I’ve posted photos from Taksim’s Gezi Park yesterday in an article on Classless Magazine. The full article and photos can be found here.
Now that it’s around 2 o’clock here, the protests will be picking up again as people meet in Taksim and Besiktas. It doesn’t look like they’ve closed the metro yet, but it’s possible that if they choose to gas protesters in Besiktas this afternoon, and not wait until night, the wind may carry it into the metro system, and they’ll need to shut it down.
In other news, I’m on the lookout for football ultras attending the protests. Istanbul’s three big clubs, whose ultras are known for their violence against each other, have united in support of the protests. Football fan clubs, like the Ultras in Egypt and Turkey, are among the first to big protests in the Middle East, using their considerable organizational skills and their extensive experience in clashing with police to help escalate protests and make an unfair fight against police a little more even.
Even though their arrival coincided with the police decision to withdraw, they’ve been blamed for some of the more extensive damage in Taksim, Besiktas, and Istiklal. Sometimes they get a little out of hand, as when they stole a construction vehicle to drive at police anti-riot tanks.
If you’re interested in Ultras and their effect on Middle Eastern politics, Your Middle East has a special feature on football in the Middle East.
In other news:
- Taksim Solidarity, a group (dubiously) claiming to speak on behalf of the larger protest movement, has released a list of outlandish demands, including the resignation of public officials, the release of detained protesters, and the banning of tear gas. Importantly, they still demand that nothing be built in Gezi Park, cultural centre, mosque, or mall.
- The deputy PM, Bülent Arınç, seems to be departing with PM Erdogan’s official line of stubborn resistance to protest demands following his meeting with President Abdullah Gül, who also indirectly criticized Erdogan’s stance and police brutality. Arınç offered an apology to protesters injured by police and even called the initial protest “legitimate and patriotic”, though he did add that the government did not feel like they “owed anything to those who cause harm.”
- In case you forgot the Kurdish issue, there have been reports of fire on Turkish military positions on the Turkey-Iraq border, where PKK militants are withdrawing. This could possibly jeopardize the ceasefire, though with all the drama over the protests, I imagine the Kurdish withdrawal is at the back of the government’s mind, if not the army’s.
- Iraqi Kurds, possibly bosltered by the return of militants from Turkey, are renegotiating their relationship to Iraq’s central government, which could result in conflict, though from what I’ve been reading Iraqi Kurdistan is in much better shape than the rest of Iraq.