Announcing that they wished to clean the posters from Taksim Square and the Ataturk Cultural Center, the police raided the area again this morning, this time reportedly using rubber bullets fired point blank at protesters (a Star reporter tweeted that he was shot in the chest by a policeman who looked him right in the eye and clearly saw his press insignia) as well as water cannon, clubs and tear gas. Ankara also has seen continual harsh treatment of protesters. Dozens of lawyers who were helping arrested protesters were themselves arrested and hauled off.
There are reports in the media of some masked protesters throwing molotov cocktails at the police, but there is also speculation that these might be plainclothes security people trying to make the protesters look like the violent “marginals” PM Erdogan is painting them as. Here is an up-to-the-minute Reuters report that describes protesters throwing petrol bombs in Taksim Square. The Reuters report also describes police politely asking protesters not to throw rocks:
calling from loudspeakers, “Dear Gezi friends. We are unhappy with this situation. We don’t want to intervene. We don’t want to harm you. Please withdraw.”
Meanwhile Prime Minister Erdogan has held at least six speeches in which he blamed the uprising on a plot by unnamed outsiders, railed at the protesters and spewed misinformation, for instance that protesters drank beer in the Dolmabahce Mosque, that they burned a Turkish flag (that image actually was from a Kurdish demonstration some time ago), that the protesters killed a police official (actually a policeman died when he fell off a pedestrian walkway while chasing protesters), and that the protesters have been attacking covered women (some protesters have tried to counter this by posting photos of covered women protesters). He has promised punishment and said he wouldn’t back down. According to Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc on Monday, Erdogan has, however, agreed to meet the leaders of the Gezi Park Platform group, probably on Wednesday.
Still, some journalists are getting the willies, remembering back to the 1978 Maraş and 1993 Madımak (or Sivas) massacres, which were also preceded by statements demonizing the protesters and victims and that made social divisions between secular and religious and between Alevi and Sunni into deadly chasms that gave the state an excuse to impose martial law and arrest and try hundreds of people. In the Maraş case, a bomb was thrown into a right-wing cinema, it was rumored by leftists, and then a bomb thrown into a left-wing coffee shop. (Some believe that the massacre was planned by the state.) As thousands of people prepared for the funerals, rumors were spread that “the communists are going to bomb the mosque”. In the ensuing violence at least a hundred people were killed and the army declared martial law in many provinces. In the Sivas case, 37 people were killed, mostly Alevi intellectuals, when a religious mob set fire to the hotel in which they were meeting. There was evidence at the time that the police and firefighters did not respond in a timely manner.
The implication in both cases was that the government supported or even incited the violence in order to create widespread disorder that would give them an excuse to crack down with martial law and mass arrests, and thus “clean up” society.