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he Sunday before last, while crossing Taksim Square in Istanbul on my way home from a morning visit to inspect the change in Gezi Park which had been wrought the evening before, I came across a spent CS gas cartridge lying at my feet. I picked it up.
The cartridge was of shiny thick tin, big and heavy, empty and dented, but clearly labelled with details. It was manufactured by NonLethal Technologies, Homer City, PA 15748 USA, which makes “a wide range of non-lethal riot and crowd control equipment for military and law enforcement applications.” Visit the website and have a look at the other goodies they make for keeping the people down. Product range includes “smoke grenades and projectiles, CS and CN irritant smoke grenades and projectiles, impact munitions, defensive aerosol sprays, specialty munitions, and other crowd management and pyrotechnic devices.” Apparently, Turkey has imported 62 tons of pepper spray and tear gas worth 21 million dollars in the last twelve years, mainly from America and Brazil. The sell-by-date on the CS gas cartridge was listed as 01/2017.
On the back were WARNINGS in Turkish. These were:
* Don’t aim directly at people.
* There is danger of causing a fire.
* Only to be used by well-trained personnel.
* Only use in the open air. (Police fired them into the subway station to prevent protesters coming out, and also into the lobbies of hotels where demonstrators were sheltering.)
* They should be fired at the prescribed distance at a 45 degree angle.
* It is dangerous to use after the sell-by-date.
* Wash your eyes with lots of water if you become effected by the gas.
If exposed to the gas you are warned to definitely not use ointment or lotion to counter the effects.
This empty cartridge had contained 25 grammes of CS gas, I read. It was to be fired from a distance of at least 120 metres, but the Turkish police have been firing them much closer than that.
Gezi Park was empty, cleared of the thousands of protestors who had been occupying it for a fortnight. Their joyous camp of hope and peace and democracy over crony capitalism, the arrogance of power, and the governing AKP party’s growing authoritarian nature, had been forcibly destroyed overnight by riot police who invaded the area, using water-cannons laced with acid, setting fire to tents and violently beating and arresting the peaceful demonstrators. They had also fired masses of tear gas, causing people to run in panic, gasping for breath as the noxious fumes burned their noses, throats and lungs, their stinging eyes flooded with tears.
Thousands of people have been injured or seriously overcome by gas in clashes in the streets provoked by the police behaviour, even youths and girls badly beaten by thuggish officers. There have been three deaths. One student died from being shot in the head, eleven people have lost eyes.
Commenting on the action of his police force, Prime Minister Erdoğan said:
“I and my government congratulate our police wholeheartedly. On behalf of my country and nation, I would like to thank all my police siblings for standing up against incidents that have been going on for weeks, with sacrifice and patriotism.
Like I expressed before, our police have passed a very important, a very challenging democracy test with success. They [the protesters] have been so cruel to our police. Attacking our police so much constitutes high treason.
“These [protesters] have no respect for religion. They [the protesters] drank alcohol in our mosques. They were so disrespectful that they entered our mosques with their shoes. They turned our mosques into rubbish dumps.”
(In reality brutally wounded protesters sheltered from police and received first aid at Dolmabahce Mosque. The imam said no alcohol was consumed.)
“A hotel hosted protesters. Abetting terrorists is a crime.” (Wounded protesters sought refuge in the Divan Hotel and police fired tear gas inside the lobby.)
Erdoğan said that the actions of the police were admirable.
“Sustaining such a long-term struggle without disrupting its solemnity and its discipline for 48 hours, while remaining hungry and thirsty, I am saying this clearly, is a task only our police can achieve. As the prime minister of a government that has extended freedoms to this extent, increased the standards of democracy and done so many reforms, I am expressing this with all my heart and all my sincerity: We are a government that says ‘zero tolerance to torture.’ We are a government that changed, democratized our police’s rules of intervention into incidents and of custody and interrogation.
If our police made a mistake, we would say it openheartedly and do what was required. However, nobody, regardless of who they are, whether a lawmaker or someone, has the right to swear at and insult our police.”
Well, fuck them, I say.
And the same goes for all the mindless sadistic goons who work as police guard dogs for rich corrupt governments and monarchies around the globe, who try to put down with force the demands of the people for true justice and real democracy, who try to prevent us from creating a REAL brave new world.
Michael Dickinson can be contacted at his website – http://yabanji.tripod.com/