IMF Meeting in Istanbul Marked by Police-Protestor Confrontation
The Tsarist-era Russian anarchist gadflies Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin are widely credited with coming up with the slogan "anarchy is the mother of order." But on October 6, protesters mainly demonstrated that anarchy is the progenitor of destruction.
An estimated 6,000 Turks gathered near central Taksim Square in Istanbul on October 6 to protest the start of the International Monetary Fund’s annual meeting. Most of the protesters -- including representatives of left-leaning political parties and trade unions -- were peaceable. But the crowd contained the usual sprinkling of mischief-making anarchists, who proceeded to smash windows and cause other property damage.
Clouds of tear gas enveloped the area, as Turkish security forces acted resolutely to disperse the protesters. Authorities also used water cannon on the demonstrators. Games of cat-and-mouse continued to play out as riot police pursued protesters into side streets in neighborhoods bordering the vast square. The Hurriyet newspaper reported that shops in the Cihangir neighborhood were looted, with protesters taking mostly lemons in order to counteract the effects of tear gas.
Officials said they resorted to force because some protesters had used pepper spray and had thrown Molotov cocktails in the direction of law-enforcement officers. Fire fighters had to battle at least one large blaze near Taksim Square that was allegedly set by protesters.
At least 50 people had been detained during the confrontation, according to officials. A sizable number of protesters and police suffered minor injuries, mainly caused by the tear gas and pepper spray. One participant reportedly suffered a heart attack and subsequently died.
At the IMF meeting, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to the Istanbul mayhem while calling on delegates to rethink globalization strategies, urging closer cooperation among states in order to keep opportunities open to all. "The world needs to work more and think more on this issue," Hurriyet quoted Erdogan as saying. "We need to listen to the scream from the world, to the demands and the protests going on outside this hall."
Jonathan Lewis is a freelance photojournalist based in Istanbul.
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