Saturday, June 1, 2013

tear gas and lemons



I tell you, it's madness outside. These are photos I took in Talimhane, next to Taksim Square. A few hundred of us were squeezed into the little hotel-lined streets, which were littered with broken glass, teargas canisters, and pieces of plywood. Fires were set, barricades erected, and the police, silhouetted figures in the orange smoky air, shot gas every other minute at us. A smoking canister bounced off the pavement and hit my left knee, while my right foot received a direct hit. The pain was intense, but then I felt the burning.



It was in my eyes first— for a moment I couldn't see, then the stinging set in. I reached for Pedro, grabbed his arm, and we ran. People were chanting and dancing. More gas was fired, then the water cannon, then a canister flew by Pedro's eye, knocking his glasses off. We ran to another side street, where a guy offered us lemon slices for our eyes, wishing us a speedy recovery. Through blurry eyes, I could see someone being dragged into a clinic, others were doubled over, rubbing the lemon slices onto their eyelids. It's painful at first, but the lemons really do work— with the frequency of gassing that is occuring in Istanbul this year, I might resort to carrying lemons and a pocket knife in my bag.

Police were firing from every possible way out, making it impossible for us to get home, so we decided to find a place to sit down and have a çay. It seems silly, but what else were we going to do? The Eylül Cafe was serving diligently to protestors, trapped and frightened tourists, and curious residents. Seeing our raspberry-coloured swollen eyes, a young man ran up to us with a squirt bottle and kindly asked if we needed some relief. We showed him our lemons and thanked him, he gave us a quick smile, then dashed off to soothe others in need.



We eventually made it home safely, though many did not— people are seriously injured, and the Turkish media, who initially ignored the protests, is just now starting to cover the story. I was told by one protestor as he watched me sketch the scene, "Tell the world— you must tell the world what is happening here."

3 comments:

rosanominae said...

These scenes are painfully familiar. I have learned at least four ways to get relief from tear gas, despite the fact that I am a very peaceful person.

Anyway, never wear contact lenses in situations like that. Never, ever...

rosanominae said...

These are painfully familiar scenes. I have learned at least four ways to get relief from tear gas, and that's a sign of the times, to know such things while being a very peaceful citizen.

Anyway, never wear contact lenses to a tear gas situation. Never ever...

Cristina said...

So brave sketching! Glad you arrived home safe. This issue was in the news today in Catalonia. The world is hearing about this.