Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul

Update from Turkey 9 July 2013:

It was the day of the grand opening, after a day of postponement by the government due to Saturday night’s police intervention in 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…”

The reopening of the park was welcomed by thousands of people. So many of them wanted to see the park over which four people were killed, dozens left without an eye, dozens are still in critical condition, over 9,000 injured and hundreds under arrest. There were seniors, disabled persons and children present in the park when police started evacuating not only the park but the Taksim district. The park had been open for just two hours when police announced that all shops would be closed in a pre-emptive action. Some shop owners did close down, some others did not. Then came gas, water cannons and shooter-panzers called “spiders.”

The view in Taksim looked as if the police were playing video games with unlimited ammunition. Rubber bullets and water cannons were shooting anyone that moved and those staying in their homes were hardly able to breathe due to excessive use of gas. Once again, there was intervention without a reason, later responded to in a declaration by Taksim Solidarity (TS).

TS announced that they would read a press statement at 7p.m. regarding the opening of the park, the guaranteeing of civil liberties and freedoms, police violence, and the arrest of so many people, as well as commemorations of the persons killed. Before they could even start reading the press statement, they were detained by police. Many intellectuals, academics, professionals, artists, and politicians were detained by force.

In the meantime 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 amounted to another form of pressure on academia, after last week’s forced resignation or detaining of professors.

One other significant event of the evening was a man, dressed very similarly to the machete man, shooting a pistol in Taksim. People ran away, and hid behind blocks from bullets. When he was gone, someone collected the empty shells and brought them to the police, asking them to investigate the incident and arrest the man with the gun. The person who brought the empty shells and filed a complaint was detained for protesting and disturbing the public peace.

As all this happened, the 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 its own citizens – that are paid for by those citizens.” The irony in this statement caused anger among protesters as they were getting shot with rubber bullets at close range, hit by water cannons, or gassed.

The headquarters of several civil-society and professional organizations were raided, including the TS building where a meeting was being held by non-detained members and supporters concerning the detention of well-known persons, including Mücella Yapici, secretary of the Istanbul Chamber of Architects.

Lastly, around midnight when the 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.

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

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