After a few days of non-reporting, here is a short summary and an update on the events going on in Turkey around the Gezi Movement.
After last week’s “final raid” by the police on Gezi Park, the park occupation by civilians has ended and the police occupation of the park has begun. This incident has been reported in almost all the mainstream print and visual media as “liberation of the park” with additional comments stating “now the park is the people’s, and everyone can enjoy it freely!” Except for the “liberation” of the park, there has been one other piece of “good news”: the terror instrument of German pianist Davide Martello – a piano – has been released from police confiscation – ironically reminding everyone of Nazi attacks against Polish violinists during WW2.
As legal promises have been given to protect the park by court decision, protesters no longer insist on the park and have been continuing their protest at a much higher level of intellectualism. While the officials have proven to be ineffective in solving people’s problems, one important word was spoken by Istanbul Governor Mutlu when he invited everyone to come talk to him in person at another park than Gezi, in Besiktas. Starting with this park-meeting, people have almost simultaneously decided to make this movement into a forum of civilians on streets, meeting in parks with open microphone, talking about all problems, aspirations, desires, demands and dreams they have.
For days these park forums have served as a truly democratic entity and enlightened many people on the democratic demands of the society. It has been a great opportunity for individuals to speak up for themselves without expecting “someone” else to take care of matters of freedom. However, the mentality that has targeted the “standing people,” and before that the peaceful protests, has come to the surface again, disturbing a completely peaceful park forum in the Yenikoy district of Istanbul.
While hundreds of forum speakers had been in the park discussing the local problems and possible solutions for even larger problems of the community, according to the park community the district’s elected chief called some people to action and shortly there were about 20 men armed with knives attacking people and shouting the slogans PM Erdogan had used earlier during his speech in Mersin. This mob attack was not prevented by the police, nor was there police intervention even afterwards. The forum speakers had to investigate the situation themselves, and listed tweets from the attackers, although the same attackers later on deleted their Twitter accounts.
So far three people have been stabbed and have been hospitalized, and there are also two others who were slightly wounded. It is a pity that the local Governor and other responsible authorities of the state have so far done nothing about this attack against democratic processes. Knives, clubs and the PM’s slogans have really been the major obstacle to exercising democracy in recent days.
Not only was there a mob attack against forum speakers, but also there was yet another crackdown in the city of Mersin, where PM Erdogan was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Mediterranean Games, which turned into a major Turkic-fest. As non-AKP members could not find any tickets to this international event, the ceremony turned into a government show. As AKP youth organizations from neighboring cities joined in as viewers of the events, it was no wonder people in the streets could not find any tickets.
Many people had thought this kind of precaution would be taken by the government in order to avoid a repeat of the Galatasaray Stadium Crisis (thousands had chanted against Erdogan and whistled during the opening ceremony of the new GS stadium). This time, thousands had gathered in the city’s forum and started a peaceful protest, which police said would disperse. As people started a sit-in, the police intervention began and continued in a violent manner, again with water cannons, gas, and batons.
As police forces have also been complaining about the intensity of the situation, another surprise came to them; annual assignments and vacations have been cancelled for security forces. Due to the extremely hard conditions security forces are being forced to work under, there have been several policemen declaring nervous breakdowns and reporting depressive behavior and suggesting that they have been considering committing suicide.
While doctors, lawyers, journalists and standing people are being detained and violent government-linked mobs are spared any legal intervention, while individual policemen are being blamed for every act of violence rather than their superiors who give the orders and threaten them with firing, democratic civil resistance still continues and tries to spread the word. It might be the most important thing to do when facing angry government supporters who wish to silence all else and never let anyone talk in public unless the talk is in favor of the government. Civil society continues to use words, peace and their alternative plans for the development of society and their country.