Taksim Square and an Emerging Dictator in Istanbul!


Security forces have cleared Taksim Square in Istanbul Saturday.  Brutal methods have forced protestors outside the area.  Prime Minister Erdogan is proving that the events of Taksim Square are all about an emerging dictatorship.

“Everyone who enters Istanbul’s Taksim Square,” the heart of nearly 20-day-long protests against the government, “will be considered a terrorist,” Turkey’s European Union minister said in a televised interview today.

“The police will intervene against everybody who try to enter Taksim Square, treating them as a terrorist,” Egemen Bağış said hours after the police’s ferocious intervention against protesters in Istanbul.

Bağış has been criticising the foreign media for exaggerating the protests in Turkey.

The Turkish police cleared Taksim Square today with a horrendous tear gas attack.

The protestors were ready to leave Gezi park and Taksim Square when Erdogan said he was placing a moratorium on the redevelopment of the park.  Hundreds of black-clad riot police wearing gas masks started to rush the park, using tear gas and water cannons to chase protesters from the area. Remaining was a mess of soggy tents, banners and debris that sanitation workers quickly moved to clear. The park had turned into a symbol of defiance against Erdogan, who wants to build a replica of an Ottoman-era barracks on the site.

This weekend, Erdogan addressed a group of 10,000 supporters in the capital of Ankara:  “This state is not your plaything. It is not. I am sorry.” He aimed his message at his opponents in Istanbul, the nation’s largest city: “If it is not emptied, from now on, this country’s security forces will know how to empty that place.”

Erdogan clearly wants to establish a totalitarian regime.  A classic example of how power corrupts is now the hated leader of the Turkish people.

Just moments later, at about 8 p.m. local time, police loudspeakers in Taksim Square began issuing warnings for protesters to leave Gezi: “Please vacate the park, or increasing force will be used.” The park and square in one of the more affluent sections of the booming city had appeared to return to a more normal state in recent days after the government agreed to hold off on its development plans until a court ruling on them, and to allow for a city-wide referendum if the plan was found legal before proceeding. So the Park and Square were filled not only with protesters, but tourists and families milling about, shopping, eating at pricy restaurants and taking in the scene, unsure what to make of the warnings. Earlier in the day, city workers had been painting over the remaining graffiti left by the protesters. Even after the loudspeakers’ warnings, a mood of waiting prevailed for about 30 more minutes. Erdogan has issued such ultimatums in the past, only to change course.

The crowd-control vehicles started revving up and the police began preparing to move forward.

Protesters massed at the entrance of the park and chanted: “Everyone is Taksim. Everyone is resistance.” At the front entrance of the park, protesters formed a human chain as a man with a gas mask atop his head walked up and down their line, warning them to do nothing to provoke the heavily-geared police, who minutes later began moving steadily forward.

Once again tear gas and water cannons attacked ordinary citizens.

One 22-year-old university student, who was afraid to give his name, said he and his friends had been in their tents when the raid commenced. “We opened the tents and we saw the cops immediately,” he said. “The prime minister said we had 24 hours to evacuate the park, but an hour later he did it. There were little kids and old people there.” The park had been full of families and children earlier on Saturday, with activists hosting children’s events such as painting workshops.

Ergogan has become a dictator, and Taksim Square may be the beginning of his end.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express


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