The riots in Istanbul

Police gassing protestors in Talimhane, by szaza

For the past three days, people have gathered in Gezi Parkı in Taksim to
protest the removal of trees for the massive construction project that
the government begun last fall. The plan to turn one of the area’s last
green spaces into a shopping mall, moved people to peacefully occupy the
park. In response, police have attacked protestors with tear gas and
water cannons, injuring many, hospitalizing some. I do not know the
exact figures, nevertheless, when I came home from work today, my
neighbourhood looked like a war zone. Unarmed citizens are being gassed, sprayed point-blank in the face with
chemicals, and assaulted by high-pressured water cannons. They even gassed the metro.

Police gassing protestors in Talimhane, by PeF

I tell you, it’s madness outside. This evening, a few hundred of us were squeezed into the little
hotel-lined streets, which were littered with broken glass, teargas
canisters, and pieces of plywood. Fires were set, barricades erected,
and the police, silhouetted figures in the orange smoky air, shot gas
every other minute at us. A smoking canister bounced off the pavement
and hit my left knee, while my right foot received a direct hit. The
pain was intense, but then I felt the burning.

Protestors, by PeF
Protester with eye-soothing solution, by PeF
Protestors clapping and singing, by PeF

We eventually made it home safely, though many did not— people are
seriously injured, and the Turkish media, who initially ignored the
protests, is just now starting to cover the story. I was told by one
protestor as he watched me sketch the scene, “Tell the world— you must
tell the world what is happening here.”

Visit my blog Harika to see the photos, and hear more of the story.

Read PeF’s account in Portuguese, on Urban Sketchers Portugal.


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