Date: Tue, 5 Nov 96 12:34:21 CST
From: DHKC Informationbureau Amsterdam 7360;email@example.com>
Subject: Turkey: People’s Council founded in Gazi and Zubeyde-Hanim
On March 12, 1995, Gazi, a neighbourhood in Istanbul, made the headlines because of a massacre by the contra-guerrilla and the ensuing uprising of the people.
Now Gazi has the honour of being the first neighbourhood of taking the initiative to establish a People’s Council. Despite some initial problems which had to be solved, the People’s Councils will find ways of solving the problems of the people themselves and to organise the future of the neighbourhoods themselves. Only a unified and joint force can resist the enemy. This example is showed by the People’s Council in Gazi.
It’s a neighbourhood of which much will be heard in the
future. It’s the neighbourhood which was the first to found a
People’s Council which will determine the daily agenda. Gazi was
established as a
Gececondu, a slum area, in 1970 near the
Alibeykoy Dam It soon started to grow in the years of the massive
fleeing of the poor peasants of Anatolia who tried to survive in the
cities. From several provinces like Tokat, Dersim, and Erzurum Kurds,
Laz, Alevite and Sunni came to Gazi. With the increasing number of
people in Gazi, the problems of the workers grew as well. The state
abandoned the people in stead of helping the people with solving the
problems. With the help of people from the revolutionary
organisations, the Mafia -who sold the overpriced land several
times&38212;was driven away. From then on the trust between the
revolutionaries and the people in Gazi grew. From 1970 until 1980
Gazi, situated next to a dam, was without electricity, and it was
without water until 19987.
Until 1988 there was no public transport in this neighbourhood. It were the people in Gazi who lost their children under torture in the police stations. They were targeted by the gangs of civilian fascists and the police terror.
Their own experiences showed the people in Gazi they had to organise themselves. With their anger and this knowledge the people went onto the streets after the attack by the contra-guerrilla on March 12, 1995 and they threw up barricades. They demanded justice. After the massacre on March 12, 1995, the state is still longing for revenge. That’s why they try to terrorise the people in Gazi even more.
Using the dis-organisation of the people, the state started its daily operations. Detention, torture and imprisonment were daily events. Besides, the problems with the supply of water and electricity remained.
The people were aware they could not solve their worries and problems without organising. That’s how the discussion started about the People’s Councils. Appeals were drafted to unite the old, the young, the Kurds, Turks, Alevite and Sunni under one roof.
Every phrase, article and statute was discussed in detail and with broad participation of the population the People’s Council was founded for Gazi and the neighbouring area of Zuybede Hanim. The will and the initiative of the people were expressed all details. Generally speaking, the tasks of the People’s Council are to take care of the problems and worries of the people, be it from a political, social or economical nature. The People’s Council is the grass root organisation in several segments of daily life. The People’s Council of Gazi and Zubeyde Hanim was announced after three months of discussions and meetings.
The People’s Council, which will try to solve the problems and worries of the people in Gazi together and under one roof, which has the aim of unifying the people which went onto the streets after the massacre of May 12, fighting against oppression, was cheered by the people in Gazi. More than 1000 people were gathered in a overcrowded hall at the ceremony.
A lot of initiatives, institutions, intellectuals and artists expressed their support. On October 5, 1996, at noon, the festivities started Sultan festivity hall. It started with the circumcision of the children. A imam of the mosque and a Dede of the Alevites spoke the prayers.
The prayers of the two religious representatives (Sunni and Alevite) was an expression of unity and solidarity between the people in Gazi, gathered under the roof of the People’s Council.
After the circumcision rituals, conducted by health care volunteers of the SES, the festivities were started with a lot of enthusiasm.
Ali Ekber Emre gave the opening speech on behalf of People’s Council in Gazi and Zubeyde Hanim, explaining the reasons for founding such a council. He pointed to the fact that the state had not cared for Gazi for a considerable time, that it had in fact abandoned the people, leaving them alone with their infrastructural problems.
SINCE MARCH 12, 1995, ACCORDING TO A.E. EMRE, THE STATE SEES GAZI AS AN ENEMY.
The state started a symbolic trial against the policemen who were responsible for the gruesome acts thousands of kilometres away of Istanbul. The problems in Gazi remain unsolved, on the contrary, the terror of the state increased.
We learned our lessons from all this. We saw we could not achieve
anything on our own. We realised things could only be moved with joint
forces and solidarity. The answer against those who want to divide and
rule is solidarity, A.E. Emre continued.
Ali E. Emre explained they had started their work already before founding the People’s Council and had carried out several actions.
For example a medical examination, free of charge, was carried out in Gazi by specialist. They had examined the people three times, distributing medicines with a value of 300 million TL for free.
Then they addressed themselves to the electricity problem. After looking at the cause of the problem, a committee was formed among the merchants. This committee started its work already. Simultaneously a petition was started and 1.000 signatures have already been gathered.
All this, Emre emphasises, will stimulate us even more to continue and
give us more courage. A.E. Emre ended his speech by saying:
now on, we announce, the people in Gazi can no longer be divided with
political, religious and ethnic points of view. Out of unity and
solidarity, the people in Gazi has founded its People’s Council,
expressing the joint will of our neighbourhood.
It was furthermore announced that the People’s Council presently consists of 130 members, especially of merchants, housewives, pensioners, workers and youth.
Many musicians and groups participated at the opening ceremony, enchanting the people with their songs. The ceremony was also witnessed by representatives from several parties like the CHP (Republican People’s Party), the HADEP (People’s Democratic Party), the ODP (Freedom and Democracy Party) and by leading members from several organisations in the neighbourhood of Gaziosmanpasa and from many other associations and trade unions.
Messages of solidarity were send by several organisations and associations, as well as from the socialist papers Kurtulus, Atilim, Ozgur Gelecek, Isci Hareketi, Kervan and Partizan Sesi.
The cultural part of the program was received with enthusiasm. There were performances from the Children’s Choir of the Mesopotamia Cultural Centre, the folk dance group from the HADEP in Gaziosmanpasa, Grup Ozgurluk Turkusu and Grup Yorum. The message from Nurtepe and Alibeykoy was very strong and enthusiastically applauded. The festivities lasted till 6 p.m. People sang and danced. The festivities ended with expressing the wish that the enthusiasm about the People’s Council was going to be carried to all working class neighbourhoods.
On March 12, 1996, civilian fascists opened fire on some coffee-shops in Gazi to sow discord, conflicts and animosity among the several nationalities and religious creeds in Gazi. While the people waited for justice, the murderers were allowed to escape. Thereupon the people expressed their anger in protests which lasted for days. The people who hoped for justice were shot by the police, many were killed and hundreds of them were wounded, arrested and tortured.
After this attack a conflict did not rise between the Alevites and the Sunni, respectively the Turks and the Kurds. The common anger was directed against those who were responsible. But a certain distance and tension could be sensed since then.
In this situation the government acted with continuing repression, arrests, torture and terror against the people in Gazi.
Gazi needs unity, coherence and solidarity. The majority of the people are, economically seen, poor people. The infrastructure in this neighbourhood is deficient. The education facilities are insufficient as well, there are no medical facilities, no social insurance, no unemployment benefit.
We, the people in Gazi, came to the conclusion that the establishment of a People’s Council is inevitable to create a culture of solidarity so the problems in the neighbourhood can be solved.
1. Our aim is to restore solidarity among the people, without national or religious divisions. Our people will be educated so attacks like the one on March 12, 1995, will never occur again.
2. It’s our aim to establish a coalition against the police, the presence of armoured cars and the continuing arbitrariness and arrests, applying the principles of a state of law.
3. Another aim is to solve soaring problems, caused by an unequal distribution of income, like the deficient infrastructure, education, social security, health care, unemployment, housing, and food on a long term basis.
4. We will address the social and cultural problems of the people like drug abuse, gambling, alcoholism and other diseases which are caused by the influence of the system. The positive values of the people are taken as a basis.
5. We will take on the women’s question. Besides addressing the problems of the housewives, the working women, the mothers, the fact that women are seen as a sexual object, a women’s organisation will be founded, keeping in mind the social conditions.
6. In the field of production and consumption, organisations will be set up, developing a culture of solidarity. These organisations will be co-operations or unions which are not aimed at making a profit but who aim to lessen unemployment. Through this system pursuit of gain, conditioned by the system, will be confronted with a culture of solidarity.
7. All problems like recreation parks, market places, state hospitals etcetera, which are caused by the unjust distribution of income, will be addressed and serious steps will be taken to solve these problems.
8. According to the possibilities of the neighbourhood sport activities will be promoted and the people will be mobilised to participate in health enhancing sport. Sport will not be something to just watch, it will become something for children and women to participate in as well.
9. Families and associations will be active to improve the quality of education in the primary and secondary schools, to establish new schools, to make sure the number and quality of teachers will be increased and steps will be taken against high education fees.
10. According to our financial possibilities health care is now addressed by examining the people for free. This will be done on a permanent basis in the future.
11. Our neighbourhood will determine certain periods of time in which the people can celebrate circumcision celebrations and their weddings together. It will be tried to solve the problems with the least possible financial costs.
We reached the decision to found a People’s Council to solve these and many other problems we have not even mentioned. It’s our aim to solve our problems together and to create a collective culture of solidarity. One of the most fundamental principles of our People’s Council is the participation of the people in the leadership. Participation is based on voluntariness.
1. It will be attempted to address all the problems concerning the people in our neighbourhood and to develop possible solutions.
2. A culture of solidarity and unity among the people in our neighbourhood should be developed and the bad culture should be abolished.
3. All affairs who do not have to be addressed by the courts, such as family quarrels and quarrels among the people in Gazi should be solved among each other in a peaceful manner.
These are the criteria for friendship and solidarity. The People’s Council was founded in accordance with these criteria. The principles of this People’s Council were agreed upon by all participants.
1. Objective: The People’s Council is a civic popular institution which discusses all items concerning the people, it takes decisions and puts these decisions into practice. No difference will be made because of nationality, religion, creed or political views. The People’s Council is a democratic institution, open to all segments of the population.
2. Tasks: The People’s Council addresses economical, social, cultural, political and neighbourhood-specific problems of the people.
3. Organs of the People’s Council: The People’s Council consists of the General People’s Committee, the Council Committee, the spokesperson, the secretariat and committees.
a) The General People’s Committee is the supreme decision making and controlling body. All members participate on a voluntary basis.
b) The Council Committee is elected by the People’s Committee. It has a limited number of members. The Committee Council decides on matters which do not concern the General People’s Committee.
c) The Spokesperson is the person who makes the statements, decisions and bulletins of the Council known to the public.
d) The Secretariat complies to the directives of the People’s Committee and the Council Committee. It organises and co-ordinates the meetings. The secretariat makes the protocols and controls the realisation of the decisions by the People’s and Council Committees.
e) Committees are organs of the Council, consisting of a limited number of competent people. They directly address questions and problems which were discussed in the Council.
4. Elections, membership of the General People’s Committee:
a) All inhabitants of the neighbourhood who have reached the age of 18 and who are not guilty of crimes against the people have the right to choose and the right to stand for election.
b) All those who are mentioned under a) are natural members of the General People’s Committee.
c) The Council Committee will be elected by the General People’s Committee. The organs of the Council Committee will be invoked by the Council Committee.
a) The General People’s Committee meets once a year to elect a Council Committee and it will meet once every six months to control its activities. The General People’s Committee can be called together for extraordinary meetings by the Council Committee or by the people.
b) The Council Committee will be appointed by secret or open ballot, according to the will of the General People’s Committee. The Council Committee consists of at least 25 members. According to the will of the General People’s Committee, this number can be increased. The Council Committee will meet every first week of the month. If necessary, the Council will be called together by at least 1/5 of its members or by the secretariat. In these circumstances, the Council Committee must be called together by the secretariat at least 5 days before.
c) The spokesperson is elected by the General People’s Committee or by the Council Committee. The period of office will be determined by the Council Committee.
d) The secretariat will be invoked by the People’s or the Council Committee. It consists of at least 3 people, if necessary, the Council Committee can change the filling of the office.
6. Procedure of elections and decision making:
All organs of the Council will be elected by majority. Decisions are made by a majority of votes. In very important matters, like for example the dissolution of the Council or decisions which concern the public, a simple majority is not seen as sufficient in the beginning.
7. Exclusion from the organs:
Council members can be excluded from the organs because of immoral behaviour or lack of discipline which hinder the activities of the Council. In these cases the Council has the right to suspend a member from his task. The Council has to call together the concerned organ to decide about the membership of the suspended person. The Council members can exclude a member by a qualified majority of 3/4.
When a council member steps down, he has to give his reason to the council. The resignation can be rejected in case this member has been given a task because of his specific abilities or social position and the fulfilment of this task is not endangering his life when the resulting lack can not be filled in an adequate time. In all other cases, a resignation will be approved.
8. Final regulations:
Every member or all those who fulfil tasks, who are concerned with realising the decisions and who participate in the activities as a volunteer or as an elected person accepts the regulations of the People’s Council. The regulations were confirmed by the meeting of the General People’s Committee. The regulations and the constitution of the Council Committee were agreed upon and made public after several open meetings and a meeting of the General People’s Council, consisting of more than 1.500 people, on October 5, 1996.