Five astonishing videos from Turkey’s protests and crackdowns

After two weeks of demonstrations, police cleared protesters from Istanbul's Taksim square and the surrounding area this weekend. You might have missed the intense clashes, which left a number of people injured and saw police deploying tear gas and water cannons against protesters.

Turkey's larger political conflict is probably not over, and a new survey finds many Turks fear their government could be inching back toward authoritarianism. These videos, then, are not just a partial record of what happened this weekend but an encapsulation of the episode that captured some larger and important political trends in Turkey.

(1) Taksim from the air

This first video, from nearly a week ago, was taken by a small radio-controlled device flying over the square. It gives a sense of just how widely the protests had expanded over the area as well as the breadth of the police presence there. Though the protests and police responses ebbed and flowed over the past two weeks, think of this as something like the default of the last week.

(2) Taksim on the ground

Also from last week, this video shows clashes and police movements on the ground in Taksim, with tear gas flying and water cannons blasting. This, like the first video, is from before things got really bad.

(3) The crackdown reaches a crowded hotel

This video, taken Saturday night as police cleared the square, shows one of the more disturbing moments from the weekend. As NBC News and other outlets reported, police escalated from filling just Taksim Square with tear gas to firing it into the nearby Divan Hotel, where journalists and wounded protesters had gathered. The video shows the hotel lobby's occupants' shocked response as they attempt to find safety.

(4) Firing a water cannon into a hospital

Shared widely on Facebook, this video purportedly shows one of the police trucks that was combing through Istanbul this weekend pulling up to a German hospital and, though there is no apparent threat, opening up with its water cannon. Observers in the background shout "this is a hospital" as people within the complex huddle together.

(5) A Turkish riot policeman speaks

Being a member of Istanbul's riot police can't be an easy job this week, with public backlash so high. This policeman, seeing a journalist filming from the sidewalk, loses his cool and rushes over to lecture her. He throws his helmet on the ground and expresses outrage with the media, saying they focus unfairly on the police rather than demonstrators and that they are not right to criticize their use of tear gas. He shouts, "What else can I do, do you want me to fart?" It's not a particularly graceful moment but it is a glimpse into what it's like for the riot police.



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Max Fisher · June 17, 2013

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