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The Lawyers of Istanbul Are Clashing with Police

When even the lawyers are rebelling, you know you've got a problem.

af VICE Staff
11 juni 2013, 6:50pm

Things are not getting any better in Turkey. At 12.30PM today – the 15th day since the Gezi Park resistance exploded into a nationwide protest against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) – lawyers congregated in Caglayan Courthouse, central Istanbul. Once inside the main hall, they issued a press statement pledging support to the social uprising and started to chant: "Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance!" It was the third time they'd congregated there in the last two weeks, but evidently the police were operating a "three strikes and you're out" policy. Special Forces officers arrived and flooded into Caglayan, in a pre-planned swoop.

After two lawyers were mercilessly picked off and carried outside, the 100 or so remaining lawyers tried to protest by holding a sit in. At this point, the police – aided by courthouse security, and on the command of the Attorney General – began forcefully dragging people away, in some cases striking the lawyers and kicking them along the ground. A spokesperson for the Istanbul Bar Association told VICE that the number of detained lawyers was 45. This afternoon, dozens of lawyers waited outside the police station, calling for their colleagues to be released. Tomorrow, the lawyers of Istanbul will again express their support for the protesters, and workers in the legal profession will hold marches in solidarity with the uprising in cities across Turkey.

The lawyers' protest came on another day of drama in Turkey, as fighting again erupted in Taksim Square this morning. Some protesters were seen hurling Molotov cocktails at the police, which was met with water cannon fire. However, some of those who've been attempting to protest peacefully in Gezi Park for the duration of the uprising have raised doubts about the more militant activists. There's a suggestion that they are, in fact, plain clothes police attempting to make the legitimate protesters seem more violent than they really are, in front of what still seems to be a national media subservient to Prime Minister Erdogan's government.

"This is the first time anyone has ever seen a Molotov in the Taksim area," an eyewitness told us. "The police are not brutally attacking with water and gas – they're using the water cannons, but really softly. It's more like they're using garden sprinklers."

At this stage, these rumours are impossible to confirm, and come with a heavy caveat from us that they're very similar to other claims made regularly by protesters about police plants at public demonstrations.

Video courtesy of Milliyet. Image by Murat Kaya.

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