Ankara police start public diplomacy campaign for night break to protests
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The Ankara police adjusted its interventions in protests on June 4, following messages of restraint from politicians and an apology by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç on the same day. DAILY NEWS photo / Selahattin SÖNMEZThe Ankara police adjusted its interventions in protests on June 4, following messages of restraint from politicians and an apology by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç on the same day.
Groups of police officers spoke with residents June 4 in Kızılay Square, saying they only responded to provocative attacks by protesters who threw stones or other items. The residents said some police had used tear gas on them despite the absence of any kind of provocation, and some police hit youths for no reason.
The police’s new communication method appeared to be a kind of “public diplomacy” conducted on orders of their supervisors as the dramatic change of style came after Arınç used a conciliatory tone about the protests.
“For no reason a police panzer used pressurized water on me and my friends though we were merely walking on the street. We are not marginal groups. Please be sensitive,” a young girl told a police officer, showing photographs of the incident.
“We are just aides,” a police officer responds, while another was defensive: “Police responded only if some groups attacked at us.”
People coming from the Çankaya district into Kızılay saluted the police with applause as the security forces were just standing on the corners without intervention.
In a dramatically fast change, the main streets of Ankara – including Kızılay Square, where clashes had taken place for the last five days – have turned into a celebration venue with residents taking pictures in front of police panzers (TOMA).
At midnight, a police announcement was made: “We are all tired. Let’s disperse now. We can continue tomorrow.”
Still, this change in style could not be preserved until the end of the night or the protest, as a few persons from the crowd threw stones at the police later in the night. Eventually, the police used tear gas and water cannons on a group that threw stones and beer glasses in Kızılay Square.
“All day long, we are trying to tell people why the police had to intervene with provocative protestors who throw stones and glasses at us. But they are still throwing, you see,” a policeman said.
Small groups of protestors made barriers in neighborhood streets of Kızılay, where the police continued to fire water cannons and tear gas until late hours.