Turkish Americans and other supporters gathered today at the Occupy Gezi Park event to protest the unexpected police brutality occuring in Istanbul this week. The group met today at University Ave. and Emerson Street in Palo Alto in a show of solidarity towards the actions taking in place in Turkey as dar four of the riots in Turkey continues.
The riots in Turkey began during a peace sit-in on Friday where local citizens banned together to oppose the replacement of a green park space with a shopping mall in Taksim Square. Police responded harshly with endless rounds of tear gas just before dawn and deployed water cannons to contain the crowds. The peace sit-in became one of the largest anti-government movements Turkey has experienced in years.
The violence has pitted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against President Abdullah Gul, and Erdogan has refused protestor demands for his resignation over the brutality. According to the Turkish Doctor's Association one man has been killed by a vehicle during the riots and 8 others are in critical condition in Ankara.
Critics have said that Prime Minister Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian attitude has caused him to push his strict, conservative Islamic beliefs on secular Turks. The United States has come forward this week to encourage peaceful handling of protests in Turkey.
"The United States supports full freedom of expression and assembly, including the right of people to peaceful protest, because that is fundamental to any democracy" stated Secretary of State John Kerry who has traveled to Turkey several times as a diplomat.
Today Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of Turkey's secular Republican People's Party discussed the riots with President Gul. "The Prime Minister should apologize to protesters," Kilicdaroglu said. "We hope that once he does that the incident will be over completely."
Turkish media stations are being criticized for providing only limited coverage of the protests, and as a result social media channels have been flooded with grim photos and videos of police brutality. Over 1,000 protesters have suffered "ill treatment and torture" at the hands of the police according to Turkey's Human Rights Foundation. Local news agencies have reported that 500 protesters have been detained in Ankara and another 300 are being held in Izmir.
Despite the continuing violence in Istanbul, local groups in the Bay Area are committed to spreading the word and are optimistic about the outcome of this disturbance.
Feeling physically disastrous after sleeping outside 2 nights while sick, but emotionally inspired by the revolution I see happening.— Carrie M (@CarrieM213) June 4, 2013
Today I was so proud of being a Turk #occupygezisf— nazlican turkmen (@TurkmenNazlican) June 2, 2013
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