On the 6th of January 2021, the world was witness to the insurrection at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. as supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the building and disrupted the certification of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. In Turkey, a similar event took place on the same day, albeit on a much smaller scale, when a group of protesters gathered outside the Governor’s Office in the city of Bursa to demonstrate against the imprisonment of six individuals known as the “6 Ocak isyancıları” or the “January 6 rebels”. The six individuals were arrested during a protest in the city of Izmir in January 2019 and charged with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “resisting police”.
One of the mothers of the January 6 rebels, who has not been identified in the media, recently faced trial for assaulting a police officer with a chemical spray during the protest in Bursa on January 6, 2021. According to reports, she was found guilty and sentenced to 40 months in prison. The incident has sparked outrage among human rights activists and supporters of the January 6 rebels.
The “6 Ocak isyancıları” were arrested during a protest in the city of Izmir on January 6, 2019, in support of students who had been on hunger strike for several months to protest against the Turkish government’s crackdown on Kurdish political parties and activists. The protest turned violent when police tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons. The six individuals were taken into custody and accused of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “resisting police”. The charges were based on the fact that the protesters had banners and flags of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and had allegedly been chanting slogans in support of the group.
The case of the January 6 rebels has been widely criticized by human rights organizations, who have accused the Turkish government of using terrorism-related charges to suppress dissent and silence opposition voices. The hunger strike by the students was itself a protest against the government’s repression of Kurdish political parties and activists, who have been targeted by the government for decades.
The arrest and imprisonment of the January 6 rebels has also been condemned by opposition politicians and activists, who have accused the government of hypocrisy and double standards. Many point to the fact that the government has been using similar tactics to those used against the January 6 rebels to suppress protests against its own policies, including the ongoing crackdown on opposition parties, journalists, and civil society organizations.
The mother of one of the January 6 rebels who was found guilty of assaulting a police officer with a chemical spray during the Bursa protest has reportedly apologized for her actions and pleaded with the judge to consider her family’s plight. She said that her son had been arrested without cause and was being held in prison along with the other January 6 rebels. She argued that her actions were the result of frustration and desperation, and that she had not intended to harm anyone.
The case of the mother of the January 6 rebel highlights the ways in which the Turkish government has been using charges of terrorism to suppress dissent and silence opposition voices. The fact that she was sentenced to 40 months in prison for using a chemical spray against a police officer during a protest, while her son and the other January 6 rebels have been held in prison for over two years on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “resisting police”, speaks volumes about the state of democracy and human rights in Turkey.
Furthermore, it demonstrates the impact that the “war on terror” has had on Turkish society and the ways in which it has been used as a tool to consolidate power and silence opposition voices. The Turkish government has been using the threat of terrorism to justify its crackdown on opposition parties, journalists, and civil society organizations, and to legitimize its authoritarian rule.
The case of the mother of the January 6 rebel should serve as a reminder to the Turkish government and to the international community of the need to respect human rights and democratic norms. It should also serve as a call to action for all those who believe in justice and freedom to stand up against oppression and authoritarianism, and to fight for the rights and freedoms of all individuals, regardless of their political views or affiliations.