Infinity: The Views of a Dreamer
Brutality Marking the Anniversary of Gezi
Written by Aaron Peterson | 6/2/2014
May 31st, Gezi Square… Thousands of people of differing backgrounds in Turkey took to the streets in order to mark the anniversary of the protests in Gezi Square in a peaceful commemoration. As with last year’s protests in Gezi, the riot squad and police filled the area packing it to the brim; reacting with unnecessary force, beating down women and tear gassing peaceful demonstrators, going as far as to detain the youth. A sign of how the regime in Turkey, lead by the AKP with Erdogan at the forefront feels about the voice of dissent questioning his government and his own personal power.
[Gezi Square; 2013]
A year ago, the original protests began in Gezi Square, as a simple effort to protest the destruction of a community park by the Turkish government. With the force applied by the government towards protestors, a much more broad campaign was built against the rising authoritarianism, restrictions on free-organizing and free speech. Gezi Square quickly became a symbol for Turkey, of the protests in Tunisia, as more Turkish youth poured out to speak out against what they saw as wrong. Only to be met with violence at the hands of the riot squad personally mandated by the Turkish leader, Erdogan.
[A woman in red, assaulted at the hands of the riot squad]
Since the beginning of the protests of last year, at least 7.5 million have took out to the streets in Istanbul to speak against authoritarianism, violation of rights, media censorship and disinformation, the government’s involvement in Syria, police brutality, corruption and internet censorship. Sit-ins, strikes, demonstrations, protest marches and civil disobedience have become rife. The most peaceful methods being met with the most heavy handed tactics, turning to the tools of punishing with violence any level of organization, any level of protest and any level of opposition. In order to put this further, the Turkish government has acted to restrict internet usage and has used the media in which it has influence on as propaganda against the youth which have gone out and protested. 19 have been killed, 8,163 have been injured, 63 are in serious condition with at the very least 3 at the risk of death, 4,900 have been arrested and around 100 are still held in custody with detaining operations being used in order to stop any potential organizing of protests.
[Tear gas fired in Instanbul]
With the past year of popular demonstrations and the violent crackdowns. What makes the government of Turkey exempt from the same international standards that have been applied to Egypt and Tunisia? What has given it the very right to kill, arrest, assault and detain peaceful activists? To restrict the media and ban popular internet websites such as YouTube in an attempt to cover up corruption? Is it Turkey’s position with the European states, it’s influence in NATO or perhaps, even it’s stance in supporting Islamist factions in the Syrian Civil War? There is one thing for sure though, that’s Turkey has been given a lax set of rulings in comparison to Ukraine, Egypt, Tunisia and many other countries marked by protests in the past year; it’s been allowed and given direct permission to crackdown with the most violent force as needed in order to protect the upper echelons of it’s government from losing power. May 31st, 2014 alone saw 25,000 police officers, 50 trucks with water cannons, armored cars and helicopters to meet young Turkish men and women who went out to commemorate the initial protests in Gezi. Just how long will other governments remain silent on Erdogan’s actions?
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