A brief encounter with a secret policeman in Istanbul

On my first night in Istanbul  I got tear gassed and then had an encounter with a secret police man. Lacking time to write it up properly here instead is my side of Facebook chats with a couple of friends back in Ireland after I'd got back to my hotel that evening and was discussing what happened with them. I've got into the habit of writing up encounters with the secret police - see for instance 'I still remember the First Time' and 'A Shell to Sea Jailing and a run in with the Secret Police'.  

FB Chat 1: Holy fuck - just had run in with secret police which I think I got lucky with. Got gassed and went back down very steep hill to tram station, I was coughing a bit and suddenly this guy starts chatting to me in perfect English and gets on tram with me. I was suspicious and sure enough after a bit he tells me he works as a policeman and tells me there are things I need to be careful about. Suspect they are pulling that routine on any foreign looking people they spot leaving the area. I was sort of smart in that I went to the sea before going back to the tram so he couldn't have been 100% sure where I'd come from although I also must have smelt a little of gas.

I'd have been in the right hand side of this photo, actually I might well be in it, was coming around that monument when the gas started. Yeah I think I also saw the people on the balcony who probably took it. Amazing atmosphere for the brief while I was there but boy they use gas in a scary way
pretty much fired it into every bit of the square and a good chunk of side streets at once so I'd to moved well over 100m before I was clear of it



FB Chat 2: Got the tram over to the base of the hill and hung around to see if I saw anyone I knew
then went I'll just walk up the hill a bit
and of course went all the way and into the centre of the square
the gas attack was massive and without warning - there was some booing from the far end of the square (maybe 200m) which I now realise was people booing the cops putting their masks on
then suddenly it was exploding everywhere in the square, basically every couple of meters grenades were going off
plus they fired it into the side streets - could have been huge panic and trampling - that was the scary bit
but eventually I got far enough out - at that point I was lost but found my way back down the hill by guess work
then went past tram station to sea to swap the card in my camera for one with just tourist pics
went into tram station and this pretty obvious plainclothes guy starts talking to me - not telling me he is a cop etc
gets on tram with me and after a while tells me he works for police - think he wasn't sure if I was in the square or just from the sea front so I just let on there was nothing strange happening
and he got off at the next stop (actually he tried and failed as doors closed so he had to go extra stop).

In response to 'what did he ask you'
where are you from (which is what everyone here asks first)
how long have you been here (also the next question everyone asks you)
then a little speech about it being a bad time to visit, how he is Afghan but works for police and how I need to be careful of the protests

I later concluded that his interest in me was in part because I'd said I was from Ireland and at this stage the web site of Ireland's biggest union SIPTU had been blocked in Turkey, probably becase it had carried a piece from a couple of radical youth journalists who were there for Rabble.  There certainly seems to be some other evidence that they were being actively sought - at the time they were providing very good English language coverage of what was happening.

A Turkish friend thought he'd probably been following me since I'd arrived the previous evening but this I thought less likely, in part because they would seem like a lot of effort and in part because I'd have hoped I would have spotted him at some point earlier.  I think the most lilely thing is what i thought at the time, that he was hanging around the tram stop nearest Taksim looking to warn off tourists.

WORDS: Andrew Flood (follow me on Twitter)

For my long analysis of Gezi park read Tear Gas & Twitter in Taksim - an anarchist eyewitness analysis from Gezi Park, Istanbul


I got gassed two weeks ago in

I got gassed two weeks ago in Istanbul. the place is a rotting gulag. so sad, I love the people there, and the culture is magnificent but the leader is a fascist pig.


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