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Protests in Turkey Answered by Police Crackdown


Peaceful protests in Turkey end up in calls of police brutality.

Peaceful protests in Turkey end up in calls of police brutality.

PROTESTS in Turkey over what’s being called privatization of one of the last remaining parks in Istanbul got serious when police began using what is being reported as extreme force to disperse the protesters.

It was followed by calls for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to step down, which is utterly absurd to me. Juan Cole breaks that demand down perfectly, which begins with what Erdogan has done for the country since fairly elected.

The government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was last elected in June, 2011, at which time his Justice and Development Party (AKP) received about half the votes in the country (an improvement on past performances). The elections appear to be on the up and up, and AK seems genuinely popular in the countryside and in many urban districts. The economy has grown enormously in the past decade under Erdogan’s rule, Turkey is now the world’s 17th largest economy (by nominal gdp) according to the IMF. It has been averaging 5 percent growth per year at a time when neighbors in the EU like Greece and Spain are basket cases. It has a huge tourism sector that has benefited from the troubles in Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon. The economy will likely only grow 3% this year, but that is still a good number given Europe’s doldrums.

However, Erdogan is still responsible for horrible media policies and has made Turkey what’s been called the “worlds biggest prison” for journalists. It’s being reported that there’s a news black out of the protests, which just emphasizes the obsessive, overbearing control the government has over the media.

Amnesty International is calling for an investigation into the police brutality against the peaceful protesters.

Amnesty International activists who were observing the protest were also hit with truncheons and tear gassed.

“The use of violence by police on this scale appears designed to deny the right to peaceful protest altogether and to discourage others from taking part” said John Dalhuisen, Director of Europe and Central Asia Programme at Amnesty International.

“The use of tear gas against peaceful protestors and in confined spaces where it may constitute a serious danger to health is unacceptable, breaches international human rights standards and must be stopped immediately.”

“The Turkish authorities must order police to halt any excessive use of force and urgently investigate all reports of abuse. They have a duty to ensure that people can exercise their right to free expression and assembly.”

As the day wore on, it became evident that Erdogan had made a catastrophic miscalculation.

Sending in the police to use the massive force against the protesters had not only backfired badly, but validated the calls against Erdogan that got louder and louder throughout the day and emboldened the crowds, who knew Erdogan had gone too far.

Social media chronicled the escalation of the protesters, as well as the backing off of the government, the day ending quite differently than it had begun, the momentum shifting to the people.

From the New York Times:

The Interior Ministry said it had arrested 939 people at demonstrations across the country, and that 79 people were wounded, a number that was probably low. After Friday’s protests, which were smaller and less violent than those on Saturday, a Turkish doctors’ group reported nearly 1,000 injuries.

[...] Many of the protesters, some of whom voted for Mr. Erdogan, said his leadership had become increasingly dictatorial. In a Twitter message late Saturday, Mr. Erdogan appeared to mock the protesters, saying he could mobilize a million people to support him in Taksim Square, while putting the number of protesters at 100,000.

“When he first came to power, he was a good persuader and a good speaker,” said Serder Cilik, 32, who was sitting at a tea shop watching the chaos unfold. Mr. Cilik said he had voted for Mr. Erdogan but would never do so again.

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11 Responses to Protests in Turkey Answered by Police Crackdown

  1. fangio June 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    He is an authoritarian and dictator who wants total control and has no use for democracy, much like all good Islamists who have come before him. Turkey worked in the past because it had a separation of church, religion and state. Erdogan and his people are very slowly working to change all that. As he grabs more and more power and denies others any power, Turkey will slowly fade into a polarized, dysfunctional and violent society.

  2. Joyce Arnold June 1, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    CNN, among others, is reporting the use of agent orange.

    • fangio June 1, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

      It’s good to see that the Islamist’s have learned something useful from the American devil.

    • secularhumanizinevoluter June 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      AGENT ORANGE?!!!! Since when has Agent Orange been a crowd control substance. Works great as a defoliant if you want to get rid of canopy cover but a crowd control agent?!!!! What…are they trying to control FUTURE protests by causing birth defects in future protesters?

      • Cujo359 June 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

        That one didn’t make sense to me, either. Why would Turkey even have the stuff? I don’t think they have a big problem with out-of-control plant growth.

  3. Cujo359 June 1, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    “It was followed by calls for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to step down, which is utterly absurd to me.”

    While I agree that this probably won’t happen, I don’t see why it’s absurd. Perhaps this is just applying a Western ideal about government where it doesn’t belong, but failing to live up to the obligations of office should be grounds for removal, no matter how profitable some portions of the population may have found his rule.

    I’ll also note that we’ve seen GDP growth beyond population growth here in America until recently, but in the last thirty years nearly all of that benefit has gone to a small fraction of the population. The political formula of helping the rich get richer and appealing to the prejudices of the rest of population has worked pretty well in America. I don’t see why it couldn’t be successful elsewhere.

  4. TPAZ June 2, 2013 at 1:14 am #

    They hate us for our exploitative capitalism (and for trying to impose it on their indigenous culture. If they don’t want McDonalds, GMO corn, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, KFC, and other cash-extraction business model transnational corporations irreverseably changing, but not improving living conditions, it’s their call to make.

  5. AliBenAdmin June 2, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    Still remain unclear the real numbers of injured and arrested during the more than 90 demonstrations that took place yesterday in dozens of cities in Turkey.Amnesty International said following reports of more than 1,000 injuries and at least two deaths of protesters in Istanbul.

  6. fairmindedindependent June 2, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

    Turkey was the most stable Arab/Muslim country because of its secular independence. Turkeys Prime Minister better watch because the Turkish military has intervened in the past. The military is secular at least it was, so if they still are, I am sure they are not liking what they see in the abuse of power of Turkeys Prime Minister. I can’t believe they are using chemical components like agent orange against protesters. Turkey is a NATO country, I am sure they should look into this as well as the UN, but more than likely they won’t and will brush it aside. The only reason why Turkey is doing so well in their economy is because people know it as a secular and democratic country, but if keeps up with this abuse of power, then companies are going to leave and tourism will drop,if people know there is instability in the country.

    • mjsmith June 3, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      It looks like Turkey is interested in promoting Sunni vs Shiite conflict and replacing secular governments with islamic fundamentalist dictatorships.

  7. mjsmith June 3, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    I wonder if the State Department is going to call for Erdogan to step down. This jerk Erdogan has been supporting al quaeda in Syria for over two years now. He thinks that his supporting these terrorists inside Syria will remove Assad from power. It looks like Bashar Assad will ramain in power long after Erdogan is gone.

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