My friends whom I was trying to organize from Facebook were planning to be in KÄ±zÄ±lay around 16.00 pm, synchronized with the larger group attending the Facebook event so that we donâ€™t get gassed individually but as a group. The plan was to meet in front of the Zara Store on AtatÃ¼rk Boulevard â€“ the main street in KÄ±zÄ±lay. I have to admit that it was one of the stupidest decisions we have ever made since that street was at the heart of the riot. Taking our masks, scarves and a couple of lemons in our backpacks, we tried to get to our meeting point. One of my friends, Melih, was already on the field. Another one was coming from Olgunlar, a street that crosses AtatÃ¼rk Boulevard.
The moment I got to AtatÃ¼rk Boulevard, I saw a large group walking down. Not seeing the gas bombs, and not being able to realize the helicopters aiming at people to throw tear gas, I kept on walking. Then I heard a noise, the loudest I have ever heard in my life. Then I saw the gas coming out of the bomb which was less than a meter away from me. At first, its effect was nothing more than burning eyes. I didnâ€™t yet know that the adrenaline blocks the pain receptors for a short while in times of shock. We ran as fast as we could for there was no point in trying to hide, we were out in the open. The moment we turned right, I thought the police could no longer throw gas, at least not as close as the one we got hit by a moment ago. So the adrenaline started dropping, and for the first time in my life I realized what it felt like to suffocate. People often complain about burning eyes; and Iâ€™m not saying that they donâ€™t have a point. When the gas is coming from a distance, itâ€™s only the eyes that are affected by it.
But that moment, I thought I was going to cough out my lungs. Luckily there were people waiting with vinegar to help people. A girl told me to take of my mask and started pouring vinegar on my face. Normally I would have objected someone trying to put acid on my face, and would try to cover my eyes. But I couldnâ€™t breathe, so I let her do whatever she wishes. After a while of struggle and drooling, Iâ€™ve managed to breathe again and started walking to find my friends. I found one of them in a couple of minutes and we started walking back up from the street parallel to the one which the main action was taking place in.
One of the strange things that still stay as a mystery to me is that if someone asked me what I would do if I were to encounter what I did at that moment, I would probably say that Iâ€™d go home without a doubt. But that day, I didnâ€™t even thought of going back, and neither did any of my friends. Instead we put more vinegar into our masks and tried to slice a lemon with our hands and teeth for we didnâ€™t bring knives not to get into trouble with the police â€“ yes, ironic, I know.
Around 16.30, it was four of us joined to a larger group chanting slogans against AKP (Justice and Development Party) and for the protection of the Taksim Park. Staying there for a while, weâ€™ve decided to go to Konur Street where there were other people whom we can meet with. At this moment, I should explain the defense and the police lines. People at the upper parts of the city (TunalÄ±, Tunus and upper AtatÃ¼rk Boulevard) aim to go to GÃ¼venpark, to move on to the Congress House. There is also another group around KÄ±zÄ±lay Square, with the same purpose. The main problem is that since the police forces were throwing tear gas from two locations (in the middle of AtatÃ¼rk Boulevard), the group on the upper parts and the one on the lower parts couldnâ€™t join. Many people kept on trying, walking against the gas. Although one gets used to the gas easier than expected, the threat of getting hit by its shell is a major one. Therefore, by the end of the day, people had managed to move only a one or two hundred meters.
Instead of joining one of those two groups, we have decided to be on MeÅŸrutiyet Avenue, one that crosses AtatÃ¼rk Boulevard.
Around 18.00, the amount of tear gas increased drastically. People trying to get to their homes were trapped, so we tried to help as many people as possible. There was group on MeÅŸrutiyet and others on almost every street that crosses the boulevard; and there were small fires on every street. However unlike what the press claims, it wasnâ€™t the violence of the people that caused the police to use gas, but the other way around. At certain moments, it was impossible to be on the streets, so we went into restaurants that opened their doors for us. For almost four hours, we dealt with the tear gas and helped people.
Around 20.00, we went back to the boulevard, after getting a message from a large group of friends that they were also in KÄ±zÄ±lay. We heard a gas bomb exploding, and thought that it was tear gas also. But this was something else, it wasnâ€™t just burning our eyes but I remember my eye lids going numb. A girl sprayed milk on my face and my eyes and told me to keep them open for a while.
With the shock of the events, I tried to keep them open for a very long time thinking that I would go blind. After a minute or so, a guy came with talcid water and managed to calm me down. Itâ€™s not just physical pain that puts people into stress but also the images they have in their heads. Iâ€™ve read the day before that the police would start using orange agent that day and if one drinks water after breathing the chemical, he would be paralysed. So even the gas itself doesnâ€™t do that much, the fear of it blocks one from moving. We are still not sure what that gas was, probably not orange agent, but when I saw my friend she told me that she felt exactly the same. After that point, weâ€™ve decided to leave, and come back the next day.
Sunday morning I had to have a really long argument with my parents to go to the center. After seeing what had happened the day before, they were nowhere close to letting me go. Iâ€™ve managed to convince them saying that I wonâ€™t go to KÄ±zÄ±lay, only to Tunus to help with the cleaning as people were doing in Taksim on the same day. What we saw when we went to KÄ±zÄ±lay was a lot worse than the day before. We couldnâ€™t get to AtatÃ¼rk Avenue at first (around 15.00). Weâ€™ve spend some time on the smaller streets but this time it wasnâ€™t possible to stay on MeÅŸrutiyet Avenue either. Because it wasnâ€™t just the police throwing gas, so was the civil police. At first we werenâ€™t aware of this and were walking down MeÅŸrutiyet with a large group. Then we started having gas bombs in the middle of the streets. When we looked up, there werenâ€™t any helicopters but people on the roofs of the building and on footbridges throwing gas.
Realizing that it was a greater threat to be surrounded by buildings, we went to the boulevard on which the police can throw gas only from two directions. That day I have experienced something I thought would never happen, at least not in Turkey. For days we knew that violence had reached incredible levels and the police was attacking people; not to stop them but to kill them. What was different on that day was that I saw two groups of police lines like the day before. One was located a couple of hundred meters away from us on upper MeÅŸrutiyet Avenue and the other one at the same distance below. The latter was throwing gas at least three, four times a minute, synchronized with the people on top stories of the buildings so that a group running away from one is forced to be attacked by the other one. In between these attacks, the police were waiting for a few minutes; making people think that they would stop. Yes, no matter how violent they were, we were naÃ¯ve enough to think that they had a sense of humanity in them and that they would stop eventually. So whenever they stopped, we tried to walk down. And every time we started moving, they threw new bombs: not close to us, but on us. They knew that we wouldnâ€™t leave, so they wanted to â€œstop usâ€.
Around 20.00, we had decided to leave because after three days we could predict what could have happened next, and unfortunately we were right in our predictions. With the police located in two places; when the day light was gone the people in between would be trapped. They would have to run for their lives. Of course at that point we didnâ€™t know that the police would also throw gas into the buildings, and take the ones into custody who get out of the buildings in desperate need of fresh air. I was back at home when I read the news. Hundreds were trapped in stores and a mall (KÄ±zÄ±lay Mall). One man died in the mall and the rest has taken into custody. So many of my friends whom I talked to around 2 am, told me that they ran from KÄ±zÄ±lay to upper parts of TunalÄ±, trying to get away from the police, and that most of their friends were in custody.
I must admit that today I went to KÄ±zÄ±lay because it was impossible to stay at home for me. I had seen the video of people stuck in that mall and all I was wishing for when I went to KÄ±zÄ±lay was to avoid getting arrested. It wasnâ€™t the custody that bothered me but I knew I would be horribly injured by the cops if they were to catch me.
The greatest problem with Ankara is that people are not organized. We kept hearing the news from Ä°stanbul about how the Ã‡arÅŸÄ± group â€œwonâ€ Taksim and that the police had to leave. We donâ€™t have that sort of organization of in Ankara. And since it is the capital, the security measures are a lot higher than that in Ä°stanbul. So many people in so tiny groups (even a hundred is small in such a case) are trying to walk to the Congress House or to GÃ¼venpark. On the prior days it was better, but today since it was Monday, most people went to work and smaller number of people in resistance is always a bad thing.
The agenda of the police was obvious. They knew that the groups would be even smaller and they should better get rid of them before they get larger after 18.00, after the end of the labour time. We got to KÄ±zÄ±lay around 16.00, and were walking down to Karanfil Street. We could smell the gas and a minute later saw the gas bomb a hundred meters away from us. When we tried to go back, we ran into people telling us not to because there also was a gas bomb. Realizing that we were stuck there, we went into a cafÃ©. The first thing we saw when we entered was a man lying on the floor held by a few others. His leg was bleeding; apparently it was broken so badly that his lower leg bone was out in the open. We had been later informed that he had been hit by a gas bomb on his leg. He needed an ambulance immediately but we knew that if we were to call an ambulance the police would locate us and come to take us all. We tried to contact the people whose numbers we got from the social media. We shared on Facebook that we were trapped and that there was a man in need of a doctor. In a short while we heard the ambulance but it couldnâ€™t get close at first because the police was still throwing gas bombs outside. Finally the ambulance took the injured man.
Some people were checking if it was okay (I cannot say safe, because nowhere was safe) to go out. We thought of every direction we could go but there were police forces everywhere. We could hear the helicopters passing. I think we spent longer than an hour in that cafÃ©. The owner told us to act like his customers â€“ meaning hide our backpacks filled with masks, vinegar, lemons, tissues and scarves, remove our masks and most importantly get rid of our looks filled with hatred towards the cops. He told us that in the last couple of days, the police came into the cafe and because they donâ€™t have the warrant to take the customers of a cafÃ© under custody, they walked out. It didnâ€™t sound really convincing that the police forces actually obeyed the law, but it wasnâ€™t like we had another chance rather than doing what the owner just proposed us. So we did our best to pretend. We even ordered tea and put backgammon on the table, I even remember my friend calling the waiter to ask for dice for we thought that the police may discover our cover.
They threw tear gas into the cafÃ©, not directly the inside of it but into the separate entrance part. It was getting harder to breathe nonetheless, and we knew that we had to get out. People coming from outside and the posts on the social media were saying that going to KÄ±zÄ±lay was very risky and it was held by the cops â€“ they were arresting everyone on the streets â€“ and that we should go to SÄ±hhiye. Putting on our masks back on; we got out of the cafÃ©. We had to pass Ziya GÃ¶kalp Avenue. The police was standing really close to us (at most a meter or two away). Luckily their backs were turned. They were shooting at a group on the other side. We ran for the next fifteen minutes and managed to get to Tunus Street. Having the Bilkent bus cancelled, I took the cab to BahÃ§eli and came back to Bilkent by the bus.