During the day, the prime minister’s remarks at the EU-Turkey meeting have caused much humor among protesting crowds, as his credibility and legitimacy has already faded into darkness after his attitude and rhetoric were proven to be completely different over the last few weeks. As he kept insisting on demolishing all the buildings that were constructed in the early years of republic around Taksim, he kept referring to how they would build a complex for all the people to enjoy with many trees in it and a place where all people could have nice time – within the limits of state morality.
He kept referring to protesters as vandals, plunderers and terrorists, even though it is well documented that in absence of police there is completely no violence, no harassment or any kind of disturbance. The women’s organizations and LGBT communities have been declaring that they had never felt so safe in Taksim before and added the only thing missing from the square is police and the so-called 50% that Erdogan thinks still support him.
After last night’s big street rallies organized by AKP in Istanbul, several people of different backgrounds (lawyers, artists, and many other professions) were complaining that they were accused of organizing a political protest under the cover of an environmentalist one, while it was actually the government herself organizing an AKP rally at 1am, disturbing public peace by making people cheer, shout and honk the car horns on streets in the middle of the night until morning. While peaceful protesters were being beaten up, gassed, chased and ran over by panzer, and shot by water cannons, the supporters of AKP were not even warned even though they were causing much disturbance. And they were even encouraged by the party officials to continue cheering as it was found out that the AKP youth organizations were forcing people to show up at political rally at 1am by sending thousands of sms text messages, telling people “those that fail to participate in the rally, will face organizational consequences”.
Apart from the declarations and speeches by government officials, the day was also important for having received delegation from EU, especially presence of Stefan Fule was important. Because there were EU officials, the police were extra careful about not interfering with anyone. Only after nightfall, the police started raiding the protesters in Ankara and Gazi Mahallesi in Istanbul. Actually when I am writing these lines I have just received a message stating that one person, Murat Cetinkaya (19), was severely wounded after a police attack in Gazi Mahallesi in Istanbul during protest. At this moment, while I am still typing, the clashes still continue as police raids many streets in the district severely. The district had been the home of a big uprising in 90s as well when the government had called military help to sustain the situation and suppress the uprising.
In terms of the visits of Mr. Fule, I can say that there was a missing point in his visits that he was guided to visit during the most peaceful hours. Obviously no one would order the police to raid the peaceful protesters before the eyes of a European official, but a visit could have been made instantly, without earlier notification. While resistance might have taken a much festive atmosphere in many parts, there are still many others being oppressed at the moment. And many others in much smaller cities that are sensing that they are losing national support for them and that Gezi Park was the sole reason for rising up against the police state.
Gazi Mahallesi clashes still continue and it is also rocked by the fact that certain health personnel do not wish to serve in these areas or help protesters. Some health personnel act with political motivations across country and deny health-reach to protesters in need while their urgent needs are supplied by volunteers.
Another important aspect of the day was the reflections put forward by the “teacher” of PM Erdogan, the leader of the Gulen movement; that the brains of youth should have been controlled much better from early childhood and handled with care. And he continued to add that if these people protesting were human beings, they would have protested in peace and then went back home to organize an opposition movement to participate in the next elections (disregarding the fact that the protesters were occupying Gezi Park mainly because the government had decided to demolish it at 1 am while the court had ruled against demolishing plans).
One last note of the day could be on the media. It is absurd to see several newspapers appearing with the exact same headline and same photos for today. They are publishing identical stories without any credit for protests and full support of Erdogan. While most papers and the TV stations rely on the support of government-linked businesspeople and they can not risk their existence by reporting pro-protest stories. They will simply not report or write disinformation stories about protests which leave a harmed public opinion. It is also a pity that the foreign press is focused on Istanbul centers and very seldom Ankara; while most violent clashes at the moment continue in other smaller cities and there is no other solution to this than foreign press employing Turkish reporters (or perhaps employing the citizen journalists from the field and using their tweets perhaps?).
Main problem behind media’s ignoring the events or misinformant reporting is “approval generation” for the government perhaps but there is also an even deeper problem called “shadow violence” by which I mean the police being uncontrolled (as cctv cameras get turned off when police raids a district) and in absence of media reporting or cameras showing police also easily blocks the road for ambulances and prevent the wounded protesters receiving healthcare by volunteering health workers and ambulances.
While all these events are going on, TVs and newspapers still try hard in generating public opinion, and deputies of AKP keep blaming protesters for all the violence unleashed by the riot police squads. As they keep denying responsibility, the protesters actually get marginalized by a very fanatical group, which is ready to crash protesters and already claim the lives of those occupying Gezi Park. The city security council of Istanbul had gathered today and decided no interference to occupation until only Monday …