Saturday, June 1, 2013

Occupy Gezi

Police gassing protestors in Talimhane, by szaza

For the past three days, people have gathered in Gezi Parkı in Taksim to protest the removal of trees for the massive construction project that the government begun last fall. The plan to turn one of the area's last green spaces into a shopping mall, moved people to peacefully occupy the park. In response, police have attacked protestors with tear gas and water cannons, injuring many, hospitalizing some. I do not know the exact figures, nevertheless, when I came home from work today, my neighbourhood looked like a war zone. Unarmed citizens are being gassed, sprayed point-blank in the face with chemicals, and assaulted by high-pressured water cannons. They even gassed the metro.

Police gassing protestors in Talimhane, by PeF

I tell you, it's madness outside. This evening, a few hundred of us were squeezed into the little hotel-lined streets, which were littered with broken glass, teargas canisters, and pieces of plywood. Fires were set, barricades erected, and the police, silhouetted figures in the orange smoky air, shot gas every other minute at us. A smoking canister bounced off the pavement and hit my left knee, while my right foot received a direct hit. The pain was intense, but then I felt the burning.

Protestors, by PeF
Protester with eye-soothing solution, by PeF
Protestors clapping and singing, by PeF
We eventually made it home safely, though many did not— people are seriously injured, and the Turkish media, who initially ignored the protests, is just now starting to cover the story. I was told by one protestor as he watched me sketch the scene, "Tell the world— you must tell the world what is happening here."

Visit my blog Harika to see the photos, and hear more of the story.

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