My good friends Jessica, Jay, and Jared, two college professors and an IT guy, all just left on a vacation to Turkey and basically stepped off the plain into the heart of really intense protests that started over plans to cut down long cherished old trees to build a mall. I’ve been watching them post about it for the past days and it has been both terrifying and inspiring. Police violence broke out yesterday and people were killed, my friends were tear gassed, the city is erupting, the government is trying to black out the media, shutting down servers among other things, so my friends have been stuggling for connectivity to keep posting. It’s crazy. I’m going to post a bunch of their stuff here.
Peaceful Protest Over Istanbul Park Turns Violent as Police Crack Down (The New York Times)
After being given gas masks by some new friends:
A note that was handed to them last night when they were eating dinner and someone saw that they were Americans posting to social media on iPhones:
People running from tear gas:
Video: May 31, 2013, 4:34pm on balcony, from Teşvikiye, Istanbul. City erupting. Pots and pans.
One of Jared’s facebook status updates from yesterday:
“I’m fine. Why do I say this? it is because I am currently vacationing in a city in the midst of incredible protests. I find it so odd, through no fault of any of my friends, that no one knows what is happening here. After 4 hours of extraneous pressurized water, endless tear gas canisters, and moments where my eyes would not open and my lungs could barely breathe, I find the whole ordeal barely mentioned on american news sites. When tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma, I could barely keep up on the endless, and very kind, messages making sure I was OK. However, not a single peep from anyone about this. Obviously, this is due to American media poorly covering such a significant story, and the Turkish government doing a good job of keeping this thing under wraps. Well, I want this in the open. I want this message spread. In the very short time that i have been here, I have found the Turkish people to be kind, considerate and generous. They have a common message, and I think it is the truth: a few theistic politicians and rich businessmen will not determine how our lives are run.
This video I posted was taken by me earlier this evening. This is actually one of the most mild sequences that I witnessed. there were numerous times that I was unable to record due to an endless onslaught of tear gas and water. From some videos, it appears that the protesters are the aggressors. Really, nothing could be further from the truth. these people only took to the streets after incredibly violent actions by the government on peaceful, lawful protesters (think Occupy NY with a far more concise and concrete vision). I have never seen such passion for a belief, and such unbridled aggression from a government. True, there were a few dickbags just trying to throw shit. I grant you that. But that is such a small part of what this was. and unlike American protests that turn violent, these people did no looting, no pillaging, no raping, and NO destruction of private property.
My friend, Jessica, posted a video of peaceful protests of the Turkish people banging pots in the streets and from their windows. This was in a neighborhood, mind you, not some public square. Shortly after that was taken, the police shot tear gas at our heads from the top of the street. Later they started firing aimlessly down our street from out of view.”
*This particular video is not public, but is from last night and is of hundreds of people running through the streets.