I’m fucking knackered and also 500 kilometers away in Ankara due to some ill-timed journalisticky travels, but this is a pretty important moment so here’s a roundup on the latest reports from Gezi Park:
Tonight, police seized and cleared Gezi Park in one of the most brutal police actions of the continued protest. Widespread reports mention young children and elderly gassed in Gezi Park and in the nearby Divan Hotel, which was used as a sanctuary for protesters fleeing police. Video and photos show police gassing the interior of the building.
There were numerous injuries. The governor of Istanbul has minimized this number, and also said provocateurs used weapons on police, injuring 2. Turkish EU Minister Egemen Bağış has said any gathering in Gezi are to be treated as terrorists. Protesters have vowed to bring millions to Taksim tomorrow in protest.
This comes at a very important time for the ruling AKP and the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The PM’s rhetoric escalated further tonight at the AKP rally — read this report for an example, I’m too tired to summarize it. Either way, his threat to protesters tonight, coupled with his scheduled pro-government rally in Istanbul tomorrow, and the follow-through on that threat with brutal police action, all indicates an unquestionably and increasingly authoritarian style.
In Ankara, thousands were brought on municipal buses commandeered for the purpose to fill a park in Sincan, an economically depressed suburb on the outskirts of Ankara. The mood in the park was mostly lukewarm, mostly families, with many leaving before the speech was over. Partisan networks put the number of participants in the millions; this is a gross exaggeration.
Sympathy protests in Ankara were met by police and given warnings, though clashes seemed unlikely as of 2 A.M.
The response to these police actions in Gezi, the ability of police to hold the park and square from counter-protests, and the continuing revelations about instances of disproportionate force will be very important for the opposition in the coming days. For AKP supporters, many will be watching pro-government channels tomorrow, which will undoubtedly eschew any coverage of Taksim, no matter how sizeable the protest, for coverage of the AKP rally — sure to draw thousands, even if they are bused in from as far as Izmir.