Antalya, Turkey – President Obama arrived today in the Mediterranean resort town of Antalya, Turkey, for the G20 Summit, a meeting of the leaders of the 20 most significant economies in the world. After being greeted by children in traditional Turkish dress as the sun rose after his overnight flight, Obama headed to his first round of meetings. For security, he is staying aboard a US military warship docked at seaside, rather than one of the many posh resorts in this vacation town.
Protesters have been arriving in Antalya for the past few days by the busload, despite the fact that the local government has banned protests during the summit, according to local news sources. Several Turkish media such as Today’s Zaman has been excluded from the G20 summit, although they applied for media accreditation. Turkish officials state that 11 protesters were arrested yesterday for G20 protests. 4 were arrested at the Antalya airport while holding signs, and 7 more arrested in Istanbul.
Turkish officials arrested over 250 people in Antalya and the surrounding area, according to local sources. The Turkish government announced that these were suspected ISIS members, but many local people have raised questions about how many of them were actually ISIS.
The agenda at the G20 Summit reflects the tensions of the region. Especially following the Paris attacks, emphasis has been given to discussing the situation in Syria, counter-terrorism measures that may include more militarism in the beleaguered Middle East and the migrant crisis. All of the propaganda will no doubt focus on They will also discuss global economic development, including a $60 trillion infrastructure project that should worry environmentalists or anyone concerned with the climate. These funds will be channeled through multinational development banks. They will also discuss climate finance, and it remains to be seen whether this will actually be a meaningful discussion, or just a token gesture in comparison to their infrastructure development plans, which so far have not addressed sustainable, earth-friendly development at all.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia has rented out the Mardan Palace, an entire luxury hotel for $18 million for the Saudi delegation. The Chinese president will be accompanied by an entourage of government ministers, functionaries, and assistants. Brand new Canadian President Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party will be in attendance. They will join world leaders from all G20 countries.
Meanwhile the “B20” Summit, a convergence of global corporate and business interests, with meet and schmooze with leaders. “L20 meetings” for labor groups, “W20” for women’s groups, “Y20” for youth-focused groups, “C20” for civil groups, and “T20” for think tanks has also occurred, though unlike the business interests, they do not have large joint sessions with the heads of state. As usual, pro-business groups have the coziest treatment at the G20. The world’s power-brokers are here in force.
A busy press room contains space for over 3,000 reporters. Over 10,000 additional security personnel are in the city. A local sports center has been fashioned into a jail with room for about 500 people, in case protesters need to be arrested.
The Türkiye Gençlik Birliği (Turkish Youth Party) will protest, starting today at 1:00 PM at Antalya Municipal Building in Kaleiçi, Antalya. A march will follow. The groups will be protesting on G20 issues, US imperialistic policies, capitalism and neoliberalism. The group is expected to demonstrate with colorful signs and banners, and say that they have a “surprise” planned for US President Obama.
The Öğrenci Kolektifleri (local student collectives) will protest today at 3:00 PM, at the "Occupy" park, Aydın Kanza Parkı, Antalya, Turkey. The work of these collectives covers a range of issues such as the migrant crisis, media censorship, capitalism, neoliberalism, gender equality, and imperialism. The collectives have recently marched with banners and torches. They are expected to engage in street theater tomorrow, and participate in marches.
With a detention center prepared for up to 500 protesters, we will see what occurs as the G20 protests get underway.
Where is the public, visible opposition? Resistance is just under the veil here in Turkey, when you scratch the surface.
“The G20 is more capitalism,” said one young man running an independent bookstore in Istanbul. He said that he opposed the organization because of its neoliberalist principles. Outside his bookstore was posted the phrase, “Work less, read more.”
A young man wearing a black leather jacket, hand-painted with anarchism symbols, told me that he “hated” the G20. “But, I have hope,” he said. The young man reported that he had been a protester at Occupy Gezi. After a clash with police, he had been accused of throwing Molotov cocktail explosives, and had spent six months in jail.