It was the day of grand opening, after a day of postponement by the government due to Saturday night’s police intervention to Gezi Park. The governor, mayor and many other AKP officials were present at Gezi Park alongside over 200 journalists asking questions. The police did not allow too many civilians in the park during the opening ceremony. As the mayor called for an end to all kinds of protests and blamed the peaceful protesters for provoking police to turn violent, someone in the crowd asked “will we be allowed to kiss in the park, I would love to show my affection to my wife with a simple kiss” to which the governor replied “if society allows it…” (and this was the facial expression of officials when they heard the word “kiss” from a man)
The park being opened, was welcomed by thousands of people. So many of them wanted to see the park, for which 4 people were killed, dozens left without an eye, still dozens in critical condition, over 9.000 wounded and hundreds under arrest. There were elders, disabled and children present in the park when police started evacuating the district of Taksim, not only the park. It had been just two hours that park was open when police forces announced that all shops be closed for pre-emptive action. Some shop owners did close down, some others did not. Then came gas, water cannons and shooter-panzers called spiders.
(Detention scene of Taksim Solidarity members)
The view in Taksim looked like the police forces were playing video games with unlimited ammunition. Rubber bullets and water cannons shooting anyone that moves and those staying in their homes were hardly able to breathe due to excessively used gas. Once again, there was intervention without a reason, which later was responded with a declaration by Taksim Solidarity.
(Use of acidic water became a regular habit for water cannons now)
Taksim Solidarity announced that they will read a press statement at 7pm, regarding the opening of the park, guarantee of civil liberties and freedoms, police violence and arrest of so many people as well as commemoration of the killed people. Before they could even start reading the press statement, they were detained by police. Many intellectuals, academics, professionals, artists, politicians were detained by force.
In the mean time Istanbul Technical University’s graduation ceremony was attacked by AKP mobs with clubs and stones, chanting the name of PM Erdogan. Later on, water cannons and riot police took over the campus area and prevented any further protest by attacked people. This happened to be just another pressure on academia, after last week’s forcing professors to resign or detaining them.
One other significant event of the evening was a man, dressed very similar to the machete man, shooting pistol in Taksim. People ran away, and hid behind blocks from bullets. When he was gone, someone collected the empty shells and brought to police forces, asking them to investigate on issue and arrest the man with gun. The person who brought the empty shells and filed a complaint was detained for protesting and disturbing public peace.
As all these happened, Turkish media turned towards Egypt and on all TV channels that did not show penguin documentaries or nightly TV contest shows, there were discussions concerning the security problems in Egypt. Turkish officials gave out remarks stating “it cannot be justifiable nor defended when a government directs guns at her own citizens, and guns that are paid by those citizens.” The irony in this statement caused anger among protesters as they were getting shot with rubber bullets from short distance, hit by water cannons or gassed at best.
Headquarters of several civil society organizations and profession-lodges were raided, including the TS building where a meeting was being held by non-detained members and supporters concerning the detention of forefront names, including Mücella Yapici, secretary of architects’ lodge.
Lastly, around midnight when park was opened again for public use and people’s forum was established to discuss their problems, the police troops started marching on side streets in residential neighborhoods, shouting the infamous slogans commonly used by military troops such as “all is for the fatherland” or “blood spilled for the fatherland”. This kind of behavior has been present especially in the southeastern Kurdish cities with military parades in city centers as part of psychological pressure for decades, now the conditions for “state of emergency” seem to be applied in Istanbul too.