As part of a weekly routine, Istanbul experienced yet another weekend of police violence when thousands of people wanted to visit Gezi Parki, having received the court decision to keep it as a park and after governor declared it ”open to public visiting”; except no one is allowed other than police. Once again, it was a crowd of many different people, children, elder people, disabled people, students, men, women, anti-capitalist Muslims, LGBT communities, leftists, nationalists… And once again they were all faced with excessive police violence, upon minister of interior’s declaration “no protest can ever be allowed, and of course we will disperse any crowd that gathers.”
Democratic rights of civilians were thus put on shelf, and thousands of policemen and undercover agents started arresting anyone around. Cafes and restaurants got their fair share of tear gas while people were hit by water cannons on streets. When a new weekend crackdown was added to list of many, it proved to be one that expands in scope.
When protesters had said “it’s not just Gezi Park any more” no one would expect the same phrase to be used by government officials as well. It cannot be the park any more, nothing can explain this hatred that targets popular tourist destinations, heart of night life and center of cultural zones in and around Taksim.
People were subject to tear gas, they were hit with batons simply when they were enjoying a few drinks in cafes and bars. People were being shot by plastic bullets, from a distance of 50 centimeters, and if they complained of violence they were getting beaten more. Many journalists experienced violence, and their working conditions were hardened while they were already reporting under harsh conditions. As police were detaining the protesters who were gathering to mimic water cannons through a water-gun fight game, there came several people with machetes attacking people on the streets.
When angry machete men started attacking people on the street, no one dared to stop them. Police did not even intervene, as they were busy detaining protesters, gassing children in the park, chasing after disabled people. When finally, after much uproar by protesters, the machete men were detained, they were quickly brought to court, where they were released.
As on Friday night when AKP organized a rally to protest military coup in Egypt, there was no police intervention against blocking the traffic or disturbing public peace at midnight or the vandalism against Egyptian consulate building. In shade of these double standards, another event was organized on Sunday, under the name of “Gassed Man Festival” in Kadikoy, where hundreds of thousands of people who had enjoyed a good amount of teargas before cheered with protesting bands and musicians.
While all these are happening in the larger frame, on a more specific basis, journalists and bloggers are being accused of espionage for unheard international alliances, and people continue being targeted.