Independent Media Centre Ireland

Turkish Protests Escalate: A day of action begins

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | other press author Saturday June 01, 2013 17:00author by repost from Rabble

Turkish police force protestors in Metro station. Fill it with tear gas then lock the doors. 1 dead as a result

A seemingly minor issue to the Turkish government at least has sparked huge protests in Istanbul and in other cities in Turkey where plans to remove a city public park and replace it with a shopping mall has triggered in the space of 24 hours has triggered the protests. It seems everywhere people are fed up with the arrogance of politicians and their corrupt moneyed backers.

The Erdoğan government’s dictatorial approach to town planning has awakened a sleeping giant. In the space of 24 hours a simple protest over a park’s future has become a nationwide rebellion against authoritarian government, violent police and creeping Islamisation of a famously secular society. rabble’s men on the ground
(image Emre Kizilkaya @ekizilkaya on twitter)
(image Emre Kizilkaya @ekizilkaya on twitter)

The report comes from the Dublin magazine Rabble's two correspondents on the ground in Istanbul and they write:

Yesterday saw one of the biggest protests in Istanbul’s history. At 1pm the commercial centre of the cosmopolitan Pera district, Istiklal street, was trading normally. Ice-cream vendors were musically clanging their ladles to attract tourists in the temperate sun, but at the north end of the road, police with riot shields and under cover of a water-cannon were herding protesters into an underground metro station, before filling it with tear gas and locking the doors. At least one person died as a result, and dozens were seriously injured. Another confirmed dead was reported some hours later while hundreds are in hospital ...

[ What we see here and everywhere else is that the pattern of the previous several decades where people protested and some concessions and victories were allowed is now over. The pretense is over. It is naked Fascism in the sense of the proper merger of state and corporate power. Governments everywhere are now rolling back decades of regulations, environmental care, and social protection and justice built up over the last century. They now openly ignore and treat with contempt their populations and carry out their blatant corrupt, ignorant, destructive and violent practices and they have no hesitation in using repressive and violence to crush any opposition and at the same time the mainstream media is generally full onboard. ]

And the report continues:

This follows a string of brutal crackdowns on protesters occupying Gezi Park in opposition to plans to demolish it and construct a shopping mall in its place. Protesters built up from the 26th of May – hundreds initially to over a thousand by Thursday night. The numbers swelled as news spread of a dawn raid that morning in which the police gassed sleeping protesters, and baton-charged them from their tents which were burned at the scene. While the arrival of opposition politicians halted police action that day, the same tactics were repeated the morning at dawn and police remained to prevent reoccupation. Among those injured was Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder during a sit-down protest, having been hit in the shoulder with a gas canister.

The Turkish police are known for their happiness to use tear gas. But protestors estimated that over 100 canisters were used on the morning of the 31st alone, in one of Istanbul’s busiest retail areas which is surrounded by hotels. The Gezi Park protest was already had wide appeal in that it stood against the privatisation of public space. Many Istanbul natives also question the logic of building a shopping mall at the end of a road that is famous for its shops and boutiques.

Their full report is available at the link below and is well worth reading.

Related Link:

Caption: Video Id: OT9Rd1QGmvs Type: Youtube Video
The moment a quiet evening is suddenly turned to panic as police missiles are launched down the main shopping street

Caption: Video Id: 9vi_rJtkty4 Type: Youtube Video
At 8pm the main Trade Union joined the protest and marched toward Taksim Square

Caption: Video Id: xO7V52qWiac Type: Youtube Video
Football ‘Ultras’ supporters groups, the bitterest of rivals, joined forces to try to retake the square. Reports claim that Galatasaray Ultras ‘freed’ some 50 Fenerbahçe Ultras arrested by police.

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