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  1. ITV Report

Eyewitnesses reveal horror and hope after Turkish protests turn brutal

Riot police, seen above, have clashed with anti-government protesters in Ankara as the violence entered a sixth day. Photo: REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The following eyewitness report has been co-written by an attorney-at-law and a digital communication specialist in Turkey.

It all began with democratic, peaceful and civilised protests. Some 50 environmentalists stood guard at the Taksim Gezi Park on a Tuesday morning while some trees and the walls of the park were being destructed. They were destroying the park as they were to build a shopping mall instead.

Police sprayed them with tear gas.

Police have sprayed gas in the Besiktas area of Istanbul. Credit: ITV News

In the following two days, there were hundreds of sit-in protesters reading books, singing songs and even sleeping at the park during the night. There were actors, lawyers, scientists, students, academicians, who were all supporting the protest.

They were just protecting their park: the only green area left in the centre of Istanbul. Police burned down their tents.

From Friday dawn, police used water cannons and tear gas against the protesters who were sleeping. The spraying went on into the afternoon.

Pepper gas, orange gas and batons were added to the list of tools used by the police. Hundreds of people were heavily injured.

Barricades have been set on fire in the nightly unrest. Credit: REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Use of excessive force led to public attention through Facebook and Twitter in just a few hours.

Already by Friday evening, there were thousands of civilians in and around the Taksim Square to support the protesters. People also gathered around in other major districts of Istanbul, both on European and Asian sides.

Police kept on spraying different types of gas towards innocent people. Rubber bullets were also used, which led to serious injuries in people’s arms, eyes and heads.

Anti-government protesters filled the streets in Ankara this morning to continue to demonstrate. Credit: REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The next morning, thousands of people crossed the Bosphorus Bridge by foot from the Asian side to the European side.

Protests spread to almost every city in Turkey as well as many cities across the US, Europe and Asia.

Due to the use of excessive force by the police against people, tensions were raised very quickly and the reaction grew against the police, the government and the prime minister.

People were already angry towards the threats against their freedom and their private lives. This was the final straw.

Crowds of young people have united in dissent at Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. Credit: ITV News

Since then, protests have been going on in almost every district in every Turkish city. Some places in downtown Istanbul are more like battlefields now. Helicopters have thrown heavy gas on people from the air. Thousands of people have been arrested. They have been attacked at their own homes by tear gas and batons. People have been beaten on the streets. People have been killed in the violence. Young Twitter users hve been chased and arrested just because they have tweeted. Freedom of thought and speech is facing the most brutal violence ever applied in Turkey.

Statements from the prime minister raise the tension and people go out to the streets again, after a few hours of resting, or maybe less. They shout, they throw slogans, they wave the Turkish flag. They demonstrate against the media channels and their owners who did not televise what really happened in Taksim. They boycott companies who support, or have business relationships with, the government.

"Turkish people have woken up," according to the eyewitnesses. Credit: ITV News

We cannot ever forget the scenes we have witnessed in the past few days. We saw people bleeding on the street because of stains of rubber bullets thrown by the police. We saw nurses and doctors being beaten by the police just because they were helping injured people. We saw street animals being shocked due to heavy gas in the air.

We also witnessed people helping each other. People from all different political, ethnical, religious groups, people from different jobs, ages and educational backgrounds were there, one next to each other. We saw people cleaning out the streets, we saw people giving water and food to each other, we saw people giving each other gas masks and medicine. We believe this spirit will save the Turkish Republic. Turkish people have woken up. They will fight for their brothers who were brutally beaten, sprayed, injured and killed. They will struggle against violence. They will fight for their freedom.

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