Though it paled in comparison to the throngs gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, several dozen protesters on Sunday evening gathered outside the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv in a symbolic act of solidarity with the Turkish people.
Holding aloft placards in Turkish and English and waving a black flag, the small crowd of human rights activists chanted slogans in Hebrew against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and denounced police violence against peaceful protesters.
“Enough with the violence by the state and the police,” they said. “Democracy or rebellion,” said others.
Asaf Nisan Guler, a young Turkish-Israeli citizen, gave his opinion:
“I’m speaking to my friends in Turkey who are out protesting; they are not afraid, their hearts are transformed. They are against oppression in their country. The way the government handled the protests was wrong, violent, fascist, illegitimate … all those things.
“I don’t think this is a Turkish Spring, not quite yet. Not like the Arab Spring, which was some sectors of society against others. The Turkish protesters are peaceful; they don’t do provocations … they just want the oppression to stop. I don’t see it turning into something like the Arab Spring. Turkey is, after all, an established democracy.”
The Amnesty International organizer of the local protest, Amnon Brownfield Stein, shared his thoughts:
“When you see oppression, it doesn’t matter if you’re Israeli or Turkish, gay or straight … what matters is that you see oppression and you want to stand against it. We hope to put pressure on the Turkish government so they will see that this is not some kind of internal issue; they should know that the world has its eye on Turkey.”
The police did not interfere with the gathering.
What began as opposition to destroying Istanbul’s Gezi Park, adjacent to Taksim Square, the police violence against demonstrators sparked mass uprisings nationwide, which were directed at the Erdogan government. Protests in Istanbul and several other Turkish cities wound down briefly on Sunday after two days of fierce clashes.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Sunday called for protesters nationwide to desist, saying their actions would damage Turkey’s global and regional reputation.
“The continuation of these protests will bring no benefits but will harm the reputation of our country which is admired both in the region and the world,” Davutoglu tweeted.
On Saturday, heavy clashes between rioters and police were reported in Ankara, while in Istanbul police fired tear gas at demonstrators who started fires outside the office of Prime Minister Erdogan. Protests were also reported in Izmir.
Amnesty International said two people were killed in the clashes. Over 900 people were arrested, according to the Interior Ministry. Medics told Reuters that 1,000 people were injured in Istanbul; several hundred others were hurt elsewhere in the previous two days of clashes.