Erdoğan Learned Nothing
Yesterday from Istanbul, I wrote that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had probably learned his lesson. I predicted that he was going simply to leave the protesters alone. I was wrong: he learned nothing.
Sparked initially by a government decree to bulldoze the last major park area in central Istanbul, this country is experiencing a widespread popular uprising protesting the autocratic behavior of its prime minister. At least 60 different protests have been active in different parts of this country of eighty million people, 16 million of whom live in Istanbul.
I went to dinner tonight with my son, family, and friends to a large popular restaurant about a kilometer from Taksim Square, the focal point of the protest movement. Four times during the meal, the entire restaurant started shouting, singing, clinking glasses all in support of the protesters who had regathered in Taksim. When people in the restaurant accessed their cell phones, they saw what was happening or got messages from protesters and the noise inside the restaurant was their way of supporting their fellows less than a mile away.
Again, the police tore into the people, dispersing them with teargas and a water cannon with pepper-laden water, just like five nights ago. There were hundreds of small children at the park who were violently separated from their parents as the police started arresting, drenching, or gassing Turks who had 'peaceably assembled, to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'
The last is of course a paraphrase of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am told that the Turkish Constitution has similar words with identical intent. Obviously, the government is ignoring its obligation to allow such protests.
I heard the prime minister this afternoon claim that the protesters were crazed, out of control rioters with no respect for the law. He accused them of urinating and defecating in the park. He is correct, just not the way he implied. The protesters planned on being there for some time. So, to be conscientious, they brought along Porta-potties with them. THAT is where they were defecating and urinating.
I regret what is happening to a people who simply want to live freely in their country under rule of law. It is painful to watch a government distort the truth and use police tactics to suppress free speech. Yet, I watch with great admiration people refusing to back down under tyrannical pressure. It reminds me of some upstart, rebellious colonists back in 1776.
The author is a regular contributor to American Thinker who prefers to remain anonymous. He fears possible reprisals by Turkish government against his son who is and will remain a resident of Istanbul.