Police in Turkey fire pepper spray at the “Woman in the Red Dress,” Ceyda Sungur
“DEMOCRACY IS A TRAM YOU RIDE AS FAR AS YOU WANT TO AND THEN GET OFF”
[Note by Tom Gross]
Today has seen another round of vicious assaults by Turkish security forces on mostly peaceful demonstrators in central Istanbul. It has been a rough day and it looks like it will be a long night in the Turkish capital.
While Turkey’s increasingly Islamist and dictatorial Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has called the protestors “looters,” “pillagers,” “layabouts” and “hooligans,” they are in fact for the most part middle class pro-Western professional people – secular liberals, feminists, and environmental and gay activists.
Many protestors today have sustained serious head injuries, and at least 70 lawyers defending arrested protesters have themselves been arrested.
The protests are now spreading. Even supporters of Istanbul’s three big rival soccer clubs (Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray) have now united, each wearing their teams colors, to join anti-government protests.
Another group participating in the demonstrations is the country’s Alevi minority, that make up about 15 percent of Turkey’s population. Many are furious at Erdogan’s plans to build a new bridge over the Bosphorus that will be named Yavuz Sultan Suleiman Bridge, after the Ottoman sultan, “Selim the Grim,” historically known for his mass slaughter of Alevis.
Unlike, say Vladimir Putin, who some say is a mere autocrat, some commentators such as Peter Hitchens, fear Erdogan is far more worrying. As Hitchens points out “Erdogan is also a cunning and subtle Islamic fanatic, who knows he will get further if he pretends to be moderate, and in an unguarded moment said that democracy is ‘a tram you ride as far as you want to and then get off’.”
Below, I attach several videos from what (in the aftermath of the so-called “Arab spring”) is being dubbed by some the “Turkish summer”.
I have excluded other videos because I feel they are too bloody to post.
A demonstrator clashes with riot police in Istanbul's Gazi neighborhood on the evening of June 8
Among other recent dispatches on Turkey:
THE MUSIC VIDEOS SPURRING ON THE PRO-WESTERN DEMONSTRATORS
In the first two videos below, anti-government supporters have added music to the clips of the protests. These videos have been watched by millions of Turks on the internet, even though Turkish TV has tried to censor them.
HOW THE TURKISH MEDIA ARE CENSORING WHAT IS HAPPENING
THE MOSQUES THAT HAVE BECOME FIRST-AID SHELTERS
Erdogan has tried to rally his base by alleging that these “hooligans” were “drinking in mosques.” In fact the mainly secular protestors have sought refuge in mosques, such as the one in this video that has become a first aid center:
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Other dispatches in this video series can be seen here: