Violent Clash Against Peaceful Protesters at World Water Forum

Activists against privatization plans at the forum were met with police aggression.

The fifth World Water Forum opened today in Istanbul with a clash between peaceful protesters and the Turkish police.

Here's a dispatch from Mary Ann Manahan of Focus on the Global South, Philipp Terhorst of Transnational Institute, and Martin Pigeon, Corporate Europe Observatory:

At 9:30 this morning, a group of about 300 Turkish and international activists began a peaceful march towards the entrance of the 5th World Water Forum in Beyoglu to express their concerns about the political agenda of the event and prevent people getting inside. Turkish police forces, outnumbering by far protesters, quickly intervened and charged, using rubber bullets, separating Turkish activists from international protesters and violently dispersing the action.

17 Turkish activists from the "No to commercialisation of water platform" were arrested, mostly women who couldn't escape fast enough and one high-profile leader of anti-dam movements. Arrested activists are now in hospital, waiting for their transfer to Vatan police station where they might be prosecuted for illegal protest. The renowned Turkish hospitality seems to not apply to those critical of the World Water Forum.

Other activists then entered the WWF venue to protest against this inacceptable way of treating democratic protests and further challenge the World Water Council and Turkish government's water privatisation plans.

The week-long forum is expected to be contentious, with many groups from all over the world protesting the position of corporations at the decision-making table and plans for increased privatization of water. But the opening of the conference with a police crackdown has activist groups further incensed.

The People's Water Forum, "representatives of a broad international coalition of water rights activists," denounced the repression:

Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.
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