Dispatches from Ankara: Correspondence from a Protester

Yotam Ronen/Al Jazeera: The Ankara-based Human Rights Association says up to 1,000 people have been injured in protests.

Yotam Ronen/Al Jazeera: The Ankara-based Human Rights Association says up to 1,000 people have been injured in protests.

Ankara, Turkey

Following up from Clarity Within the Smoke: Thoughts From Inside Turkey’s Uprising, a candid look into the situation is Istanbul, Bay Area Intifada (BAI) sought out those in Ankara after a brutal attack by police on live TV.  Melih, a 24-year old protestor on the ground in Ankara found us instead.

These brief conversations took place between June 6 -9 (Turkey Dates).  The first dispatch will be the most recent. After that all correspondence is presented in chronological order starting with the first communication between Melih & BAI:

Barricades being built in Ankara

Barricades being built in Ankara

Posted by Melih: Approx 6:33pm (Ankara); June 6 8:33am (PST)

Hello from Turkey, Ankara!

I have read your amazing post and it is a really good interview. Let me tell you what is going on in Ankara as a protestor.

The police violence in Ankara ceased on Tuesday. Government made a statement that police would never attack, unless they are attacked and would not use tear gas. Then yesterday in the Kızılay Square, police makes an announcement somewhat like “There are people who will attack the police, please disband and leave!” Yet, when there were no attacks, this happens(the video is in Turkish but you can clearly understand what’s going on):

There were also protestors in Tunalı Hilmi, Kuğulu Park. They were chanting and dancing. Suddenly, with no reason and with no WARNING, police attacks the children, elderly, everybody in Kuğulu Park. My friend described it as “The gas came out of nowhere, suddenly there were tear gas shells dropping from sky. We did not see any police around, they just turned around the corner and started attacking us.” After that people started to build up barricades to defend themselves. Yes, people of the Turkish Republic is defending themselves from the police that is supposed to protect themselves.   

I was home yesterday, so I saw it all on live stream by volunteers. Only one private channel was showing the events. Tonight, after I leave work, I am off to streets once again to protest and to be heard. We want to be heard and we want be understood. By the way, I would gladly tell you what happened in the previous days in Ankara.

Sent from Melih: Approx 1pm (Ankara); 6 June, 2:49am (PST)

I want to hear what you have to say. Let me know where you are. Age. Occupation. Ideology/ Religion and which way you’re involved in the uprising.

My name is Melih and I am a 24 years old male :). I working as a
consultant (some times part, sometimes full) and studying Economics. I
believe in Muslim values but I could be considered as a deist that tries to
live his life in a proper and a decent way. Ideologicaly, I am somewhat
anti-militarist but not like a hippi. I certainly do not believe violence
and supression could be the solution. I am in favor of liberties.

To be sincere, I did not believe that “they” could change anything when the
Gezi Park protest began with a few dozen activists. Then when the police
raided (yeah, they actually raided them), I started to feel anger. The
second raid was where I snapped and decided to take action. Because they
were innocent and peaceful people and what the police have been doing them
was unjust and certainly violent. Now it became “we” instead of “them”.

I am against the demoliton of the Gezi Park and I am against the violence
that’s being continued everywhere else than Istanbul.

Email from Melih: Approx 1pm (Ankara); 6 June, 2:49am (PST)

Can you tell me how the past 24hrs have gone?

I will tell you the last 48 hours of the protest, since a day have passed. Istanbul protests are ongoing in Taksim Square and Gezi Park. On Wednesday
people in Ankara started gathering in Kızılay Square and Güvenpark(a parkbay intifada ankara pigs
located in the square), most of them were highschoolers joined with
unions(which are on strike). Protests went without any intervention till 7
P.M(I am not sure with the exact time). Then there have been an
announcement from the police force “We believe that there are provacators
in your peaceful protest. Disband and leave!”. People of course did not
leave, and as I have posted in the comment they started attacking the
people in square. Many fled. If you wish I can try to find the footage of
the police attack.

After people disbanded they started to move to Tunalı, Kuğulu Park. Not the
in the form of unions but as people who are not standing for any political
idea than their freedom. It was around 9 P.M that the police attack started
in Tunalı. There were pregnant, children and elderly amongst the
youngsters. They did not discriminate.

My friends described it as “We were chanting and dancing. Suddenly they
were all over us with tear gas and water cannons. We did not see them
coming, there were not any warning.” and other friend described her terror
as “We hid in an apartment. The police who saw us entering the apartment
fired a tear gas shell to the window. Hopefully window did not crack.” A
note here, usage of tear gas in closed areas is banned and illegal. The
attacks continued till 1 A.M. till all people were gone. There were also
mass arrests.

Yesterday people did not gather in Kızılay, not as much as before, maybe a
thousand. I was in Tunalı with more than 10.000 people. Protests were much
like a festival. People were chanting and dancing. There were no
interventions by the police. So all did go well, no windows were cracked
and no barricades were made. I think the passive situation of the police
was related with the coming of the PM. I think they did not want to focus
hatred on PM by attacking people on the same day as he arrives.

I would like to translate a tweet of a Turkish actor on the issues in
Ankara: “Ankara is like a big brother to Istanbul. Istanbul was beaten and
bullied. Then the big brother came and started fighting with the bullies.
Istanbul is hiding at home.” I certainly agree with it, since the media
attention is on Taksim, nobody started to care about Ankara and police is
getting relentless in Ankara. I will be going to the protests and I am
expecting a heavy attack for tonight.

Today at 1.30 A.M, PM arrived to Atatürk Airport in Istabul. His AKP
gathered a few thousand pro-government people, there were free subway and
busses to the airport that the government closed to protestors in Taksim
and Kızılay. Pro-government people in the airport chanted “Taksim don’t
make us mad or we’ll come and trample you”. Nobody, nobody tried to stop
them. As if trampling or lynching people is a democratic right.

Today, just an hour ago, secret police and the crow control police(I do not
know what they are called) tried to remove the tents of people who are
camping in Kuğulu Park, Ankara. People who were just passing intervened
with them till the mayor of Çankaya district(we also have minor mayors in
every city and mayor of the city), Bülent Tanık came with few press man and
cameras and sent them away.

What is happening with the strike?

I think nothing will come out of the Strike. Because they are unions and
people are biased against unions, since they are related to many scandals
in 90s. Leftist(KESK, DISK, mainly labor unions) and nonpro-government
unions(Doctors, Lawyers, etc) are striking. It’s a two day strike that
should last today. Mayor of Ankara, do not confuse it with mayor of
Çankaya, I. Melih Gökçek said “Any of the employess who have joined the
strike and does not give a formal letter of their regret will be fired.”
Also, mayor of Izmir(3rd biggest city) did the same statement.

To clarify things, Mayor of Ankara is from AKP, Mayors of Çankaya and Izmir
are from CHP(main opposition party). I do not know what the hell the mayor
of Izmir is doing while CHP is supporting the strike. So do not ask 🙂

Are people afraid the military will take power?

I do not think that people are afraid that military will take over. Some
pro-CHP people think that military should take over and some pro-AKP people
are afraid that they will take over. In my opinion, military should never
take over. Whenever military takes over all the progress is gone. People
are claiming that Tayyip Erdogan is a dictator but the military taking over
and some general being President is no better than that. Some people still
can’t understand that. The people, youth like me in the streets thinks
somewhat same as me. As a generation we have not seen any coups but we
heard what it is like and it is bloody. We want to continue as peacfully as
we can. Most of the protestors define themselves as passive resistance.

Does this remind you of Egypt?

Well this reminds of Egypt, as far as I know those protests were peaceful
as they began. The difference is we do not have a dictator(or PM) like
Egypt. I mean he has not been ruling for decades and people of Turkey
started to rise up before he claimed more and more power. So, it may be
more peaceful than Egypt but only maybe. Because I am afraid that our PM
will do what Mubarak did in Tahrir.

I have just read his last statement and he is still saying that they will
demolish the park and make the barracks asking that where were the
protestors before the elections…

That is all I have to say right now.

[End Correspondence]

Bay Area Intifada Note:

From the intensification of street fighting between riot police and demonstrators in Istanbul, we know now that the violence of Erdagon did not shift to Ankara, nor did it spread to Ankara. The violence of the state exists in every city in Turkey and waits to be unleashed on those who dare to confront it, even those who do not–as with every city on the planet. The demonstrators in Gazi District have taken up the use of molotov cocktails, among other things, to keep the riot police and giant armored trucks at a distance. You can see it here in a Reuters’ clip, “Clashes Intensify in Istanbul’s District.

the blood of a protestor spilled on the street in another clash in Istanbul. Protestor is said to be critical condition. gercekgundem.com

the blood of a protestor spilled on the street in another clash in Istanbul. Protestor is said to be critical condition.
gercekgundem.com

From Sendika.org  Late last night, early this morning in Gazi:

About 40 thousand people marched to the police station in the Gazi district. The police attacked with tear gas. A gas bomb exploded near the head of one demonstrator, and he was severely injured. He’s said to be in critical condition at hospital. Sendika.org writes (rough translation):

“Police clash in Gazi district yesterday, injuring a protestor in the head with a high who had a tear gas canister explode next to her head.  19-year-old Murat Cetinkaya. She was rushed to a private medical facility and underwent brain surgery due to the trauma.”

Another person is also said to be in hospital after being seriously wounded from clashes in Gazi.

 From Global Uprisings, 2pm June 8 (Gezi District, Istanbul):

although gezi park and taksim square are calm now, it’s not going to stay that way long. the prime minister is back and has made some very bold statement on tv. i don’t think the police will not move in on the park this weekend. the police chief even said “we are not doing anything until monday.” the danger of the situation now is that people have gotten comfortable and have forgotten how dangerous the police are and that this is not a rock concert. if they just paid attention and realized that the entire area is littered with burnt cars and massive barricades, it would help. those burnt structures aren’t public art pieces. people need to stay vigilante, since i think the police might attack early this week. there’s no way that the government will allow all of taksim to be barricaded off from the rest of istanbul and for people to do whatever they want here. one of the wildest things here is the total freedom of taksim. there are no police, so people pretty much just do whatever they want to do and i don’t think this will last. that’s completely unrealistic. “

Melih contacted Bay Area Intifada again with a brief update. June 8,  1:35pm (PST):

Hello again,

The past 24 hours have been calm. Police pulled away from the squares and
people are protesting as they want. There have been minor incidents such as
police trying to move the tents of protestors in Kuğulu Park but they have
been solved by calm people. Today spokesman of AKP has made the same
statement and they will build the barracks as a museum now. You know
yesterday it was a opera house 🙂

Moments later we received another correspondence from Melih:

By the way, police started to attack in Kızılay, Ankara just a few moments
ago. I’ve heard that there is an injured person.

 From Al Jazeera’s Live Blog. June 8, 11PM (Ankara); 1PM (PST)

Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse thousands of people demonstrating Saturday in the centre of Ankara on the ninth day of nationwide protests against the government, an AFP photographer said.

Hundreds of riot police flooded the demonstrators with gas to dislodge them from Kizilay Square, the scene of week-long anti-government protests.

Video from police/gas attack in Kizilay, Ankara:

 

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3 thoughts on “Dispatches from Ankara: Correspondence from a Protester

  1. Pingback: Dispatch from Ankara: Update from Turkey’s Uprising - We Copwatch

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