Friday, May 31, 2013

Police Brutality Breaks Out at Late Bloom Occupy Istanbul, Turkey

Friday, May 31, 2013

Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

What started out today as a peaceful sit-in protest to save trees in Gezi Park in central Istanbul's Taksim Square ended in serious injuries, chaos and destruction. Police in riot gear and gas masks led a dawn raid against demonstrators, firing tear gas bombs and watercannons at the crowds. A Facebook message to us reports that it is about more than just trees - the people are tired of police state bully tactics.

Government renovation was going to uproot the trees "to make way for a replica Ottoman army barracks and a shopping mall" -- protesters say this is the last green space in Istanbul center. Peaceful demonstrations began on Monday and at some point, a court order delayed the uprooting. Police raids dispersed the gathering literally firing tear gas canisters at the people. Pictures of the ammunition flying out can be seen here.

Twelve people are seriously injured, six have brain injuries including an Egyptian tourist now having surgery for brain hemorrhaging. A Reuters photographer was also injured. Hundreds are suffering with respiratory complications from the gas.

Police chases compelled people to climb a wall to escape tear gas clouds, and injuries also occurred there when it collapsed.

The dawn raid was the latest in a series of aggressive crackdown on protests. Human rights activists frequently accuse Turkish police of using inordinate force to break up protests and of excessively using tear gas and pepper spray against protesters.
Why is it being called a late bloom Occupy wave? Other reports are hinting that there is more behind the clashes. Reportedly, the protest grew into 5,000 (a Facebook-er reports 10,000 in gatherings below) and spilled into the capital Ankara.
'The use of violence by police on this scale appears designed to deny the right to peaceful protest altogether and to discourage others from taking part' said John Dalhuisen, Director of Europe and Central Asia Programme at Amnesty International.
'The use of tear gas against peaceful protestors and in confined spaces where it may constitute a serious danger to health is unacceptable, breaches international human rights standards and must be stopped immediately.' (source)
Protests were also held in a dozen other cities, including one that drew thousands in the third-largest city of Izmir, reports said.
A Facebook friend, Basak, sent us the following message offering some activist ideas:
Dear friends all around the world, 
something brave and significant is happening in Istanbul, Turkey. 
A late blooming Occupy wave one might call it. 
Citizens tired of a bullying government with its corrupt management of public spaces and reckless abuse of land are coming together to protect a public park in the heart of the Istanbul which is under the threat of being demolished so the 94th shopping mall can be built in its place. People are holding in spite of the brutal attacks by the police (today's attack was at 5am in the morning one shall point out! including tear gas bombs, burning the tents, hospitalizing a person...). It is the 3rd day now, more than 10,000 people have gathered in the park! 
Meanwhile, public spaces are being sold to hotels, precious ecosystems are being wasted for more industry, power plants, 3rd bridge over Bosphorus! 
This has become a matter about more than just saving trees. This is an 'I can do whatever I damn well want', fascist mentality that not only supresses but attacks its own people. 
To make matters worse, media channels are being censored so as not to display the news.
#direngeziparki is now the 2nd worldwide trending topic on Twitter. 
Please help us to share this message and stop Erdogan's ruthless, inhumane acts. 
What you can do:
- Forward this message to everyone you know
- Send your support messages through twitter with the #direngeziparki hashtag
- Tag @bbc @cnn @reuters and other large media channels in these posts
- Post this message on facebook
- Let your local and national media channels know
Please help spread the news globally.
We need all the support we can get now. 
Thank you.

A Tweet displayed by the RT report shows the hashtag trend #direngeziparki further proving that when there is a potential corporate-run media blackout or blur, social media tools are invaluable.  

If any of you are in the area, please let us know how you are faring and what you have seen.

Other Reports, Footage, and Updates:

Read Other Articles by Activist Post

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