Turkey’s PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (now aka Recop Tazyik Gazdoğan, a pun on the PM’s name and the Turkish words for “truncheon,” “water cannon,” and “teargas”) issued an ultimatum at a so-called local election kickoff rally in a suburb of Ankara, which everybody knew was an attempt to counteract #OccupyGezi.
Only a few hours later, Turkish police, working as the PM’s official militia, launched a brutal attack on Gezi Park. At this moment (in the earliest hours of June 16) Taksim Square and vicinity are under heavy teargas bombardment. Police are repeatedly attacking Divan Hotel, a part of which has been used as a makeshift medical facility. Many, including children and old people, are injured and being choked on gas. Many also report that police are using a chemical that burns the clothes and skin of people.
Some pieces of news circulating on social media and a few national media:
- Plainclothes policemen pretend to be injured and then arrest and beat up whoever comes to help (@TaksimGParki).
- “All physicians should go to Taksim!”, “An hour more of this, and it will be the darkest night of Turkey’s history. Anybody who has an ambulance should send it to Taksim!” (Istanbul Medical Chamber and Turkish Medical Association).
- Mustafa Altıoklar, a famous movie director who is also a doctor, started a makeshift medical facility, but he is afraid to announce its address because he doesn’t want police to know. For police are brutally attacking medical facilities, too.
- Sabahat Akkiraz, a famous folk-jazz singer and also an MP: “Today politics is over for me. I refuse to sit side by side with those who are oppressing their own people. My life is not important at all!”
- The head of the main opposition party CHP urged police not to obey the orders that are against international law. Many MPs are also attending sit-ins and other protests. One of the MPs (Sezgin Tanrıkulu) has even been tear-gassed in the face while trying to act as a mediator. But no strong action from Parliament as such.
- The number one TT on Twitter #1MilyonYarinTaksime (inviting 1 million people to Taksim to protest the government) was eliminated from the list and replaced by #1MilyonYarınKazlıçeşmeye (inviting 1 million people to PM Erdoğan’s rally) in a matter of minutes. It is a common belief that the ruling party, at the beginning of #OccupyGezi, contracted social media manipulators specifically to manipulate Twitter, which the PM calls “a troublemaker.”
- Hundreds of people are injured; thousands are being forced to inhale teargas and other unknown chemicals; children, old people, patients in makeshift medical facilities — all are under attack.
And yet the Governor of Istanbul calls this “a neat intervention, which doesn’t even necessitate the word ‘intervention.’ Only 29 are slightly injured.” However, the number of makeshift medical facilities alone probably far exceeds 29. @ayagakalktaksim reports a woman (Elif) lost her eye during one such “intervention.” Police are using rubber bullets and aiming them directly at heads.
At the very moment I’m typing these words, all of Turkey have begun to stand up even as Taksim and Gezi Park had been “cleared” of protestors.
- One of the biggest highways in Turkey, E-5, which unites Asia and Europe, is shut down by demonstrators walking towards the Bosphorus Bridge to join Taksim protesters.
- Virtually in all quarters of Istanbul thousands of people are protesting. Especially people from the Gazi Quarter, where more than 30 people were shot to death by police in 1995, are forcing their way to Taksim.
- In Ankara, which has been subjected to a nightly routine of teargas torture for days, more than ten thousand people including MPs started a sit-in. Many quarters of Ankara are protesting.
- The body of Ethem Sarısülük, whose autopsy indicates that he was killed by a police bullet in the head and who will be buried tomorrow, was in Batıkent (an Ankara suburb) today, accompanied by thousands of people. Those thousands are now together walking towards the Ankara-Istanbul highway.
- İzmir, Adana, Mersin, Zonguldak, Bursa are just a few of the cities in revolt against the brutal assault on Gezi Park.
Whenever they attacked, they were defeated. Whenever they stooped lower, we stood up stronger and increased in number. We can defeat this attack, too, with more solidarity from you.
We need your solidarity — in all forms and all languages!