The photograph was taken shortly after the riot police started attacking the protesters with teargas, water cannons and batons. After the initial aggression, they backed off for a while, only to come back in a few hours. In the meantime, the crowd that got angry because of the police violence, started setting things on fire as a response, and then they extinguished it by themselves. Some of the people that were involved in such activities like burning stuff and vandalizing the public space were believed to be provocateurs working for the state and the police, giving the public the impression that protesters are actually violent vandals and they need to be intervened by the police by any means, as part of an effort to justify police violence. However, these attempts didn’t really work all the time and protesters kept their stance by protesting peacefully, excluding those they thought to be provocateurs, cleaning after themselves, volunteering in the community, etc.
Turkey is witnessing the biggest anti-government protests in years. What started as a small sit-in to protect the trees from bulldozing to build a shopping mall in the last green space known as Gezi Park in central Istanbul has turned into tens of thousands of people protesting the authoritarian government and the imposing of conservative Islamic values on the officially secular country. Those values and laws are intended to infringe people’s civil liberties and personal freedoms. Turkish government attracted international criticism over the unbalanced use of power and brutality by the police against the protesters. Moreover, Turkish media is completely silent on the issues due to their fear of the government and Turkish people follow the news only through social media and foreign press.