Update from Turkey

What follows is an impression from a fellow student/activist from Istanbul who is studying in the Netherlands. He describes how the biggest riot Turkey has seen in decades got started, how it is developing and provides some links for further reading/viewing. *

I guess you’ve heard of the biggest riot Turkey has seen in decades. I wanted to share some highlights for your information:

The protest that sparked the riot was an occupation of the Gezi Park (in Taksim square, Istanbul) against the demolition plans of the park. The government wanted to build a shopping mall instead (there is a boom of shopping malls in the last few years in Istanbul). Protesters stood against the bulldozers and planted new trees in place of the uprooted ones. Police used an excessive amount of pepper gas against them and early on the 30th they burned the tents of the protesters with their laptops and instruments in them.

This video above summarizes the events that took place around Taksim Gezi Park’s occupation by the people in Istanbul in the First Week of Gezi Resistance.


On Friday thousands of people (with no organization leading them) showed up in Gezi park and joined the resistance. By night the football supporter groups and leftist organisations showed up in the square. After hours of fighting the police were swept off Taksim square and the whole square is under the occupation of the protesters since then. No police has entered the square yet.

Again on Friday large and bloody protests began in İzmir and Ankara (the capital) too, and also in the Kurdish capital (Diyarbakır/Amed) and in numerous smaller cities of Turkey (Adana, Antalya, Denizli, Eskişehir, Ordu, Rize, Samsun, Batman, Bodrum, Isparta … etc.).

Police hunted people who have taken refuge in random houses of supporters, threw pepper gas cans intentionally towards people (illegal by law), threw pepper gas (they say now they use a stronger (and illegal) gas, but there are lots of misinformation and provocation going on in the social media) into hospitals, buses, houses. They beat people randomly and arrested and injured hundreds (thousands?) of people. News of deaths also wonder around.


On Saturday I read that the number of protesters in İstanbul was close to a million. Up to now lots of people and organizations declared solidarity from around the world (including the leftist highlights Chomsky, Zizek and Harvey). Anonymous started bringing down the government websites yesterday night (#OpTurkey). Redhack (a hacktivist group from Turkey) is also hacking police and government websites.

Unfortunately there was only one TV channel that displayed what is going on. (a nationalist/kemalist channel). There is a big ban on local broadcasts. The riots are fueled by the social media and personal broadcasts/streams. There are news of journalists and TV channel workers joining the protests. Also I’ve heard of police officers returning their IDs and guns to join the riot.

This riot has attracted all who has been fed up by the government (recently they put a regulation on alcohol sale and limited abortion rights) It is a very heterogenous crowd on the streets (nationalists, anarchists, socialists, football supporters, LGBT organisations, people with no political affiliation –all who have collected griefs) A significant amount of my Facebook friends, for example, that have never been to any protest are on the streets.

Live streams, photographs and videos:

* We hope that the information provided here is as close to the truth as possible. It is hard however to verify all the information and details.