The day was marked by explanations and press conferences by the AKP officials who have started losing a lot of customers in the businesses they do. As this resistance is mainly led by the general middle class with the contributions of lower classes, the people on the street have always been the biggest customers of the government-related people’s businesses. In order to regain their support, officials have employed several professionals to promote their companies in a way that people would still purchase their products, although they cannot agree on political matters. It might be the first time that there are general boycotts nationally in Turkey.
A second interview marked the day as an anonymous policeman gave an interview to an international journalist. To sum up, he was referring to terrible conditions that police are forced to work under. He said the police were forced to work a non-stop 100 hours the first days and there was no back up, no food or drink supplies. The only thing they were left with was teargas and batons and plastic bullet guns. When several policemen were made to watch the brutal interventions and crackdown, they would not believe it was possible that they treated human beings like that. It is not certain how sincere they are in this call, yet it is also true that they have figured out all the pressure mechanisms on themselves. They get deployed to a place hours before anything begins, left alone without food or drink, they were told to be brutal if necessary, and peer pressure encourages this as they do not want to appear soft among partners. Since, after long hours of working the only thing they want is to go back home to their families, they turn ultra brutal so that it all happens very quick; yet they never realized they would trigger a revolution by setting fire in the camp-site to the tents of protesters in Gezi Park. They complain that they are made to work longer than it was allowed (8 hours per day, 40 hours a week) and their union is not recognized, although unions call on them to strike as they are constitutionally not bound to follow these orders. Even though they complain of this, policemen state that they do not see what they did as excessive force except for kicking with feet; as they say “gas and water cannons are our only weapons against humans, if they allow us use other weapons we will be better off.”
During the day, the Carsi Anarchist Football Supporters Association, now representing the name “Istanbul United” have called for two major actions. The first action that they have organized is the march of 100.000 supporters to Taksim Square, so that police would not be able to intervene (although there are almost half a million people crowding the area now) and the second one is that they sent thousands to Ankara as a support for protesters against the police raids, as it was Carsi that managed to drive back the police raids with panzers and gas. As I am writing these lines right now, people continue to be attacked by police, which started only after midnight. The taxi drivers showed a major solidarity gesture and they blocked the traffic when panzers were behind them somewhere, so that they could not attack protesters.
The city council’s declaration yesterday in Istanbul that there would be no intervention during the weekend, so that police could rest too, caused tension among Gezi Parki protesters. They are now strengthening barricades and re-stocking gasmasks, medical supplies, water stocks etc. Although governor Mutlu declared, “They are still asking; no, no, no, no, there will be no intervention, stop asking” about Gezi Parki, people are still upset that there are major clashes in Gazi Mahallesi (the Alevi majority district of Istanbul, subjected to severe crackdown in 1995 which resulted in about 100 deaths in few days rise up, and left all those responsible without punishment). Gazi Mahallesi started a solidarity uprising for Gezi parki and police brutality is much worse there according to people reporting.
Another big event of the day is chopping down the central forest of Van/Ercis. Although townspeople gathered and said no one wants those trees chopped, government ordered clearing off of the forests and constructing big buildings in city center.
As Erdogan had always been a very cynical and pragmatic politician, always aiming for bigger gains through every possible way, there are many people wondering how come he revealed his non-democratic side suddenly with the May Day protests over a month ago. Many people are looking for him to come up with an explanation that all this will lead to something better; or perhaps just like the theory of westernization: the more authoritarian you force it, the more liberal people will end up when the dust settles.
One last remark could be on that Erdogan is going back to Ankara on Sunday, and Mayor Gökcek is forcing municipal workers and their families to attend greeting. Ankara AKP organizations are sending people sms texts, saying they MUST attend this rally and they will receive free transport as well.