Turkey – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Thu, 14 Dec 2017 21:23:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.12 “If we don’t cry out, who will?” /if-we-dont-cry-out-who-will/ Wed, 04 Jun 2014 10:28:31 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1076 Commeorating 25 years of the Tianammen Square massacre

As a European students’ organisation, we do not often look beyond Europe in these days while so many conflicts are happening in our continent. But today we do. We want to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the crackdown of one of the biggest students’ protests in history, the Tianammen Protests in China, with a million of students demanding for reforms towards freedom and opening of the communist regime. “People were disappointed in the government. They thought, If we don’t cry out, who will?” says Kenneth Lam, who was 20 then. When the Chinese government decided to send the army to stop the protests, hundreds (or thousands) of civilians were killed, and a strong secrecy was imposed. Even today, the Chinese government is obstructing those who want to commemorate or investigate what happened, as International Amnesty denounces.

In spite of the efforts of the Chinese government, the massacre hit the news all over the world. The iconic picture of the man stopping the column of tanks became a symbol of peaceful struggle for democracy. This was a  turning point in history in many levels, and is very relevant this year, when students’ have demonstrated all over our continent demanding more democracy. The Tianammen square can be these days in the Gezi Park in Istanbul, in the Maidan Square in Kyiv, at the streets of Tuzla; it can happen at any time, in any other European city. AEGEE-Europe calls for the European governments to refrain from any violence and to respect the democratic rights of the protestors, to take into consideration the demands of their citizens: in most cases, they just want a more democratic society, more opportunities to participate in the decision process and a better future.

We want to remember all the people who died fighting for their rights in China in 1989, and all those citizens (and specially the students) who faced hard repression from police, got gassed, beaten, severely injured and even killed in the last 12 months in Europe. We are proud of you and we support your demand for democracy anywhere you are.

You can read more in this complete article in Time Magazine.

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How AEGEE is helping at the Turkey mining tragedy and the Balkan floods. /turkey-mining-soma-balkan-floods-bosnia-serbia-croatia-aegee/ Tue, 20 May 2014 16:28:03 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1047 In the past days, two different tragedies have shaken our continent with too little impact on the news in many of the EU countries, which are focused into their national problems, the European Parliament elections, and in some superficial events such as the end of the football championships.

In Turkey, 300 people died trapped in a mine in Soma, in the worst accident in a mine in the region in the last decades. The mourning for the victims has been mixed with outrage for the feeling that this accident could have been prevented. (1)

Photo from http://www.firstpost.com/

In the Balkan peninsula, a great area – comprising most of Bosnia Herzegovina, and parts of Serbia and Croatia- was hit by the worst floods since the records started 120 years ago. The catastrophe has affected more than 100.000 people and caused more than 25 deaths.

In both cases, the AEGEE-Europe locals in the area reacted swiftly and activated the AEGEE Network, proving that a Europe without borders can be reality if you make it happen. In Turkey, our members broke the news and spread the information about what was really happening, explaining to their fellow Europeans the reasons behind the tragedy; this helped to raise fast awareness on the critical situation of labour rights in one of the candidate countries to access the EU. As a result, the Human Rights Working Group has started to look for ways how to help. In the Balkan case, the reaction of our local groups consists in raising awareness and launching a call for financial support among other local groups, and also getting in contact with their alumni for raising funds. At the same time, their members have joined the volunteer teams and are working in the field to alleviate the situation of those that were most affected by the floods.

We as AEGEE-Europe would like to express our support to the citizens affected by these two tragedies, and to share our pride for the exemplary reaction of our members in both cases. Their acts are an inspiration to other young Europeans!

(1) The privatisation of the mining industry in Turkey has led to a decrease in the prevention and safety investments, in a situation which has been denounced by trade unions in the past months in several occasions, but been ignored by the government. The reaction of the Turkish government after the tragedy has aggravated the violent protests, since they tried to ignore the real focus of the discontent of the people. The recent detention of several executives of the mining sector is a belated attempt to move in the right direction, and it is still perceived as insufficient.

(2) you can read more about the reaction of our local groups here, and find ways how to collaborate.

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Deportation of a French student in Turkey as a consequence of the #Gezi protests /deportation-elise-couvert-turkey-gezi/ Wed, 03 Jul 2013 14:53:38 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=658 Turkey is not in the news anymore. The focus of the media shifted to more pressing events in other parts of the world, like Brazil (first because of the massive protests there, later because of a football championship). Even the new massive protests in Egypt are not on the first page of the newspapers anymore; after one month of people in the street, tear gas and messages against their government, attention is focused now in where in the world is hidden Mr. Snowden.

However, in Turkey normality has not come back. There are still groups of citizens which non-violent protest on the streets, while most of the people recover from their injuries at home. Citizens try to forget the nightmares of running in front of the police or being detained, and some live with fear that their government may find that they were active on the protests in Facebook or twitter, and will go after them. Something has however changed among the Turkish youth, and as one of them voiced out, the difference is that now they “hope that things will change”.

There is one face of the conflict that has not received enough attention. Let me tell you the case of Elisa Couvert: a French student who, after being Erasmus in Istanbul last year, decided to stay and study a postgraduate course there. She also was volunteering for the Human Rights Association. When the protests started, she joined the crowd claiming for more freedom and more democracy in the country where she had decided to spend several years of her life. She ended up searching refuge from tear gas in the office of a political party, where police entered and detained several people. She was kept in detention for too long without any charge, and finally freed just to see, some days later, how her residence permit had been revoked. She was therefore deported last week back to France.

News report that during the whole process, she was denied the right to information, the right for an interpreter, she was kept way too long in detention without charges… Not to mention that the conditions of the detention center were quite poor and she was treated with little respect. This happened to a foreigner, to a citizen of the European Union, therefore we can assume that their own citizens have suffered the same fate, or even worse. Special concern has been raised among Human Rights NGOs for the treatment of the minorities which were so active in the Turkish protests.

It is sad that Turkey has decided to deport a Human Rights activist, but this can be seen as part of the whole strategy of blaming external agents for the protests. Instead of reflecting on the real causes of the discontent, the government of RT Erdogan tried to find a scapegoat abroad. The crisis management of the protests by the authorities, instead of calming down the situation, dragged more and more people to the streets with inflammatory messages and outrageous treatment in the mass media. People answered with humour and turned then to Social Media for getting the information, which caused Twitter to be accused of being “the worst menace for society”.

National TV showed penguin documentaries instead of protest news

The case of Elise Couvert has had almost no impact on European news. This lack of attention in media and the lack of reaction of the French Government (and the European institutions) to this violation of the rights of one of its citizens is very worrying. The Turkish government has failed to provide a justification to the deportation, there was no solid evidence against Elisa Couvert, but she has seen herself expelled from Turkey in another authoritarian decision of the Turkish government. AEGEE-Europe calls for a reaction on this matter, we want the European Union to stand with this girl who just wanted to pursue her studies in a more democratic Turkey.

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