappery and this is further eviscerating its relevance. Slowly and steadily, its ideological roots are being chipped away. We are witnessing a kind of dilemmatic democratic party, which is strangulating in the ever-shifting tectonic plates of Indian politics. The fresh act of defection by Jyotiraditya Scindia foregrounds the ideologically weak aura which now surrounds the Congress.

In every period of its history, a particular type of ideological encrustation surrounded the Congress and illuminated its charm among the Indian voters. This ideology rooted it firmly in a vast network of ideologies. This ideology, for the most part, has been secular and liberal and acted as a strong bulwark against a xenophobically framed anti-secular strategy. But now, this prodigious party has shrunk to a miniscule group. This cataclysmic contraction has happened primarily due to the elitist imagery to which it was tethered. Congress’s political rivals portrayed it as an inherently elitist group by harping on its corruption scandals like the Satyam Scam, Coal Scam, Chopper Scam, Adarsh Scam and Tatra Truck Scam. All this overemphasis on the financial impurity of the Congress led to the citizens believing that the Congress party is an aristocratic admixture of kleptocracy and bogus secularism.

The political dynasticism of the Congress further solidified this elitist imagery and soon, Congress became the ‘suit, boot ki Sarkar’. The usage of the aforementioned epithet successfully established the presence of the Congress party as a technocratic liberal party, accustomed to high-handed bureaucratic methods of administration. The attribute of a ‘pro-people party’ was snatched away from the Congress and it was represented as a technocratic group, largely unconnected from the material conditions of the citizens.

Apart from the political and financial palm-greasing, the Congress has also been disemboweled due to its confounding ideological quagmire. The Grand Old Party is stuck in a regal fort, where it is continuously wavering between a secular strategy and a thinly-veiled contrivance of religious pandering. It has already flip-flopped on its ideological plank by pitching Rahul Gandhi as a religious leader which actually backfired because people at once understood that he had suddenly become a synthetically Hinduized leader.

And now, it is lending its support to the Anti-CAA protests and has all of a sudden, arrived like a knight in shining armor, chaotically shouting secular slogans. Opportunistic acts like these cause severe trust deficit and the party incurs widespread odium for its electoral opportunism. So, due to the Congress’s ideological shilly-shally, its attempt to provide guidance to the Anti-CAA protests is seen as a crude act of politically hijacking the protests. To say succinctly, the Congress has been utterly passive in reacting to some major political events and has not even tried to extend its sinews to drag itself out from the quicksand of financial dissoluteness and ideological vacillation.

Due to all the above mentioned iniquitous inadequacies, Congress is withering and losing its elephantine presence on the electoral platform. This is the most appropriate time for the Congress to recognize its Achilles heel and try to overcome this deficiency. The defection of Jyotiraditya Scindia highlights the fact that now, an ideological string no longer ties any Congress member and the party needs to alter its highly feudal organizational structure which is identical to a form of royal structure, based on monarchical munificence. The Congress party can utilize the following remedial measures to perform the medical operation which is indispensable for it to regain its health.

Constitutional Struggles

It should try assiduously to interconnect itself with the common masses and change its political behavioral pattern by staging what can be called ‘constitutional struggles’. These constitutional struggles will essentially be democratic demonstrations, aiming to recover the lost sheen of the constitution. These protests should be able to blend constitutional patriotism with a Gandhian non-violent idea of struggle. In this way, the Congress party would be successful in politically fructifying its vast receptacles of historical significance and will harmonize its history as a torchbearer of freedom with the present calamitous conditions. One important reason behind the need to make Mahatma Gandhi the vanguard of Congress’s recuperation struggle is the vast space which he occupies in the collective imagination of the Indian citizens. By spotlighting Gandhi, the Congress party can easily initiate a resistance movement whose objective will be to find the Gandhian truths in this age of political prevarications and fabrications.

Change Organizational Configurations

The Congress party needs to change its organizational configurations. The sybaritic structure of dynasticism should be superseded by a bottom-up approach which is decentralized. The present organizational architecture is extremely centralistic and all the members of the Congress party are seen as the supine members of a sycophantic entourage, revolving around the singular nucleus of nobility, which has invariably been the Gandhi family. The senior members of the Congress party such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel and Manmohan Singh are depicted as the servile stooges of the Gandhi family who possess an unbreakable fidelity to the dynastic autocracy of the Congress party. The congress leadership is also currently rudderless. During the elections, it played the role of a dabbler. After Indira Gandhi, all the Gandhis (Except Sanjay Gandhi) were reluctant politicians. They were compelled because the Nehru – Gandhi name was associated with the party. All these aspects of party functioning need to be radically changed so that non-Gandhi members are not seen as mere appendages of the supposed undisputed overlord which is the Gandhi family. (3) A coherently unified ideological political programme needs to be built. The lumbering party is in a state of delirium and is unable to properly specify its political stance. It should solidly settle this predicament by choosing to continue with its former political posture as a truly secular and democratic party, committed to constitutional values. If this operation is not undertaken, the Congress will be finally consigned to the political graveyard, where it will die with its shambolic ideological structure.

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