As is usual these days, I woke to the array of the puppets still standing, along with all the ‘standing men’ and ‘standing woman’ in Turkey and worldwide who are protesting the increasingly authoritarian practices and tactics of the AKP government. My puppets, they’ve been standing for five days now. But that’s nothing, compared to what people in Turkey are going through.
As the day went by, and I went about my business, I began to notice the puppets hovering around my Twitter feed (still the best source for news in Turkey, they wager).
Soon, I saw wonderful images of peaceful protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. My understanding is that a large group of peaceful protestors gathered to commemorate those lost during the police brutality witnessed during the #OccupyGezi protests.
I watched live feed of the police asking the group to disperse for 30 minutes (although spoken as “friends, please leave”) before police began using the now-infamous TOMA water canons (with and without pepper spray) and tear gas to clear the square.
I watched as an old man stood with his arms up in a sign of submission begged the TOMA to have mercy on people who were literally running the other way and in no way a threat – the police asked him kindly to move, referring to him as “amca” (which means ‘uncle’ and is often used as a term of respect even when you do not know someone). I saw human chains with police shields chase chunks of people away from the square into the side streets. The people looked, literally, like sheep in a
pen ready for slaughter. No, this is not hyperbole. Then I watched as police shot close-range tear gas canisters into that crowded street of peaceful people.
At one point, I saw video of two young men throwing things at the TOMA – and another ‘amca‘ begging the ‘cocuklar‘ (youth) to stop – and begging the police to stop – he turned back and forth saying the same thing before being lost in the fray.
I then saw a small group of peaceful protesters stand in between the two rock-throwing youth and the TOMA begging them not to continue. I began to cry when I saw the police pepper spray a young woman caught on the sidewalk by what appeared to be her family’s shop – she fell, screaming at the pain of the pepper spray, her sister holding her in her arms. She had a light pink sweater on. Her screams were awful, and it appeared to me that her mother – or an aunt perhaps – behind her in the door of the store passed out.
As the night goes on, we are hearing that this continues, that journalists are being attacked by police and/or refused entry to ‘hot spots’ for reporting.
We also hear firsthand reports from Ankara that police are randomly throwing tear gas into residential homes and buildings – as well as lokantas where one person reported that as people choked on the gas, they raised their glasses of raki (anise-flavored liquor, national drink of Turkey).
When M. arrived home, I began to show him, but it was too painful to watch for him. He prefers to read the news – a gentler impact. He is learning how to take care of his secondary traumatic stress.
Remember, folks, it is still legal to congregate for peaceful protest on the books in Turkey…so I’ll let the pictures tell the story now. I wish I could make this post have some sort of like puppet-fueled touch, but they, as I, am once again speechless at the behavior of the police. And to put “the icing on the cake” – a friend in Istanbul just wrote that she had dinner with her son in Istanbul’s Bebek neighborhood – and coincidentally, the President himself was attending a wedding in the same locale. Business as usual in Turkey, under Tayyip the Terrible and Gül the relatively silent?
As one tweep put it, “Most seem to think Tayyyip has mental health issues, and this continues, what to do?” Indeed.
- Casper tear gas grenade maker takes heat over Turkey protests (trib.com)
- Madness in Taksim: how the people brought flowers and the police answered with water cannon (justinhuggler.com)
- Standing still is not a crime (amnesty.org.nz)