Occupy Istanbul hits London

As riots continue to cause uproar in Turkey, Trafalgar Square hosts its own protest

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As riots run through Turkey, for the fourth night in a row Trafalgar Square became the British epicentre of demonstrations. Where Istanbul had destruction, beatings and murders, London saw peaceful protest – but anger still lingered in the summer air. With many of the protesters’ own flesh and blood clashing with Police, the mood of the crowd was clear from the makeshift shrine to Abdullah Cömert – one of the growing number of young fallen martyrs of the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – that furnished the steps of The National Gallery. Hundreds of demonstrators, mainly families, vented their anger at the police's brutal tactics on their “heroic brothers and sisters”. Shouts of authoritarianism and imperialism were only quelled when a speech from their spokesman Tolga (who declined to provide his family name), described the situation in Turkey as “fascist thugs who are attacking people simply exercising their rights to oppose the regime”.

As protester's chants began to drown-out the speaker, more groups arrived to show their support. One newcomer (who wishes to remain anonymous) explained how these are not simply governmental errors; this is part of a bigger picture, rooted in the “feudal-like” systems implemented by the Turkish neo-bourgeoisie. For him, the protestors in Istanbul strike at the throats of the Anatolian Tigers – a new breed of bourgeois coerces with “aggressive globalised policies” who have made money by “selling public property”. This is a place where “women fight pepper spray, journalists have no voices” and students are “laying down their lives” for the fight.

Tolga explained to me how the Turkish Prime Minister has adopted a policy of intimidation, threatening people back to their homes through acts of terror. There are stories “that you and I may not hear in the media.” He tells me of a man who, defying the media blackout, opened his home as a safe-haven to protesters “fleeing from police oppression” through messages on Twitter. Consequently, he was “pin-pointed” by police who went to his home, broke in and “threw the member of this family from the balcony”, plunging him to his death.

On the morning of his death, Abdullah Cömert stated in a series of Tweets that “in the last three days I have only managed to sleep for 5 hours… and have experienced the threat of death…but today at 6am, I am still fighting on.” It is perhaps this testimony to the determination of the Turkish people that best sums up the resolution felt here in London. 

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