Crackdown on Carnation Commemoration

Another night of heavy crackdowns took place in Turkey both in Istanbul and in Ankara. As protesters had declared another evening of commemoration for the ones who were killed by police violence, they had announced that everyone would gather in major squares with carnation flowers in their hands and nothing else. There were no flags, no banners, no masks, no homemade medication this time. Thousands approached squares with carnations in their hands and there was a press conference before the ceremony. All those killed and died during the protests were remembered with their names, including the policeman who fell off a bridge when chasing protesters.

After an hour, police forces started surrounding the people in the square and announced that people had been occupying public space and should leave the square immediately so that police could take over. The irony played a crucial game as police pushed people off the square by water cannons and gas bombs, to “liberate” the square from people for “public” use. The thousands who had filled the square earlier were pushed towards Istiklal Avenue and met there with other thousands who came to the most popular entertainment area and the heart of Istanbul for a Saturday night. When police started shooting rubber bullets, aiming tear gas canisters at people and watering everyone with TOMAs clubbers became de-facto protesters and joined in with the resistance in their nice dresses, shiny hats and even some in stilettos.

When there was no violence from civilians, police kept shooting all around and gassed all side streets. Some of the most popularly shot areas were where the local pubs were located and police began their attack “in the name of Allah” like they had started a jihad against protesters. During the nights events several journalists were dragged shortly by police, and were released when they realized that the cameras were broadcasting live. One RT reporter was deliberately shot by water cannon and CNN’s reporter said he was called “son of a b***h” by undercover policemen for reporting the events. One of the 4 channels that still broadcast events, Halk TV’s reporter was silenced by police several times, and eventually her camera’s plug and energy supplies were damaged by police. While international and local civilian media were suffering these, the mainstream media reported the events for a few minutes only and stated “the police is dispersing the crowds very peacefully only using water cannons” when their reporters were coughing  due to excessively used gas bombs in the square.

When the people in the square and on Istiklal reacted to police violence and asked “why are you shooting us? We are all brothers, all citizens of the same country” the police replied in a very sad way stating “only Muslims are our brothers, not you traitors!” The initial jihad chanting and these remarks make it sound like the police are attacking anyone who does not conform to government’s religious plans, yet the Muslim-Democrats have also been subject to police violence as they were protesting throughout weeks; and especially when they expected police to stop attacking during the Islamic call to prayer minutes in the evening.

While the world awaits PM Erdogan’s restraint or the president Gül’s call to end violence, there are only more provocative remarks filled with media’s fake stories and biased coverage to anger government supporters and target the protesters who solely want a guarantee of democratic rights. While the government is guilty of giving these orders and all state bodies applying them without hesitation, opposition parties have a weak stand, as much has been expected of them but almost nothing comes, not even their mere presence to protect civilians with their right to immunity.

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