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The fifth World Water Forum opened with brutality and repression this morning, as Turkish police clamped down on a demonstration outside the event.

Members of CUPE’s delegation joined public sector workers, water activists and Turkish allies to protest the corporate agenda of the World Water Forum. As this morning’s demonstration makes clear, the forum is designed to shut down debate instead of hearing from workers and civil society. Police and security presence throughout the forum is oppressive.

After a noisy and colourful event to mark the forum opening, the protest spilled onto the street. Police fired on the protesters with rubber bullets, used tear gas and chased protesters.

The police targeted Turkish activists, in particular young people, for arrest.

All of the international activists are safe, but 17 activists from Turkey were arrested. According to Turkish law, they can be held for up to 48 hours without charge.

Two members of the International Rivers Network were also arrested inside the opening ceremonies, as they delivered a message to the heart of the conference. They were deported for unfurling a banner at the ceremony.

The international activists strongly denounced the repression, and are maintaining solidarity with the jailed activist to ensure they aren’t mistreated, and are released immediately.

CUPE Manitoba President Kevin Rebeck, CUPE 1978 Victoria water campaigner Kim Manton, and staff Rhonda Spence and Karin Jordan are representing CUPE in the 50-person Public Services International delegation.