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Peaceful Protest in Ankara: Third Day Report

3 June 2013 No Comment

Hüseyin Camalan

Hüseyin Camalan
Ankara, Turkey

Dear friends around the world,

I’m writing to report to you the events regarding the protests in Ankara on the third day of the protests (June 2) and the following night.

On the second day of protests, after some fighting, protesters were able to gain the Kızılay Square, but were unable to push through to the National Assembly Building or the Prime Minister’s Office, both of which are very close, because of the intense aggression by the police. (They aimed pepper gas canisters directly on our bodies.) There was also a lot of vandalism, which we suspect was initiated by civil police to make the protesters lose support by the public. In case this doesn’t seem like a viable thought to the readers, here is a video of uniformed police officers damaging ATM machines and storefronts:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=171574866342730&set=vb.655032727845991&type=2&theater

The fierce fighting continued at night, leaving many civilians wounded by the end of the night, although the protesters were still strong. The Ankara Chamber of Physicians reported 414 wounded, 15 of which were still in critical condition due to head trauma and broken bones caused by gas canister impact (some of which impaled the bodies of the protestors), gunshot wounds to the head, and broken pelvis bones due to being run over by panzers with water cannons. One of the protesters who got a gunshot wound to the head is declared to have had brain death, according to an unofficial report. For the official statement,  [in Turkish] see:

http://ato.org.tr/#/bilgi/basin-aciklamalari/detay/296

The protests on June 2 were just as strong during the day, with people filling up the square, the avenues around it, the side streets, and the Güvenpark (a large park next to the square), protesting in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, about 4-5 meters away from the police barricade. The wind picked up quite a bit yesterday, and sometimes police fired canisters when the wind was coming towards us. Thus, even though we were not so much at the front rows, we were just as easily affected.

In order to provide immediate medical support to the wounded, many medical students and practitioners put together medical stations in stores, cafes, and offices. In addition, the Ankara Bar Association provided crisis desks to accumulate evidence for disproportionate police aggression and to protect the people taken into custody.

The fighting kept going on similarly until 19.00 (7 pm), with protesters firing fireworks towards police barricades and police firing canisters into the crowd. After that, police started to fire gas canisters from roofs of the buildings and overpasses. Here is a photo of the Kızılay Square  area from these moments:

http://www.sendika.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/ankara2haziran27.jpg

Around this time I had already left the protests, but fierce fighting continued. From now on I’ll be compiling the accounts of my friends and the reliable information I have found on the internet (usually supported by evidence).

Police apparently started to play really dirty to get the square back by this time. One black private vehicle drove fast towards the crowd, and rammed into protestors at about 100 kilometers per hour. The fate of the victim(s) is (are) unknown. The license plate of this vehicle is known, but we don’t know if this vehicle was by any means affiliated to the police. Here is a photo and video of this incident:

http://sphotos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/971096_487877534626060_814270681_n.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFzmdXhuDo8

Police then proceeded to fire immense amounts of gas into the crowds, plastic bullets, and sound bombs. They also engaged in close combat with protesters, attacking the people on their way. Here is the cloud of pepper gas that can be seen from tens of kilometers away from the epicenter of the conflict:

https://twitter.com/RobinSderberg/status/340811088687931394/photo/1

Protesters in Meşrutiyet Caddesi, an avenue about 150 meters away from Kızılay Square, kept their resistance until 10pm. They took care of the gas by immediately placing gas canisters into water containers:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152870243035594&set=vb.810395593&type=2&theater

Some accounts indicate that after 10 pm, protestors wanted to take some rest, which is when police pushed further. I don’t know much about the incidents around that time, but I did hear people being pushed further down south into the Kavaklıdere/Çankaya districts. Eventually, after the streets were mostly cleared, police started going into cafes and beating people whom they suspected to support the protests. In addition, they fired gas canisters into private offices and households they suspected to be involved. The following video shows evidence of riot police firing gas canisters from windows, although I’m not sure if this is from Ankara:

http://s1.directupload.net/images/130603/ltoyuelt.swf

Not only did police attack private property of citizens, but also they arrested doctors and medical students they found on the streets immediately. The worst thing is that they gassed every single medical room filled with wounded people and medics.

Even the help desk opened by the Bar Association of Ankara was attacked by police, and the lawyers had to rush out of the building.

It took us a bit too long to realize that the police were doing two things: following the feed on twitter to find out where the medical rooms are, and giving bait information about the location of medical rooms for the wounded. When people would come to these locations, they would immediately get gassed, attacked by police officers, and arrested. The wounded would also be beaten and be denied medical care.

Here are multiple official statements by Ankara Chamber of Physicians and Turkish Association of Physicians [in Turkish]:

http://www.ttb.org.tr/index.php/Haberler/gozalti-3835.html

http://ato.org.tr/#/haberler/detay/174

Police violence in Kızılay was too hardcore for many of us, and I think this is why reinforcements didn’t arrive as much as they should have. I and my friend had been considering going there again, but we were genuinely worried about our own lives. We did, however, join a minor group in the Bahçelievler district about 30 minutes from the Kızılay Square, and ended up collecting hundreds of people on 7th Street (7. Cadde). After that, we started walking towards Kızılay Square and merged up with another group, which made us over 2,000 people according to our estimations. However, we turned back at some point – I don’t know the reason as of now. The crowd roamed around the Bahçelievler district, and started walking towards Kızılay again, but we left them again soon thereafter.

It seems that many thousands of people in other districts in Ankara were also walking, and some ended up passing by the Ankara Police Headquarters, where they were attacked and arrested. 200 volunteering lawyers waited in front of the entrance of the headquarters because they were not allowed into the building. Apparently those that were arrested (by one account, 560) were held in a gym:

http://www.sendika.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/ankara-spor-salonu.jpg

A photo of the lawyers being held outside the Ankara Police Headquarters:

http://www.sendika.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/emniyet-onu.jpg

As far as I’m concerned, the general situation was as follows yesterday night:

1. Protests continued on a large scale in many neighborhoods, and police did not have manpower to control these districts. Instead, they focused mostly on controlling the Kızılay Square. Yet again, clashes happened in the side streets around Kızılay

2. Police were extensively using intelligence from civil police and from twitter to bait or capture protesters.

3. Police force was again brutal and unconstitutional: private property was attacked and damaged, medical personnel and volunteers as well as lawyers were specifically targeted, and violence was immense. In addition, detainees were stripped of their legal rights and lawyers were not permitted into the building.

Protests are still continuing today in Kızılay, with high school students, university academicians and university students, as well as union workers going on strike. Please keep giving support to the peaceful and democratic cause of the Turkish people by sharing this note and other reliable sources you find.

***

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