“Papa Tayyip”, as Erdogan’s supporters call him, returned in the early hours of Friday from his visit to the Maghreb. His hiding in Morocco had to end. His party, the AKP, had declared several times that it would not organize a welcome rally for its president, although up 10,000 supporters (according to some estimates) did gather on Thursday evening. “Chemical Tayyip”, as he is referred to by the tear gassed demonstrators, however, met not only his supporters, but also even bigger protests in the country than when he left, despite his claims that everything would end quickly, as the protestors were only “marginal elements” and “marauders”. Wrong he was indeed!
The “spontaneous” greeting rally of Tayyip “Gasdogan” (one can guess where that nickname came from) was anything but spontaneous. According to certain sources, AKP supporters were allowed to use public transport free of charge. The metro was running until 4am, whereas normally it does so until 11:30pm. Furthermore, Erdogan’s flight was postponed to ensure that everybody could return home from work and then come to meet him. His supporters “spontaneously” assembled after receiving text messages from their local AKP officials. Thousands of messages had been sent.
The media, of course, were on the scene to report on this “spontaneous” rally of “50% of the people” (Erdogan’s estimate). Let us recall that the Turksih media, with few exceptions, haven’t reported at all on the protests in Taksim Square and Gezi Park. They have also generally been silent about the spread of the protests across the country. Curiously enough, the “spontaneous” Erdogan supporters at the airport happened to be lit up by spotlights. Unfortunately for Erdogan, they only showed that he managed to assemble a tiny fraction of a 70 million strong population.
The very spontaneous Prime Minister then said: “I call on the demonstrations to cease immediately, since they have lost their democratic legitimacy and have degenerated into vandalism.” So, at first he labelled the demonstrators as “marginal elements” (as if marginalized groups have no right to protest), “terrorists” and “bandits”. Then he argued that these “bandits” had lost democratic legitimacy – something which was denied to them in the first place.
Despite the low turnout at his well organized rally, Erdogan claims that 50% of the people support him because he got 49% in the last elections, but we also need to remember that in Turkey voting is compulsory and fines can be imposed on those who do not turn up at the polling stations. Ballot rigging is common, and up until several years ago there were only five years of mandatory education. The AKP is also known to have bought votes by handing out washing machines in villages... with no running water.
After more predictable rhetoric about vandalism, respect for the law and “democratic principles”, the sorry bunch in attendance started chanting “Let us go, we will crush Taksim!”, “Papa Tayyip” let them shout it out for a while and then proclaimed: “You have remained calm, mature and have shown to have common sense.” He thanked his supporters for remaining calm over the previous few days, despite himself “being barely able to restrain them to remain in their homes”. Maybe he hadn’t been informed about the fact that his party colleagues had marched side by side with the riot police in cities across Turkey and attacked everything in sight with metal rods and wooden bats. He may also have not been informed of the fact that members of the Free Syrian Army – which not only enjoys his support, but is also a suspect in the Reyhanli bombings and the attempted Adana bombing – had participated in the riots as agent provocateurs. He concluded by explaining that work at Gezi Park would resume as planned, after which he called on the few thousand assembled to peacefully return to their homes.
Meanwhile, in Taksim Square, the people were singing, jumping, chanting slogans, discussing, borrowing books from the improvised library, eating and drinking at field kitchens and taking part in guard duty shifts. During the night alone there are tens of thousands of them, whereas during the day their numbers swell into hundreds of thousands. Even more were expected to arrive during the weekend. They were not organized by any of the opposition parties. 70% of surveyed participants don’t feel aligned to any of the existing political parties, 14.7% are undecided and only 15.3% claim to support one of the parties.
At the same time, the police attacked demonstrators assembled at the Gazi Mahala (a city quarter), where a 25 year old man was hit on the head by a tear gas canister. He is now in a critical state. This is not the first time something like this has happened. Many have lost an eye, with their faces mutilated and will have other permanent injuries. Many are in a critical state at this very moment. The police aim deliberately at the heads of the protestors with water cannons, tear gas or plastic bullets. Live ammunition has been used as well on several occasions.
Regarding this terror against the people, all that “Chemical Tayyip” had to say was that there has been excessive violence and that there will be an investigation into the matter. It remains to be seen how the majority of the police is to be interrogated and subsequently punished for its use of excessive force against the protests. Yesterday, on Friday, a police officer, who died in Adana by falling from an overpass while chasing after protestors, was buried with all state honours and portrayed by the media as a hero and martyr. We all know that wasn’t the case. Those killed by the police, Abdullah Can Comert, Mehmet Ayvalitash and Ethem Sarisuluk are the real heroes. Their tragic deaths will never be forgotten.
All this reveals the real situation on the streets and exposes all the lies and delusions of the Great Sultan Tayyip and all of his viziers, kadis (Ottoman term for judges), walis (Ottoman term for governors) and allies in the West who are attempting to portray these events as a political stunt of the opposition for the forthcoming elections.