The Sixth Day of Fire, Tear Gas, and Blood in Istanbul

By Esra Gurmen, Photos: Nazim Serhat Firat and Ali Güracar

On the sixth day of the biggest civil uprising Turkey has seen in a decade, police forces retreated from Taksim Square in central Istanbul following a 36-hour battle.

Tens of thousands of protesters spent the whole night resisting an unregulated and brutal assault of tear gas, water cannons, and plastic bullets, which left scores of people injured, traumatized, and hospitalized.

While people were being beaten by police, mainstream media outlets have caused outrage among Turks by neglecting to comment and refusing to broadcast from the streets. Residents who couldn't leave their houses banged saucepans and pots against each other to create a symphony of protest noise.

By and large, people have united in opposition against the way Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party have been treating protesters. Unexpected alliances have formed between people from wildly disparate groups, such as "Devrimci Muslumanlar" (anticapitalist Muslims), LGBT groups, secularists, right wingers, and the hooligan firms of major football teams. Doctors have volunteered their time and effort to help the injured on the streets and lawyers have come to the aid of those who have been detained.

This afternoon, there were reports that many ISPs have been disconnected, so people have resorted to alternative DNS systems and VPNs to access the internet. At the Besiktas ferry stop, 15 minutes from Taksim Square, police are blocking protesters as they disembark from boats, attacking them with batons and tear gas.

Now that the police have left Taksim Square (tear-gassing people as they went), thousands of people remain in Gezi Park waving Turkish flags and chanting "Tayyip Istifa"—meaning "Tayyip Resign"—while #tayyipistifa is trending on Twitter. There are reports that tensions are rising between protesters and pro-government Islamist groups in the nearby neighborhood of Tophane, where Islamists are said to be attacking people with knives.

Meanwhile, the fighting has spread to the city of Ankara, where protesters in Kizilay Square have been tear-gassed from police helicopters. Police violence shows no sign of letting up and there are many injured.

Previously – Istanbul's Taksim Square Has Become a Warzone

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