Taksim Square Protests: As Media Reports Protests Calming Down in Instanbul, Brutal Crackdowns Hit Ankara


There is a piano with blue LED lights in Taksim Square at the moment. Various Chapulers, Erdogan's derisive nickname for the protesters that translates to marauders, have been playing tunes in the middle of the square since earlier Wednesday night.

The piano serves as a reminder that these are meant to be peaceful protests. On Monday, the governor of Istanbul, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, had assured everyone that there would be no interventions to the park until further notice. Tuesday morning, several people who had a different kind of gas mask than everyone else at the park began throwing Molotov cocktails at the police, as GSM signal booster trucks parked on the square strangely ensured that everyone had 3G.

The other strange occurrence Tuesday morning was that every single major Turkish news station that had actively refrained from covering the protests until that day happened to have camera crews on the square. It is almost as if they had simultaneously decided that something newsworthy would happen that morning, even though the Chapulers' behavior gave zero indication that they were planning on attacking the police with Molotov cocktails.

In response, the police began to use tear gas and water cannons. They also claimed that these violent actions necessitated the removal of the barricades, and a bulldozer was escorted by armoured vehicles on to the square. Many eyewitnesses report that the people throwing Molotov cocktails carried radios, and there have been countless photos of several of these "instigators" having lengthy conversations with the police later that afternoon. 

The only TV networks covering the protests, +1 and Halk TV, were fined by Turkey's Supreme Board of Radio and Television for "instigating violence and inspiring people to act violently."

Worried that the government was systematically dismantling the movement, we were relieved to discover that CNN International decided to dedicate several hours Tuesday night to a live coverage of Taksim Square. Christiane Amanpour, Erin Burnett, and Nick Paton Walsh asked the questions Turkish reporters had not and would not ask. The trio reported on Gezi Park, the state of Turkish politics, and the police violence, and Burnett and Paton Walsh wore gas masks for the better part of their live coverage.

The Istanbul governor assured people once again that they would not interfere, while the square was covered in a cloud of tear gas for the better half of the night.

The true horror came Wednesday night, however, when the eye of the world was fixed on Istanbul and the police seemed to be staying out of the square, inspiring headlines such as "Situation calming down in Turkey," even though Erdogan had stated earlier in the day that in less than 24 hours, the movement would end.

News of a clash in Ankara came around midnight in the form of desperate tweets. There was a wide scale blackout. Cell towers mysteriously stopped working and people are currently unable to make calls, send texts, tweet images, or provide coverage. They are also unable to call for help or medical assistance, which, most tweets indicate is needed.

There are pockets of connectivity, evidenced by the tweets requesting medical attention to certain locations. Other tweets that were published between 2-2:30 a.m. indicate that people have been hiding stairwells in apartment blocks when undercover police officers, disguised as protesters, pretended to seek refuge and then proceeded to assault them and take them into custody. As of 4 a.m., all tweets with #direnAnkara (which means "Ankara resist") indicate that people are still fleeing from the police, who are driving around in civilian vehicles and taking people into custody. The following is a video taken several hours ago of a man who was shot in the head with a tear gas canister.

Many people are voicing concern over Erdogan's announcement that there could be a referendum concerning the park, and have voiced mistrust in a government that has repeatedly resorted to violence against its own people and is currently attempting to mask it by cutting off all forms of communication available in the capital.