Press TV has conducted an interview with Ralph Schoenman, political commentator, Berkeley, about the issue of anti-Erdogan protests in Turkey.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Demonstrations are piling up against Prime Minister Erdogan and major opposition party members are calling for early elections. How likely will early elections take place?
Schoenman: The regime has ruled out early elections even as Reuters reports tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators defying the government and Erdogan’s demands for an immediate end to protests.
The Deputy Chairman of the Justice and Department Party of Erdogan has stated they will hold presidential elections next year as planned. And there is open speculation that Erdogan is going to attempt to either stand for a fourth term, which would require changing the Constitution; or he will attempt to run as president.
So there is no indication that the regime intends to give up power in the face of protests. And as this is going on, tens of thousands of Turks have defied Erdogan’s call for an end to anti-government demonstrations.
What began as Reuters describes it, a campaign against government plans to build over a park, which is the center of protests historically in Turkey, has now spread into an uprising of authoritarianism of Erdogan and the measures imposed …and restrictions upon the lifestyle of the population….
Press TV: You said that this small protest against the development project has turned into something wide-scale against the authoritarian rule of Erdogan. So, how much can we assume that it will have the same consequences, which the Arab Spring had?
Schoenman: There are very powerful dimensions of generalized protesting, which indicates exactly that. Tens of thousands of fans from the three main football clubs who helped organize some of the protests marched in unison…
And in particular in the eastern working class district of Gazi, where there were heavy clashes with working people and police in the 1990s, 5,000 people were injured and members killed as the regime has attempted to crackdown on the population.
And these protesters have not only occurred throughout Turkey and the working class districts, but in Berlin where there is a large Turkish population, there are vast protests amongst the immigrant Turks in Berlin waving red Turkish flags and chanting ‘Occupy Gazi’.
And the Turkish Communist Party throughout the crowds there are huge masses of people turning out in their demands for the regime to step down.
So, there is no doubt that the protests have extended to a challenge to the regime’s authoritarianism and the austerity measures that it is imposing, but to revolt not only against that, but against the subordination of Turkish national interests to the United States and Saudi Arabia and Qatar in facilitating the mercenary uprising or rather the mercenary destabilization of the government of Syria and even staging on Turkish soil sarin gas attacks, which is going to be attributed to the Syrian government, which is in fact the work of the mercenaries given support by Erdogan in Turkey.
So it’s a generalized opposition to the subordination of imperialism, authoritarianism and the austerity measures that are affecting the population at large in drastic fashion.