" The peaceful demonstrations in Turkey demanding for democracy, basic civil rights, freedom of speech, expression and press are being violently suppressed by the Turkish Goverment with tear gas, water canons and an extensive usage of a chemical gas called Orange Agent. Millions are exposed to the danger of being handicapped and sick! Many men and women educated and secular from all ages, are already wounded or dead. The Prime Minister Erdogan's threatening speeches prevents the media from broadcasting the demonstrations hiding the real number deadly causilities as well as the intensity of the protests. Turkey, member of NATO and European Council, is known to be the only secular, democratic and Muslim-majority country . In recent years, the agressive policies of the current government including the threatening speeches towards the neighbouring countries, prosecution of intellectuals, arest of 71 journalists (the highest number in the world according to CPJ), and imprisionment of secular millitary officials brought up the issue of countries transformation into an Iran-like fundamentalist authoritarian state. The demonstrations still and hopelessly continues taking the country and its citizens into a caos and increasing the number of causilties each day as their peaceful demands are recklessly ignored by the government. Now, the fellow pro-western citizens of Turkey trying to survive under the lack of media presence need your help. Spread the word and save the lives of millions! "
Doğukan Onur from Los Angeles
PLEASE LET EVERYONE KNOW THAT WHAT THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER SAID ON TUESDAY, JUNE 4, HAS NO CONNECTION TO THE FACTS. PEOPLE PROTESTING NON-VIOLENTLY ARE BEING GAS-BOMBED OR SHOT AT WITH PLASTIC BULLETS. I PERSONALLY CAN ATTEST TO THIS, AS I WAS IN GEZI PARK ON MONDAY WITH A FEMALE FRIEND, SINGING AND SHOUTING SLOGANS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT'S FASCISTIC ATTITUDE, WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN OUR EYES AND THROATS STARTED TO BURN FROM TEAR GAS WAFTING OVER. NOT A SINGLE ACT OF VIOLENCE BY THE CROWD HAD BEEN SEEN, NOR WAS SEEN THEREAFTER.
IN ANKARA, THE POLICE HAVE BEEN FAR MORE RELENTLESS, NOT ALLOWING ANY KIND OF PROTEST AND TREATING THE PROTESTORS BRUTALLY: AS I AM WRITING, TERRIBLE THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN THE CITY.
IN RIZE (THE PRIME MINISTER'S CONSTITUENCY), THOSE VOICING THEIR RESISTANCE IN THE STREETS FOUND THEMSELVES SURROUNDED AND THREATENED BY AK PARTY SUPPORTERS, WHILE THE POLICE STOOD THERE, EXHIBITING BYSTANDER APATHY. THE SAME IS TRUE OF THE POLICE IN BALIKESIR AND OTHER PROVINCIAL CENTERS, WHERE AKP GOONS ARE SURGING INTO THE STREETS TO BEAT UP THOSE WHO DON’T ADORE THEIR PRIME MINISTER AS MUCH AS THEY DO.
WE SHOULD ALL HOLD THE WESTERN WORLD'S MEDIA AND POLITICIANS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THIS AS WELL, AS THEY HAVE SUPPORTED ERDOĞAN EVER SO ENTHUSIASTICALLY UNTIL RECENTLY. THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE CREATION OF THIS MONSTER HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN BRINGING ABOUT THE CURRENT UPHEAVAL IN TURKEY.
Protesters in Besiktas district tore up paving stones to build barricades, and police responded with tear gas and water cannon.
The violence was sparked by plans to build on a city park but have broadened into nationwide anti-government unrest.
Protesters say the Turkish government is becoming increasingly authoritarian.
They fear Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to impose conservative Islamic values on the officially secular country and infringe on their personal freedoms, correspondents say.
Officials say more than 1,700 people have been arrested in demonstrations in 67 towns and cities, though many have since been released.
Late on Sunday, the White House said in a statement that all parties should "calm the situation", and reaffirmed that peaceful demonstrations were "part of democratic expression".
The US previously criticised the security forces for their initial response to the protest.
Roads sealed off
Mosques, shops and a university in Besiktas were turned into makeshift hospitals for those injured in Sunday night's demonstration.
Several thousand people took part in the protest outside the recently decommissioned Besiktas football stadium.
Observers say some of the protesters were coughing violently and vomiting after police fired gas canisters into the crowd.
Nearby, police also battled to protect the prime minister's office, which became another focal point for the protesters.
They were said to have sealed off roads surrounding Mr Erdogan's office in a bid to push back protesters.
Unrest was also reported in the capital, Ankara, and the western coastal city of Izmir, as well as Adana in the south and Gaziantep in the south-east.
Police raided a shopping complex in central Ankara where they believed demonstrators were sheltering, Reuters news agency reported.
According to the Turkish Doctors' Association, 484 protesters have been treated in hospitals in Istanbul since Friday.
'A few looters'
Many of the protesters in Istanbul appear to be young and urban middle class.
Last week, the government passed legislation curbing the sale and advertising of alcoholic drinks.
Mr Erdogan says the protesters are undemocratic and have been provoked by the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
Speaking in a televised interview on Sunday, the prime minister dismissed those taking part in protests as "a few looters" and strongly criticised social media sites, singling out Twitter, which he said was "an extreme version of lying".
On Sunday, the area around Gezi Park, where the protests first erupted, was largely peaceful.
But after police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators, triggering accusations of excessive force, the numbers swelled in nearby Taksim Square.
The protests began on a small scale last week over redevelopment plans for the park to make way for the rebuilding of an Ottoman-era barracks, reportedly to house a shopping centre.
The demonstrators say the park is one of the few green spaces in Istanbul, and object to the loss of public space for commercial purposes.
To my friends who live outside of Turkey:
I am writing to let you know what is going on in Istanbul for the last five days. I personally have to write this because most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.
Four days ago a group of people most of whom did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Among them there were many of my friends and students. Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood! The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees. Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation.
They did nothing other than standing in front of the machines.
No newspaper, no television channel was there to report the protest. It was a complete media black out.
But the police arrived with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray. They chased the crowds out of the park.
In the evening the number of protesters multiplied. So did the number of police forces around the park. Meanwhile local government of Istanbul shut down all the ways leading up to Taksim square where the Gezi Park is located. The metro was shut down, ferries were cancelled, roads were blocked.
Yet more and more people made their way up to the center of the city by walking.
They came from all around Istanbul. They came from all different backgrounds, different ideologies, different religions. They all gathered to prevent the demolition of something bigger than the park:
The right to live as honorable citizens of this country.
They gathered and marched. Police chased them with pepper spray and tear gas and drove their tanks over people who offered the police food in return. Two young people were run over by the panzers and were killed. Another young woman, a friend of mine, was hit in the head by one of the incoming tear gas canisters. The police were shooting them straight into the crowd. After a three hour operation she is still in Intensive Care Unit and in very critical condition. As I write this we don’t know if she is going to make it. This blog is dedicated to her.
These people are my friends. They are my students, my relatives. They have no «hidden agenda» as the state likes to say. Their agenda is out there. It is very clear. The whole country is being sold to corporations by the government, for the construction of malls, luxury condominiums, freeways, dams and nuclear plants. The government is looking for (and creating when necessary) any excuse to attack Syria against its people’s will.
On top of all that, the government control over its people’s personal lives has become unbearable as of late. The state, under its conservative agenda passed many laws and regulations concerning abortion, cesarean birth, sale and use of alcohol and even the color of lipstick worn by the airline stewardesses.
People who are marching to the center of Istanbul are demanding their right to live freely and receive justice, protection and respect from the State. They demand to be involved in the decision-making processes about the city they live in.
What they have received instead is excessive force and enormous amounts of tear gas shot straight into their faces. Three people lost their eyes.
Yet they still march. Hundred of thousands join them. Couple of more thousand passed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to support the people of Taksim.
No newspaper or TV channel was there to report the events. They were busy with broadcasting news about Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.
Police kept chasing people and spraying them with pepper spray to an extent that stray dogs and cats were poisoned and died by it.
Schools, hospitals and even 5 star hotels around Taksim Square opened their doors to the injured. Doctors filled the classrooms and hotel rooms to provide first aid. Some police officers refused to spray innocent people with tear gas and quit their jobs. Around the square they placed jammers to prevent internet connection and 3g networks were blocked. Residents and businesses in the area provided free wireless network for the people on the streets. Restaurants offered food and water for free.
People in Ankara and İzmir gathered on the streets to support the resistance in Istanbul.
Mainstream media kept showing Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.
I am writing this letter so that you know what is going on in Istanbul. Mass media will not tell you any of this. Not in my country at least. Please post as many as articles as you see on the Internet and spread the word.
As I was posting articles that explained what is happening in Istanbul on my Facebook page last night someone asked me the following question:
«What are you hoping to gain by complaining about our country to foreigners?»
This blog is my answer to her.
By so called «complaining» about my country I am hoping to gain:
Freedom of expression and speech,
Respect for human rights,
Control over the decisions I make concerning my on my body,
The right to legally congregate in any part of the city without being considered a terrorist.
But most of all by spreading the word to you, my friends who live in other parts of the world, I am hoping to get your awareness, support and help!
Please spread the word and share this blog.
The police action was the latest violent crackdown by the government against a growing protest movement challenging plans to replace a park in Taksim Square, Istanbul’s equivalent of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, with a replica Ottoman-era army barracks that would house a shopping mall.
But while the removal of the park, which is filled with sycamore trees and is the last significant green space in the center of Istanbul, set off the protests at the beginning of the week, the gatherings have broadened into a wider expression of anger against the heavy-handed tactics and urban development plans of the government and its leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His party, now in power a decade, is increasingly viewed by many Turks as becoming authoritarian.
Mr. Erdogan still has great support among Turkey’s religious masses, but secular critics cite his government’ssweeping prosecution and intimidation of journalists as evidence of its intolerance of dissent.
Much of the anger also centers on the struggle over Istanbul’s public spaces. Mr. Erdogan’s government has proceeded with disputed urban development plans with little public input, while his police forces have increasingly used tear gas against peaceful protesters, resulting in scores of injuries, including the hospitalization on Friday of a Turkish lawmaker, a member of the Kurdish Party who had become a vocal participant in the protests, after he was hit by a tear gas canister.
The protest movement comes amid continued public anger at Turkey’s policy of supporting the rebels in Syria, which many Turks feel has led to a violent spillover inside Turkey, including recent car bombingsin the southern city of Reyhanli, which killed dozens of people. The rising public disenchantment represents a significant political challenge to Mr. Erdogan, who is planning to run for the presidency next year and has been trying to alter the Constitution to create a more powerful presidential system.
In the early afternoon Friday, as protesters gathered and began shouting antigovernment chants, police officers in riot gear began surrounding the group, positioning vehicles that resembled tanks at the edge of the square around the protesters, who were mostly sitting.
“Taksim is ours; we are not giving it to the A.K.P.!” they chanted, referring to Mr. Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P.
As they chanted, police officers casually put on their gas masks and the operators of the tanklike vehicles aimed their big guns, which fire a mixture of water and tear gas, at the group. Then chaos erupted. Protesters and onlookers, some of them tourists, ran down side streets where shopkeepers offered sliced lemons to soothe the burning sensation of the gas, and pharmacists doled out ointments for skin burns.
“The pigs, the pigs,” said Esra Yurtnac, who was crying as she sought refuge in a bakery after being gassed. “All they know is how to use gas.” She added, “They think they can silence us with force, but they won’t.”
Hours after the clashes with protesters, an Istanbul court on Friday ruled in favor of a petition by a local advocacy group and halted the project until parties submitted their legal arguments to court, the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency reported. The interior minister also pledged on Friday that claims of excessive force would be investigated.
The chaos followed a dawn raid on an Occupy Wall Street-style encampment in Gezi Park, near Taksim, in which the police also used tear gas to drive away protesters and later barricaded the park. In an earlier raid on the camp, on Thursday, the police set fire to some tents. The brief occupation of the park, which began after bulldozers had started to take down trees, had taken on a festival-like atmosphere, with yoga, barbecues and musical performances, while those gathered chanted, “Taksim is ours! Istanbul is ours!”
The people adorned the camp with banners expressing the rising anger at the reshaping of Istanbul’s urban spaces by the government. One read, “Don’t touch our neighborhood, our squares, our trees, our water, our soil, our homes, our villages, our cities and our parks.”
Another referred to Mr. Erdogan and the growing number of shopping malls being built around the city. “Let all shopping malls crumble and let Tayyip get crushed by their rubble,” the banner read.
In building new mosques and emphasizing Turkey’s Islamic past over its Byzantine and Roman legacies, Mr. Erdogan has been referred to as a latter-day Ottoman sultan, with little regard for seeking public input on the projects. On Wednesday, the government held a groundbreaking ceremony for a third bridge over the Bosporus that is being named for an Ottoman sultan.
“It’s all about superiority, and ruling over the people like sultans,” said one of the protesters, Seckin Barbaros, 26, a former journalist who is now unemployed. “When were we asked what we wanted? We have three times the amount of mosques as we do schools. Yet they are building new mosques. There are eight shopping malls in the vicinity of Taksim, yet they want to build another.”
In a speech earlier in the week, Mr. Erdogan dismissed the protesters and said the destruction of park would go ahead, “no matter what they do.”
The anger in the streets is also a rebuke to the economic policies of the government, which have relied heavily on construction and new housing in Istanbul to power economic growth. Turkey has had a resilient economy that emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis, eclipsing the performance of Europe and many other nations. But some analysts worry the government’s focus on construction projects could lead to a bubble much like the one in the United States that led to the economic collapse of 2008.
Ms. Barbaros said, “What about the day when all these shopping malls will be empty like in Greece and then they will wish they never constructed them.”
She added: “Where are the opera houses? The theaters? The culture and youth centers? What about those? They only choose what will bring them the most profit without considering what we need.”
Another demonstrator, Seyfettin Sabaz, who is training to be a dentist, said: “Many of the Turkish public think that we are here as environmentalists to save our sycamore trees. But that’s not it. We are here to stand up against those that are trying to make a profit from our land.”
Around Taksim Square, the site of several other tear gas attacks on protesters this year, including one on May Day demonstrators, the chaos is taking on a sense of the familiar to shopkeepers who are becoming accustomed to offering shelter and aid to tear gas victims.
“I own a decorations shop, but for the past year it has felt like I run a shelter for gas raid victims,” said Ali Yildrim, who has lived in Istanbul for 35 years. “Soon I’ll be keeping lemons and medicine behind my counter.” Sebnem Arsu contributed reporting from Antakya, Turkey.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: June 6, 2013
An article on Saturday about attacks by police on peaceful protesters in Istanbul misidentified the nationality of a lawmaker who took part in the protest and who was hospitalized after being hit by a tear-gas canister. The lawmaker, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, is Turkish, not Kurdish. (He is a member of the Kurdish Party.)
NEW YORK TIMES