Richard sez, "The Swiss riot police have taken a page out of the Turkish authorities' book. After occupiers ('critics'?) responded to the 'irony' of Tadashi Kawamata's cafe/boutique in the form of a favela by occupying it, moving in and throwing a down-home favela house party, the Swiss police forcibly evicted them from the art installation using real, unironic tear gas and batons."
Poiu is in Turkey; he writes: " Since yesterday evening, everything has worsened. Unfortunately it is not really covered by local media, the consequence of that being that it gets a lot less international attention than it should. People are gassed here non stop, in all central Istanbul areas. Tens of thousands of people are out in the streets. The only two channels who cover the street events are ULUSAL KANAL CANLI YAYINI and artı bir tv. You should check them out just to get an idea of the scale and the drama."
Meanwhile, there's a lot of astounding stuff in the Occupy Gezi Pics Tumblr.
Turkish police used extreme force to eject the protesters from Taksim Square yesterday. Egemen Bağış, Turkey's representative in the EU, gave a televised address in which he said, "[The police] will intervene against anybody who tries to enter Taksim Square, [treating them] as a terrorist."
Zeynep Tufekci, a Turkish-American Princeton/UNC sociologist who studies social movements and the Internet is presently in Istanbul's Gezi Park at the protests. She follows up on her earlier piece on the "social media style of protest" with a long and thoughtful look at what the protesters on the ground in Gezi Park are doing and why they're doing it:
After talking to the park protesters for days here is a very quick compilation of the main complaints and reasons people say brought them to the park:
1- Protesters say that they are worried about Erdogan’s growing authoritarian style of governance. “He thinks we don’t count.” “He never listens to anyone else.” “Why are they trying to pass laws about how I live? What’s it to him?”
Erdogan’s AKP party won the last election (its third) and is admittedly popular with many sectors of society, including some who are now in the Park have voted for him. It has accomplished many good things for the country through a program of reform and development. Any comparisons with Mubarak and pre-Tahrir 2011 Egypt are misplaced and ignorant. The country is polarized; it is not ruled by an unelected autocrat.
However, due to the electoral system which punishes small parties (with a 10% barrier for entrance to the parliament) and a spectacularly incompetent opposition, AKP has almost two-thirds of the deputies in the parliament with about 50% of the vote. Due to this set up, they can pass almost any law they want. People said to me “he rules like he has 90%.”
So, that seems to be the heart of the issue. People have a variety of grievances, but concentrate mostly about overreach and “majoritarian authoritarianism.” For example, Erdogan recently announced that they would be building a third bridge over the Bosphorus strait. Many people felt that the plan was not discussed at all with the public and concerns about environmental impact ignored. Then, he announced that they had decided the bridge would be named “Yavuz Sultan Selim”–an Ottoman king (“padisah”) famous for a massacre of Alevi (Turkey’s alawites) populations. Unsurprisingly, Alevis who compromise a significant portion of the Turkish population were gravely offended. In the predominantly “GAzi” (not Gezi) neighborhood, people have been marching every night since the Taksim protests began. Last night, they blocked the main TEM highway for a while before voluntarily dispersing.
Read on for an excellent on-the-ground view of the mood of the protesters, some important observations on censorship, and a sickening look at the police violence directed against the protesters.
Rene from the German site Nerdcore sez, "A friend of mine who is staying in Istanbul right now contacted me this morning and I had the opportunity to interview a girl who is occupying Gezi Park in Turkey right now. The situation calmed down, but she told me that actually the whole city of Istanbul is up on their feet roaming the streets."
D: The protests started with only a bunch of people who sat on at Gezi Parc so they don’t turn the only green area at Taksim so it becomes a mall. I must say they have reason. I never go to that parc unless i have to walk through but from Şişhane to where I live there are already 8 shopping malls! it’s crazy. The protestors are aware of that this is not against a shopping mall. It started like that but when the police attacked a bunch of people and continued the second day, the people rised against the brutality of the government. And now it is about the force that he uses against his people, the rules he makes because he wants to and that he bans all kind of freedom for the Turkish people.
NC: What’s the Military doing right now? Can they play a bigger role, although Erdogan pretty much deprived them of power?
D: Well, the military is silent. I don’t know wether they can play a role. If that happens it already sounds very scary. But as you said, Erdoğan did deprive them of power. I have heard that the military house in Harbiye took some people in to protect them but they don’t interfere.
Two photos from the OccupyGeziPics Tumblr show the "people's bulldozer" in action -- apparently a mechanical digger commandeered off a building site by protesters in Besiktas (one of my Twitter followers reports a rumor that it was a youth gang, and not portesters, though of course, youth gangs may be protesting too), and used to attack police barricades.
Throughout the weekend, protests have erupted in Turkey in response to the brutal pacification of a peaceful sit-in in Istanbul. Over 1,700 people have been arested and there are multiple unconfirmed reports of people dying. The Prime Minister is blaming the entire protest on the social menace known as Twitter, which seems to be the only way for protesters to communicate (hashtag #occupygezi), as Turkish media networks seem to keep mum on the whole affair, and cell phone providers are pressured by the government to block communications.
Meanwhile, the police are using tear gas, batons and rubber bullets to pacify the growing unrest. Amnesty International claims at least two protesters died so far, and Twitter is abuzz with reports of the police firing at defenseless people and demolishing shops to get at the protesters trying to hide inside.
Zeynep Tufekci's essay analyzing the role that social media played in both the #OccupyGezi and the Arab Spring explores the differences and similarities between different uprisings, and has some very incisive things to say about what social media contributes to political change movements:
It was after the Gezi protesters were met with the usual combination of tear-gas and media silence something interesting started happening. The news of the protests started circulating around social media, especially on Twitter and Facebook. I follow a sizable number of people in Turkey and my Twitter friends include AKP supporters as well as media and academics. Everyone was aghast at the idea that a small number of young people, trying to protect trees, were being treated so brutally. Also, the government, which usually tends to get ahead of such events by having the prime minister address incidents, seemingly decided to ignore this round. They probably thought it was too few, too little, too environmental, too marginal.
On that, it seems they were wrong. Soon after, I started watching hashtags pop-up on Twitter, and established Twitter personas –ranging from media stars to political accounts– start sharing information about solidarity gatherings in other cities, and other neighborhoods in Istanbul. Around 3am, I had pictures from many major neighborhoods in Turkey –Kadıköy, Bakırköy, Beşiktaş, Avcılar, etc– showing thousands of people on the streets, not really knowing what to do, but wanting to do something. There was a lot of banging of pots, flags, and slogans. There were also solidarity protests in Izmit, Adana, Izmir, Ankara, Konya, Afyon, Edirne,Mersin, Trabzon, Antalya, Eskişehir, Aydın and growing.
(Estimated 40,000 people cross the Bosphorous Bridge to join the protests/OccupyGeziPics)
Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul is alive with protest at this moment. The action began on May 28, when environmentalists protested plans to remove the park and replace it with a mall, and were met with a brutal police crackdown. Since then thousands have taken to the streets in Istanbul and other Turkish cities (though there's a media blackout on the protests, and poor Internet penetration in Turkey, which means the news is slow to reach other parts of the country).
Jello Biafra and The Guantanamo School Of Medicine's new album, White People and the Damage Done, is an artifact from an alternate reality in which the Dead Kennedys never dissolved in acrimony, and instead kept on gigging and recording, getting tighter and tighter, angrier and angrier, and yet, somehow, never aging. Jello Biafra's lyrics are unmistakably his, but moreso -- more sarcastic, more trenchant, more unapologetically political than ever. His delivery is even more caustic than in the Kennedys' heyday, and the backing band (which is something of an all-star punk act, with alumni from the Rollins band, Digital Underground, Butthole Surfers and more) is hard-driving and heavy and relentless.
There's not a bad track on this one, but the real standout is Shock-U-Py!, an anthem about the Occupy movement, which you can hear after the jump. Don't miss the spoken word break in the middle.
White People and the Damage Done [Amazon MP3]
White People and the Damage Done [Amazon UK MP3]
Official City of Melbourne IP address used for biased edits to Wikipedia page for Occupy Melbourne prior to local election
Someone using the City of Melbourne's IP block has been introducing biased edits to the Wikipedia page for Occupy Melbourne, attempting to erase the record of council's resolve to remove Occupy, and trying to smear the Occupy protest by removing the adjective "peaceful" from the page. The edits were made anonymously, but Wikipedia publishes IP addresses for anonymous contributors, and the IP address in question, 188.8.131.52, is registered to the city.
Proof of attacks on Occupy Melbourne Wikipedia page, attempts to change history and evidence in on-going federal court cases. More importantly the edits were made during the last week of MCC’s 2012 elections. A quick tidy up of MCC’s image just before the election. Anyone who didn’t think Melbourne City Council (MCC) was (and still is) opposed to Occupy Melbourne either has their head in the sand, is plainly lying or delusional.
The smoking gun, proof Melbourne City Council is behind the IP address 184.108.40.206 editing Occupy Melbourne Wikipedia page. The timing of this edit is far from coincidental. 21st October, the one year anniversary of the brutal city square eviction and just days before the 2012 Melbourne city council elections, where Robert Doyle sought and gained re-election.
Quinn Norton's Eulogy for #Occupy is a wrenching, beautiful, long postmortem on the Occupy movement, including an eyes-open (and scathing) critique of what went wrong inside Occupy:
But living in parks, having to rub elbows with the people society was set up to shield from each other, began to stress people and make them twitchy from constant culture shock. Grad students trying to reason with smack addicts was torture for both sides. The GA [General Aseembly] became the main venue for this torture, and sitting through it was like watching someone sandpaper an open wound. Everyone said “Fuck the GA” as a joke, but as time wore on, the laughter was getting too long and too hoarse; a joke with blood in it. The metaphorical pain became less metaphorical with each eviction, with the gnawing feeling that something was coming.
Because the GA had no way to reject force, over time it fell to force. Proposals won by intimidation; bullies carried the day. What began as a way to let people reform and remake themselves had no mechanism for dealing with them when they didn’t. It had no way to deal with parasites and predators. It became a diseased process, pushing out the weak and quiet it had meant to enfranchise until it finally collapsed when nothing was left but predators trying to rip out each other’s throats.
By the time I returned to NY from visiting the camp in DC, exhausted with the pain of six evictions, the NYC GA was a place where women were threatened with beatings, and street kids with calls to the police. All the reasonable people had gotten the fuck out. It had become a gladiator pit no one enjoyed watching. Even Weev, the famous internet troll, didn’t last through the nastiness of the GA I took him to. He left while I wasn’t looking, without saying goodbye. We never spoke about it. I didn’t blame him, and I didn’t have to ask why. It was the tiny, brutal, and bitter politics of failed people.
And some cogent analysis of why the wider world couldn't (or wouldn't) accept Occupy's message:
Standing next to an older officer after one eviction, telling him what I’d seen and listening to him worry about how he was going to send his kids to college, I overheard the police talk to each other. Of the protestors they kept saying the same thing, the same three words to each other and walked away: “They’ll be back.” Some said it with scorn, lips curled. Some said it with fear, some excited for the action. Some said it with the watery voices of drowning hope: “They’ll be back.”
Please, let something matter again, let something change.
The policing of protest in America makes it clear that protest has become mere ritual, a farce, and that, by definition, it becomes illegal if it threatens to change anything or inconvenience anyone. In time, all the police announcements came to say the same thing to me. “You may go through your constitutional ritual,” they intoned, “but it must stop before anything of consequence happens.” We must, above all, preserve everything as it is.