Voilent police interventions attempted to suppress the demonstrations that started in Gezi Park and spread over the whole country. Despite the threat by the government saying “If the park is not evacuated, what is required will be done”, the citizens did not give up their struggle and did not leave the park.
The police intervention to evacuate the park on Saturday, June 15th was as violent as the ones on May 31th, June 1st, and June 11th. These interventions to keep people out of Gezi Park and Taksim Square continued on Sunday, June 16th. Many people were injured due to the excessive use of pepper gas and rubber bullets and 4 people lost their lives.
‘They beat to death whoever they caught’
Uğur Yıldırım is one of the injured people during these interventions. He is 26 years old. On Sunday around Osmanbey, a pepper gas cartridge fired by the police hit his eye. Ugur said, “That first moment when the capsule hit my eye, I thought my whole eyeball was out. It felt like my eye just came out of its socket”. He stated that he remembered someone in Ankara who lost his eye after a pepper gas capsule hit it, and he thought the same thing happened to him.
“There was a huge intervention. A lot of people were injured”, he continued. He said the police was about to catch him when he was hit by a club. “The police was shouting amongst each other, saying ‘Catch them, kill them, zap them’. They would definitely smash me hard if they could catch. Because the police were deadly beating people when caught. ”
When he was able to escape, he blended in with the crowd but the police did not let him off the sight. He tells wryly that as he saw that he was being targeted from behind and the capsule hit his face. He added,“If I was not wearing glasses, it would have been worse.”
When he got injured, he was taken to an internet cafe which was turned into an infirmary. He was mostly unconscious when he was being carried by others in the area. When he woke up, his nose had already been tamponed. Later, he was taken to Okmeydani Education and Research Hospital by a cab.
‘There was an extreme indifference at the Hospital’
Uğur had his aunt Gulizar and his friend Canan as attendants in the hospital. His aunt, telling the story of what the family went through that day, expressed her ongoing concern. Ugur had given his elder sister’s phone number to his friends as he was being taken to the hospital. They first reached to his sister who informed other family members. Initially, they told Ugur’s mother that he had minor injuries, but as they approach the hospital, they explained her the true extend of his injuries. “Ugur’s mom started crying, screaming as soon as she saw him” said Gulizar. Ugur’s broken nose and his eye was operated, but his eye needs to be operated again so that he does not lose his sight. Gulizar said that the doctors were waiting for the blood in his eye to drain before the next operation. She added, “I feel like it is getting late. I would consider maybe going to other hospitals, but Ugur does not have any insurance for that.”
I asked Canan what happened at the hospital. She said “Because it was a Sunday there was only one doctor at each department. I don’t know why, but there was an extreme indifference. We carried him with the stretcher ourselves. The bandages were soaked in blood, but nobody came to look at him for a long time.” According to Canan’s remarks, a brain surgeon arrived after a while and sent them for tomography. When Ugur’s family arrived, they first could not comprehend the situation. The doctor explained some of the possibile complications to Ugur’s father. Canan emphasized, “Naturally, they [Ugur's parents] were angry and upset”.
Ugur smiled and said “You should have seen this room yesterday, it was full of injured people.” His friends, one of whom was injured on the leg by a rubber bullet came to visit. Another friend injured by a gas capsule on the arm also came. Ugur says: “I feel lucky, as they were trying to kill people. Yes, I was aware of what could have happened there, but I took some risks. On the other hand, I feel blessed that I did not fall into their hands.”
‘At first, he was having nightmares’
Gülizar, started to talk about what Ugur had been going through and how he would wake up screaming at night. She said: “He has nightmares and wakes up half-conscious grabbing the bandages on his eye, trying to rip them off. When he first wakes up, he still asks where he is.” She thinks that Ugur should get psychological support during his recovery. Ugur’s friend, Canan, stated that injured people appeal to Human Rights Foundation. They tell their stories and give details about time and place. Moreover, they document their injuries with photos. She added: “When Ugur is discharged from the hospital, we will also file a criminal complaint. All the evidence will be collected and sent to European Court of Human Rights. There are hundreds of injured people. It will be very useful if we all file complaints and document our injuries”.
Will the heavy weapons be used against the citizens?
Orhan Düzgün, a member of the parliament from CHP (Republican People’s Party), states that the Gun Legislation Draft gives the right to the police to buy heavy weapons. He asked the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “Will these heavy weapons be used against the citizens like anti-riot vehicles?” Duzgun submitted his parliamentary question to the speaker’s office with an answer request from the PM. He elucidates: “In the draft legislation that is now under Internal Affairs commission, the right and authority to buy heavy assault weapons is given to the police forces. If one considers the terms of reference for the police, the police are a constituted body of persons, who fight against crimes and criminals for the safety and peace of their citizens. Given that the police interacts with citizens, will these prospective heavy weapons -including cannons, tanks and mortars- be used against peaceful citizens? We witnessed use of anti-riot vehicles against peaceful protesters at Gezi Park. In the statement you [PM] made about the Gezi Park, you said, “We are going to increase the power of the police to intervene.” Did PM mean that you will use these heavy assault weapons against protestors at Gezi Park? ”
21 June 2013
This post is also available in: Turkish