Demonstrations in Istanbul

17 October 2016

You know you’re in Istanbul when you see the riot squad assembling in the city centre (even if they are looking a little casual). Our housesitting hosts advised us to take off in the opposite direction if we saw this happening. Apparently water cannons & tear gas can be the norm if the crowd gets unruly. So you don’t want to get caught up in that!

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This particular day we were sauntering down Istiklal Caddesi. An avenue renown throughout the ages for shopping, dining & people watching. Political demonstrators were starting to rally together with their big red flags in Taksim Square for their 2km march. Taksim Square is a common starting point for demonstrations as it is the location of the Monument of the Republic, commemorating Turkey’s War of Independence in 1923.

Despite the sensible advice given, we decided to stick around to see what happened. The protest turned out to be peaceful although their chants were deafening & the crowd was quite confrontational towards the police at times.

You can see the police were armed & ready with tear gas canisters & water cannons. I do question the speed at which they could react … you can see their hands are not free due to the way they are carrying their equipment!

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That evening we were on our way home, climbing up our 1km steep steep hill when we heard several shots fired overhead. It was probably one of the neighbours playing with a pellet gun but it immediately put us on high alert. That evening we were on our way home, climbing up our 1km steep steep hill when we heard several shots fired overhead. It was probably one of the neighbours playing with a pellet gun but it immediately put us on high alert. We automatically went into stealth mode & crept our way up & along the walled side of the road hoping not to draw any undue attention!

Two days later there was another incident closer to home. The Dolmabahce Palace (5kms from Arnavutkoy where we are staying) was attacked by 2 gunmen. Luckily the guards & police were quick to react & the situation was shut down pretty quickly. The locals are saying that since Turkey has joined the war against Syria & given the OK for the US to use Turkish airbases to launch strikes against terrorism in Syria … more violent protests have been occurring. Let’s hope this doesn’t accelerate further!

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