Pin It

Occupy Istanbul

As riots erupt across Istanbul, our correspondent tells us why Turkish youth are furious

For the last four days, Istanbul has been witnessing an uprising that is likely to spread across the whole of Turkey – all because Istanbulites have united to protect Gezi park.

Our government has shown its true repressive colours a lot recently, like when it demolished the historical Emek Theatre and put restrictions on the 'next-day' pill and alcohol consumption. They even got their hands on PDAs by announcing that people should ‘act within their morals’. So it's hardly surprising then that replacing one of the few green spaces left in the heart of Istanbul with a shopping mall incited a backlash. Especially when the news is followed by this announcement from the Prime Minister: 'They can do whatever they want, we decided to destroy it and we will'. 

There has been some serious pressure on the Turkish media to censor what's been happening. But social media has been rife with accusations of pepper spray, pressured water, plastic bullets and beatings from the police.

Rumour has it that government-aligned people are making personal calls to all the mainstream media agencies. And most of them don’t have the ability to resist - like all socities where fear and oppression rule, only a certain group of people have accurate information on what’s really going on. 

People are blaming the police for all the excessive violence. Hundreds have been injured, while a 20 yr old by the name of Kerem Can Karakas, dead. Some photos show that there are even tourists on the scene with injuries.

But despite the heavy policing, an activist in the area tweeted that 10 policemen threw away their badges and joined in the riot. Perhaps blame should rest on the shoulders of those who gave the police power in the first place? The same people who have decided to make our 3G a target, our one and only outlet at this moment. It looks like jammers have been put in place – a device normally used in times of war – to obstruct any communication signal. And it's been said that Twitter will be blocked by the government in a matter of hours.

Given the fact that social networks have been used to contact lawyers, as well as the voluntary medical personnel in the area (yes, people do need volunteer medical staff because as the Minister of Health has recently stated, "it is impossible to expect an ambulance or public medical help when you don't obey your government and security forces"), it's not difficult to see how our government could block an uprising by just blocking the Internet.

Like I explained at the beginning, this uprising is not just about a park. We have lost our patience with the increasing oppressive regulations. We are fighting back for the sake of a FREE city, a FREE country and a FREE world where artists, minorities and marginals can live in peace and stand behind their past just as much as they do for their future; #DIRENGEZIPARKI (Gezi Park, hold on).