PM of Turkey Lures Thousands into a Trap

Posted on June 11, 2013

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I will never forget the riot police, casually smoking cigarettes, sitting on the ground, smiling. Their casual demeanor calmed me a little bit and led me to believe the government would honor their word not to touch the protesters in the park. Now, when I think about those hundreds of smiling faces, I feel sick. It was a trap the whole time, and they knew it.

We came to be a part of the protest today on Tuesday. The government had cleared Taksim square. They claimed they wouldn’t touch the protesters in the park, and their main goal was to take control of the square and take down some banners.

My friend and I decided to exit the square and climb up the edge of Gezi Park, so we could get a shot of the breathtaking number of people jammed into this place on a weeknight.

To our right was the open construction site where they began construction of a mall. In front of us was the impressive expanse of Taksim square teeming with people. We were there for about five or ten minutes. I got a text from a friend over on the Asia side asking if she should come. Was it violent? I texted: No.

Five minutes later, without any warning, rockets of gas began stabbing directly into the middle of the crowd.

A stun grenade exploded near me.

I ducked my head down and tried to look for an escape. No one was ready for this. No one was wearing a mask. We were so far from the police it seemed silly.

Seconds after the stun grenade went off, tear gas was streaming all around me. Shooting past me. Rolling innocently up next to me.

I don’t mean to make this dramatic, but it was the first time in my life I thought I might die. I was trapped. Because the police were shooting everywhere, no direction made sense for me to run.

I decided a blind leap into an open construction site filled with jagged metal was the wrong way. I climbed the concrete fence further into the park. The gas kept coming. The park wasn’t safe. I stumbled and almost got trampled. I followed the people directly in front of me under a tent. I wasn’t there two seconds when a gas canister, perfectly fired, came right into the tent with us. It was mad flight to escape the tent, but you couldn’t run. Ever inch of ground was occupied with another human.

The gas kept coming. I had made it half way into the large park before things slowed down for a moment. My face was covered in snot, and tear gas, and lemon. I looked around. I saw the faces of fearless young women and men. They never stopped chanting. I am convinced many of them were ready to die. They never stopped carrying the wounded. I don’t think they ever will.

I was separated from my friend, and he didn’t answer his cell. I was half convinced he had be driven off the edge and busted his head on some metal.

We eventually met up near the Divan hotel famous for housing protesters. We escaped through back alleys of children playing and dazed protesters just as lost in this area of the city as I was.

As I left Europe on the ferry, the hot summer day had changed to cold winds sweeping across the Bosporus at night. From the Galata Tower, all the way to the skyscrapers of Osmanbey, the Istanbul night sky was illuminated with a yellow toxic cloud. I could smell the poison in the wind. Then fireworks in Eyup. Beautiful purples and greens. In Üsküdar, fireworks. Purple and blue shot high into the black.

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