I would like to tell you about the incidents myself as the main protagonist of the videos showing the “Dolmabahçe Polis Violence” recorded on the 2nd of June 2013 at night in Dolmabahçe and broadcast on youtube. I am the person that the police tried to lynch in those images after the Billboard Resistance. Those of you who are only interested in the action itself can read the Moment of the Incident section. (By the way, if you have any images concerning that night, I’d appreciate that you send them via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
The video showing the lynching (the video was removed from the youtube after it was watched by 700.000 people. Now there is another link to it):
The video showing the first aid efforts at the Dolmabahçe Infirmary:
The video showing how the police fired at us while we were trying to save the injured protesters in the middle of the street:
The video showing a TOMA water cannon’s attempts to take down the Billboard (First video shows the incident until 12:50 A.M., and the second starts at 1:20 A.M.:
In the video showing the lynching you see only my jersey shorts, converse sneakers and bag. I enclose here the photos of them because there are still some people who claim that the video was recorded in another country and at another time:
I am going to recount my experience in four sections: “Who am I?”, “Why I was the last person down there?”, “the Moment of the Incident”, and “My Personal Opinions about these events”. I would like to apologize in advance if the text contains any slips of the tongue due to the fact that I had a brain trauma two days ago and that there are 40 stiches all over my body because about 30 policemen hit me for two minutes.
Who is this marginal chappuler?
It may be difficult to believe but contrary to all allegations I am not a member of any illegal organization neither a fanatical supporter of a political party or a professional provocateur. On the contrary, the Gezi protest was the first social movement that I participated in my 24-year life. As I am sure that the Police Department will soon realize through their investigations this is my first criminal report. As you can see in these videos, I haven’t damaged any public property or attacked any policemen. I was there with my basketball shorts and t-shirt ; that it to say, my only aim was to run fast and help people by catching the tear gas bomb canisters and throw them as far away as possible.
As a kid with a lower class background and Turkish origin who was grown up in poverty, the Gezi protest is the first social movement that I wholeheartedly believe in its legitimacy. I think that the only leader behind this movement is the “people”. Forasmuch as I define myself as a “man of letters”, as a graduate of English Language Literature, I spend 90 % of my time by reading, writing and doing editorial tasks or by taking care of my cat, feeding animals in my neighborhood and listening to outmoded classical music like Marin Marais while I study and heavy metal while I work out at basketball trainings. I am a quiet and boring man; even I cannot stand myself sometimes. Let alone participating in mass social movements, I normally get away from any environment where there are more than 7 or 8 people…
On why and how I was the last person down there…
As I did my M.A. in political sciences in Florence and I read a lot about social events as a hobby, I have adequate intellectual and theoretical tools to analyse social events. However, I prefer not to use any social science terminology and explain the reasons behind this current situation in a simple way in three steps: Privatization of the few public spaces that are left; the fact that a deputy of this country, Sırrı Süreyya Önder was shot by tear gas bomb canister, although I don’t fully agree with the opinions of this deputy; Recep Tayyib Erdogan’s declarations during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Third Bridge over the Bosphorus, saying that, “Whatever you do, we have decided and we’ll stick by our decision.” In other words, these tree steps are Rent, Attempting to Kill and Injure the People and Dictatorship.
I participated to the protests on the 31st of May at about 8 P.M. in Taksim. It was my first time in a protest and I was utterly a “rookie”; so, I watched what’s happening from back rows. I shouted one or two slogans and lost my “virginity” by inhaling tear gas. As someone who was involved only in theoretical works up until that time, I noted my own observations and analyses. Then I got back home; I was still an abstainer… The following day, the 1st June, I learnt that the court cancelled the demolition of the Gezi Park until the Ministry of Culture would have presented their case. I also learnt that the police retreated from Taksim. I went back to Taksim and shared people’s joy and was happy that the park was safe for the time being. When I got the news about the police crackdown in Beşiktaş I grabbed my video recorder and ran over there. I was shocked by what I saw. It looked like we were in a civil war or Stalingrad and Berlin operations : There were barricades, overturned and burnt-out cars and thousands of protesters. I witnessed in one and the same day both the brutal police crackdown and vandalism of some people (like blowing street lamps). Of course, I heard beforehand stories about police brutality but it was the first time that I was seeing with my own eyes how the police fired tear gas bombs directly at the protestors deliberately to kill or to cripple them, how the police blew people’s heads or gouged out their eyes. I was only taking photographs but the police’s violent crackdown enraged me. The police were raiding against their own people as if they were enemies. The police were aiming at actually cracking down people who did not do anything that could endanger the police, who didn’t use anything like Molotov cocktail that could result in casualties. I observed the incidents up until late in the morning, video recording whatever I saw and talking with people. When I finally got back home it was 4 A.M.
The Moment of the Incident:
It was the 2nd June. I couldn’t wink my eye because the rage I harbored in my bosom. At about noon I went out to equip myself in order to protect the people from the police whose duty was protect the people. I bought several gas masks, a pair of thick gloves to throw the tear gas bombs away and plenty of first aid medication. All my equipment with me, I reached Beşiktaş in the early evening. On the Kadıköy boat crossing the Bosphorus I talked with an old lady who said, “I have lived all my life in Taksim, my son. The Gezi Park has an important place in our lives; so, I’d like to thank you for trying to save it.” When I got Dolmabahçe the confrontation was about to start. In the vicinity of the Clock Tower there were ten thousand people clashing with the police forces that were blocking the streets. I passed to front rows because this time I was prepared. Thanks to my gas mask I could move forward to the first line and thanks to my gloves I could remove gas bombs away from the protestors. I distributed some medication to ease the effect of the tear gas as much as I could because even a 60-year-old man whose eyes were swollen from the gas and leg was hit by a rubber bullet was risking his life in the “front line” just to shout at the police, “You are barbarians! You are murderers!” This lasted for two hours. And then, about 15 protestors dismounted a giant billboard in order to prevent an outright massacre by creating a screen against the shower of hundreds of rubber bullets and tear gas canisters fired by the police directly at people…
One of the protestors behind the billboard yelled, “Anyone with able bodies and gas masks should come over here! We’re going to protect people!” I am 1.87 cm tall. Because I work out regularly I was quite fit physically. And I had an efficient gas mask. So, I was in quite a good shape for this task. Construsting a shield out of the billboard sounded like a good idea while there were so many people around me who were shot by the rubber bullets and falling down with heart rendering screams. So, I passed behind the billboard. Because the other protestors holding the billboard with me were mostly the well-set members of the Çarşı group we were like a Spartan Phalanx regiment. We carried and fixed the billboard between the police and the TOMA water cannons. The police was infuriated and started to bombard the billboard with rubber bullets. However, the billboard was surprisingly solid and the bullets were just bouncing back. At that moment, the protestors ran and helped the wounded. Those ten thousand people were rejoicing now. However, this was enraging the police and the TOMA water cannon started to fire intensely. As if we planned it beforehand, we immediately hid our right legs under the billboard. The police just got mad. They showered tens of tear gas bombs over us. We were losing our visibility range, but the security of the protestors behind us was more important than our well-being. This lasted about one hour or so. And then under the intense bombardment of rubber bullets, 7 or 8 friends left the billboard. When I looked behind, I realized that the protestors had retreated about 350-400 meters away. So, I warned the remaining members of my “Phalanx regiment”, saying that we protected people and they retreated in security. “We should run away from here now! If we stay, we’ll be dead! Don’t be stupid!” But one of the Çarşı members with red t-shirt said, “No, we can’t leave! If we do, the police would massacre the protestors!” I looked into his eyes with proud. We protected many people from getting wounded for one and a half hour. Even though I was sure that it was stupid to stay, I couldn’t leave my friends there. But we were exhausted. And the police intensified firing rubber bullets, tear gas bombs and pressurized water. And all of a sudden, my three friends all at the same time just let the billboard and ran away. I was there all alone face to face with a troop of riot police who attacked me like crazy. Time just stopped running. Two policemen flew out at me. I was defending myself. I even managed to make one of them fall down (that’s why he slapped me later on, foaming with rage). While I was struggling for my life with two policemen, another one came behind me and took out my gas mask. At that moment, I lost my sight. I couldn’t breathe. And the police took me down by kicking and punching. You can see this in the video… It was a pacific and unarmed resistance against heavily armed attack. Result: Brain trauma, tens of stiches on the head and legs, a slit-open eyebrow, and a clean conscience gleaming with the feeling of having protected people from unjust attacks.
What am I thinking now? And not to swerve from honesty: My special thanks to a policeman
If I hadn’t been an athlete and if the Valide Sultan Mosque hadn’t been transformed into an infirmary, I would have been died of the blood loss. Therefore, first of all I thank God. And whatever happens we shouldn’t swerve from honesty. The policeman who was shouting at me, “Get lost!”, towards the end of the video tried to protect me from vandals later on. Maybe it was because I was bleeding all over and he was worried that he’d be in trouble or maybe just because of some scruple. But it’s not important for me. Even if I know that I’ll never learn his name, I’d like to thank him anyway. I wasn’t there to harm you, Mr. Police officer. And you didn’t harm me personally. So, thank you. If the other policemen were like you, then this country wouldn’t be undergoing this terrible situation, and we would be working together for this country even if we have different worldviews.
Secondly, I’d also like to say something to the protesters: Please hang on and think strategically. Do not attack the police and do not ever damage any public property. Do not drink alcohol abusively and do not light fire without a good reason. But when the police attack you, do not forget that there are people who try to protect you in the front lines and help them. Do not forget, the stake is not to overthrow the government. We shouldn’t look for democracy out of the ballot box.
Thirdly, my only wish from the start was to see the riot control police should stop cracking down on people and the government should apologize for its unacceptable attitude so that human dignity can be restored. As of today, it seems that things will calm down considering the fact that the President’s and some AKP deputies’ reconciling statements. So, we should keep calm and don’t fall prey to provocations. Even though it was always the police that attacked the protestors, the individuals who have a tendency to attack the policemen at any cost are provocateurs to my mind. We should be alerted about these individuals because our aim is to reconcile, not to make war. And as someone who painted Beşiktaş with his blood, I have only one request from people: Please with all your sincerity cry out loud that all we want is real democracy, not an authoritarian regime that keeps barking, “We have decided to do such and such! Nothing can change our decision!” Democracy should be a regime of liberty where the participation of the citizen as well as the voice of the public opinion is paramount in every social issue. You shouldn’t bow at authoritarian people in every camp. We stood against the repression with our bodies and blood. I do hope that we can save our green spaces from the privatization, traitorous politicians and their mercenaries. Do not forget: “Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once (Julius Caesar (ii, ii, 32-37).
Post scriptum: At the moment, there are some partisans of certain ideologies that give the impression that they conquered Taksim, but they didn’t do anything for Taksim except for drinking alcohol. The real burden was on the shoulders of thousands of people in Dolmabahçe, those people who are independent and not affiliated with any political party or ideology.
4 July 2013
This post is also available in: Turkish