For Turkey, May 31st, 2013  will be known as “Bloody Friday”. Peaceful Turkish citizens held a four-day sit-in at Gezi Park in Istanbul to protest the destruction of a part of iconic Taksim Square to build a shopping center. What began with around 100 protestors spread into tens of thousands of demonstrators, who sat in the park, reading, singing and dancing in an attempt to hold off the bulldozers. In response to the protest, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a public announcement stating that nothing would stop plans to demolish the park, and that protestors should simply go home. In the early hours of Friday morning, he ordered his police forces to attack protestors in the park using water cannons and tear gas without further warning. With one order, Erdogan turned a peaceful protest into a war zone. What began as a protest to defend one of Istanbul’s most famous parks has been inflamed into a wider anger against Prime Minister Erdogan and his increasingly authoritarian rule. “We do not have a government, we have Tayyip Erdogan,” political scientist and protester Koray Caliskan told the Reuters news agency. “They are not listening to us… This is the beginning of a summer of discontent.” There are reports of tents being burned as people slept in them, people being dragged away, being tear gassed, and beaten. Bystanders on the way to work were also injured.  Tear gas grenades were thrown into Metro stations and the doors locked, as people inside tweeted desperate messages. Media channels in Turkey are being heavily censored, security cameras are being turned off in the Square, and news outlets are altering and misrepresenting the events in Gezi Park. Because of this, the number of injuries reported are contradictory, ranging from 12 to 100 injured. However the images from the clash speak for themselves. Protests have now been reported in other cities, including Bodrum, Konya and Izmir. Activists around the world are staging protests in solidarity with Turkey, to voice their outrage at Erdogan’s heavy handed tactics. There is even a White House Petition to draw international attention to the issue. Amnesty International has already condemned the police’s tactics against peaceful protesters. “The use of violence by police on this scale appears designed to deny the right to peaceful protest altogether and to discourage others from taking part” said John Dalhuisen, Director of Europe and Central Asia Programme at Amnesty International. “The use of tear gas against peaceful protestors and in confined spaces where it may constitute a serious danger to health is unacceptable, breaches international human rights standards and must be stopped immediately.” Even Prime Minister Erdogan admitted to using “extreme” police action against demonstrators. “It is true that there have been some mistakes, extremism in police response,” Erdogan said. He hopes to remedy the situation by promising legal action against police officers acting “disproportionately.” But it is Erdogan and the Turkish government who should be held accountable. As the protests raged on, citizens of Turkey took to the internet to increase awareness of the police brutality and Erdogan’s escalating abuse of power. “Please create awareness internationally about our plight, or matters are going to get much, much worse. We want all international media channels – soclal and mass – to report this news.” A blogger wrote, “Please help us to share this message and stop Erdogan’s ruthless, inhumane acts. In a never-ending series of human rights abuses that have occurred under his leadership, this is the last straw.”   tumblr_mnqsjpZnHx1qm2tv9o1_1280 Picture1 tumblr_mnoh14pPX61qglxkoo10_1280 Picture3 Picture2   tumblr_mnoh14pPX61qglxkoo6_1280 Resources Photos Occupy Gezi on Tumblr (Warning, VERY graphic images) Video Horrendous, violent attacks from the government against peaceful protesters in Istanbul (Youtube Video) Turkish police have violently attacked peaceful protesters (Vimeo video) Articles As Istanbul protests continue, government turns off live camera feeds from Taksim (Access Now) Turkey must halt brutal police repression and investigate abuses at Istanbul protest  (Amnesty USA) On Second Day, Anti-Government Protests Swell In Turkey (NPR) Turkish demonstrators spark worldwide solidarity protests (Times of Israel) Turkey PM Admits Extreme Police Action In Istanbul Protests (News Info) Petition Ask the White House to condemn the actions taken against peaceful protesters in Istanbul (White House Petition)