Many opposition groups start to protest the coming IMF and World Bank Annual Meeting, which will be held in Istanbul next week. Several groups, platforms, political parties and labor unions organize various activities from concerts to academic meetings as gatherings and ongoing protests are expected until the end of the meeting
More than 100 people gathered in front of the Hilton Hotel in central Istanbul on Wednesday to protest the coming IMF and World Bank summit, which will be held at Congress Valley in Taksim next week.
The group, which calls itself the Union Against the IMF and World Bank, blocked traffic on a busy road through Taksim until the end of their press statement. The union consists of more than 20 political groups.
The protest was just one of many events against the annual meeting of the organizations on Oct. 6 and 7. Several opposition groups have started protests and other activities against the IMF and World Bank before the organizations’ meetings have even started. Ongoing protests are expected until the end of meeting.
“We told the IMF and the World Bank to go away because we [are well acquainted with] them from our own [daily] lives that they try to poison,” said Reha Keskin, a member of the group who read from the press statement. “However, they know us, too. Because they know well that we want to take the wealth from their hands and that we aim for an equal and free world, they take all these security measures and put barriers in front of us,” Keskin said. Police blocked the group in the event that they would try to march along the road that passes through the area where the summit will be held.
“Go to hell IMF, this world is ours,” “The union of workers will defeat capital” were among the slogans the group chanted. After the press release ended, the group dispersed.
On Oct. 1, all the opponent groups including labor unions and chambers will meet in Taksim Tünel at noon and walk to Taksim square. On Oct. 2, ResistIstanbul, another group rallying against the IMF and the World Bank plans to hold a gathering in Galatasaray Square in the hopes of establishing a “Global resistance day against the ecological damage of capitalism.”
While the street protests will be ongoing until the end of the summit, academic organizations will also hold meetings against the IMF and World Bank policies, with two academic meetings on economy scheduled for Saturday. One conference, entitled the “Socialist Economy Congress against the IMF” is being organized at the Petrol İş Trade Union by the Nazım Hikmet Marxist Sciences Academy and Center for Social Research and Education, or TAREM. Academics and trade union activists from abroad also plan to participate in the meeting. The other academic gathering is being held at Bilgi University under the title, “IMF – WB: Critical Search Symposium.” The symposium is organized by Heinrich Böll Stiftung organization.
Music to protest
Meanwhile, ResistIstanbul also organized a two-day music festival as a feature of the events against the summit. “Resist Fest” started Tuesday and ended Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, three socialist parties, the Labor Party, or EMEP, the Turkish Communist Party, or TKP and the Freedom and Solidarity Party, or ÖDP, have organized joint activities to protest the organizations as well.
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Labor confederations reject participation at IMF meeting
Major trade union confederations and professional chambers have protested the IMF and World Bank summit, in which they were invited to participate as well, by rejecting their invitations.
Mustafa Kumlu, the chairman of Turkey's largest labor union confederation, Türk-İş, justified the refusal to attend the annual meeting by saying that the policies promoted and imposed by the IMF and the World Bank were against laborers and people with low income. Other major trade unions such as DİSK and KESK, together with professional chambers TMMOB and TTB, refused the IMF-World Bank invitation in a joint decision. However, the labor confederation Hak-İş said it would participate in the meeting.
The leaders of the organizations opposing the meetings sent a joint letter to IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and World Bank President Robert Zoellick, saying, "Traffic flow has been specially arranged for you, the hotels are fixing special menus for you, the city has been cleaned for you and security measures are being reviewed exclusively for you – All to make you feel at home. But the real owners of this country, we – laborers, the unemployed, the poor – did not invite you to our home, to our country. And because you are not our invited guests your presence in our country is not welcome, it is an object of outrage."
The unions rebuffed the IMF and World Bank for attempting to find solutions to "the crisis of capitalism" as if the organizations had no wrongdoing in it, accusing them of trying to present the liberal polices they have been advocating for ages as nothing but cheap talk about solving poverty.