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I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

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I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

Postby bigOz » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:24 pm

On a day trip to Istanbul yesterday, I happened to be in a friends office right opposite Taksim Park. Noticing the acrid smell in the air and eyes feeling still sour, I walked by the famed park that has been occupied by peaceful demonstrators for the previous 3 days. I noticed I could not short cut across the park to the offices because special forces police had fenced off the whole perimeter. I also noticed the park was empty. Little did I know that a political storm was on the way.
As I waited outside for my friend to arrive, I found out there were at least 5000 people protesting at the park the night before. The protest has been going on for 3 days and was against uprooting of century old, a dozen trees from almost 3rd of the park (which usually means 2 dozen or more!) to clear the space for a planned construction of a shopping mall. The protesters number grew more and more over the previous 3 days and soon turned into a "mine is bigger than yours" argument with Prime Minister Erdoğan.
http://www.milliyet.tv/video-izle/Taksi ... uCqrK.html
Apparently, in came the police on the early hours of the morning and moved out (using gas and water cannons) the relatively less number of protestors who kept vigil at the park. Many resisted and got injured, but couple of hundred protestors across the road from me took sanctuary at the forecourt of Divan Hotel. Many tourists and others not actively participating lined the streets. Police special forces were on every corner in groups of 50, wearing masks & gas canister guns. Couple of huge armoured vehicles with water cannons stood in the middle of the street.
When the protesters started chanting their slogans and protesting loudly the earlier heavy hand tactics of the police, the war started at around 11 am! The two armoured vehicles started using their water cannons as well as spraying pepper gas from 3 nozzles along both sides. The police charged from all directions and started firing gas canisters at where ever there was a crowd. That included the tourists, the civilians and where I was standing also. People started running away from the effects of the gas. One cannot really know how much it hurts the eyes and the throat even 50-100 yard away from the blasts. The canisters came down all over the place even at those running away at a distance. The ambulances kept coming and taking away all those with breathing difficulties affected by the gas.
Luckily for me my friend had arrived just then and opened the apartment's door allowing us to go upstairs and watch the events from a birds-eye view. The charging and the blast of canisters (like hand grenades) went on for an hour until a workers union called all protesters to meet 200 yards up the road at Taksim square.
That gave us a chance to sit and talk with my friend quitely for couple of hours. Around 4 pm I decided to go down the shopping area (Istiklal Caddesi) next to Taksim and do a bit of shopping before continuing to the airport early evening. BIG MISTAKE!
http://www.milliyet.tv/video-izle/Polis ... jt0qQ.html
As I walked through the square, now heavily guarded by hundreds of masked and armed police and vehicles, my eyes and throat started to hurt terribly. I saw protesters in large groups dispersed through 5 main streets leading into Taksim square, clearly chased by the police and the armoured vehicles. As soon as I heard slogans starting I thought “here we go!”. The police started blasting off their gas grenades charging in all directions again.
There was a great stampede, tourists were in a state of shock, people with crying children seeking sanctuary in the hotels surrounding the square and I foolishly made my way into Istiklal Caddesi where the shops are. By now my throat & eyes (just like everyone else’s) were hurting so much, tears were streaming down my eyes and I found breathing difficult. So many gas grenades went off that it was impossible to get away from it, no matter how fast and how far you walked.
When I saw masked cameramen, I realised just how different and scary such events are in real life than what you see on TV! Scared? I tell you these Turkish young and old protesting had some balls, I actually saw some charging the police just waving flags and chanting.
http://www.milliyet.tv/video-izle/Istan ... ec3Uh.html
As I made my way about a kilometre down Istiklal Caddesi, where almost all shops had brought down their blinds, I saw another armoured vehicle facing the other way and a group of police firing away their canisters at a crowd at the other end of the avenue. Now we were sandwiched between the police blasting away at both ends, everyone including myself made haste (except some protesters bless them!) into the side streets, out of breath and fresh air. By now, I was not sure if the tears were because of the gas or the sadness I felt of how the young police could act this way against their own people for no good reason! The sheer cruelness and sadistic behaviour identified well with most of the police in the World tackling demonstrations. Now they have no sympathy from me!
http://www.milliyet.tv/video-izle/Istan ... jVDLh.html
You expect the police would alone those in the side streets? They started bombarding the side streets as well... That, apparently, was the start of a hide and seek with the protesters, who grew more and more in numbers as time went by. My blood boiling & exchanging few words with 4 young police officers at the other end of the side street, I thought it would be best I made my way to the airport ASAP, before I missed my flight because I ended up spending the night in a police cell.
Crossing over the Bosphorus Bridge I could see a huge crowd heading in the opposite direction from the Anatolian part of Istanbul towards Taksim square, blocking the incoming traffic on the bridge. Having already witnessed a huge crowd gathering at Beşiktaş earlier, I knew this was going to be a very long night.

Soldiers from a nearby camp arguing with the police using gas canisters:
http://www.milliyet.tv/video-izle/-Bura ... pVnIH.html

No comment!
http://www.milliyet.tv/video-izle/-Oran ... FL7f8.html

This morning, I jumped on the internet and followed the news online. The demonstrations and clashes spread out as expected and people were out on the streets in their thousands. There were simultaneous demonstrations in many other cities and towns supporting the cause of the demonstrators in Istanbul. I bow to and respect the resilience and courage of the Turkish people after witnessing what has been going on in Istanbul. They still have the spirit of resistance and strength to fight for democracy, and oppose oppression. I applaud you (as I literally did yesterday every time I passed by a crowd of protesters).
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Re: I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

Postby MGCN » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:51 pm

your links are incomplete. please repost them.
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Re: I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

Postby Kikapu » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:18 pm

bigOz wrote:The protest has been going on for 3 days and was against uprooting of century old, a dozen trees from almost 3rd of the park (which usually means 2 dozen or more!) to clear the space for a planned construction of a shopping mall.


Is this what the reasons really are bigOz, or something much much bigger than these people's reactions against building some stupid shopping mall?
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Re: I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

Postby Get Real! » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:27 pm

Yeah, this is not about a park… it’s about a crazy Islamist dictator; a deluded authoritarian getting ever more repressive with his people, while instigating the destruction of at least one neighbor (Syria) and being a total nuisance to all the rest.

ErdoCunt, does little else than throw stones at others while living in a glass house…



PS: Thanks for the info to BigOz.
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Re: I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

Postby GreekIslandGirl » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:39 pm

Pleased you got out OK, BigOz, and thanks for taking the time to post your experience.

I hope there's a happy ending.
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Re: I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

Postby kurupetos » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:58 pm

GreekIslandGirl wrote:Pleased you got out OK, BigOz, and thanks for taking the time to post your experience.

I hope there's a happy ending.

For who? :wink:
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Re: I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

Postby Tim Drayton » Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:27 pm

Kikapu wrote:
bigOz wrote:The protest has been going on for 3 days and was against uprooting of century old, a dozen trees from almost 3rd of the park (which usually means 2 dozen or more!) to clear the space for a planned construction of a shopping mall.


Is this what the reasons really are bigOz, or something much much bigger than these people's reactions against building some stupid shopping mall?


If I may come in with my opinion, I think things have been building up to this for a while.

Turkish politics have always been corrupt, and the AKP did not invent this system, but they and their cronies are now doing everything to fill their pockets. There is a lot of development going on in Istanbul, much of it financed by capital close to the AKP, including this planned development. Istanbul has relatively little green and open space and the trend of current development in the city seems to be to sweep away remnants of the past of what used to be a secular sort of place, including a lot of the remaining open public space. There have been huge protests recently over the demolition of the historical Emek Cinena to make room for a shopping centre. Then, on the first of May we witnessed a return to the kind of bloody clash that used to take place in Taksim every year as leftists marched to mark international workers' day and that seemingly had been consigned to history with this annual march having been made legal. But no, this year once again the mayday Taksim march was banned - the rationale seeming to be that capital close to the AKP has big plans for this part of the city and they want it to be sanitised so that people will buy the swanky residences they are planning to build there. Sadly, a 17-year-old high school student, Dilan Alp, lost her life in the bloody clash that took place on 1 May in Taksim this year. So, tension has building for some time.

However, much as I personally detest the AKP regime, one has to accept that this party won just under 50% of the vote in the most recent general elections in Turkey (2011), and it is generally accepted that this was a fair poll. So, the AKP does enjoy a lot of support in Turkey and one should be careful about drawing parallels with protests against unelected dictators in certain other countries in the region (although I myself have no doubt that Erdoğan is following a strategy that he hopes will eventually turn him into a Putin-like dictator as president under a presidential system).
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Re: I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

Postby bill cobbett » Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:39 pm

Yes ok Tim... Chemical Erdogan may have been democratically elected but we're in to the area of Tyranny of the Majority, a consensus leader he clearly ain't.

...and yes respect to BigOz for the moving and brill first-hand account.

... and if might add just one picky to this thread; no gas, no violence, no blood, just people, determined people marching across the Bosphorus in their hundreds, who just want their say in Turkey's future...
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Re: I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

Postby Demonax » Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:43 pm

bill cobbett wrote: Chemical Erdogan may have been democratically elected...


Image

I believe the banner reads Chemical Tayyip... :wink:
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Re: I was There yesterday! (events in Istanbul)

Postby bill cobbett » Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:44 pm

Sorry, an old friend of ours just posted this on FB...

What a remarkable sight...
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