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article imageInterview with a Turkish protester: 'police tortured me' Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Jun 7, 2013 in World
Handcuffed and kneeling, a young Turkish man was repeatedly hit in the face by four police officers as they saturated his eyes with pepper spray.
"'I will rape your Christian wife one hour later,' one of the police officers told me. I was kneeling on the first level of the police station floor—where there is no surveillance camera. About four officers were gathered around me. They kicked me in the ribs. They kept beating me on the head and face with their fists. Then one of them sprayed tear gas into my eyes. The pepper spray made my whole face red. But I wouldn't be quiet like they told me."
He paused, and I could hear my own breathing. The tall, rather thin man who sat across from me slumped a little in his seat. He wore jeans and a white t-shirt, his only jewelry a simple wedding ring. This man was not educated at a university. His training was as a security guard or as crew for a fishing boat. His forearm showed slash marks from a street fight he got into a few years ago. He also had a scar on his chin. As if he could read my thoughts, he lowered his voice and stated,
"I'm not a bad mad. Before I got married, I used to drink too much alcohol sometimes. I haven't been able to find a good job in Turkey. A lot of my friends, who didn't get a university license, walk the streets. They look for jobs, drink tea at the men's cafeteria, bet on the sports teams, find something to do. If you're not a member of the Ak Party, you don't get a job reference."
"When did the police beat you?" I asked.
"Over a year ago, when my wife and I were first married, some Ak Party people called the police on me for demanding why they took videos of my wife at a work party. She's a foreigner, an English teacher. Why she married me, I'll never understand. I teach her things about Turkey, and we dream about going to America. But an American visa is difficult to get if you don't have money and a house in America. She has no family to help her there. English teachers don't make much money in Turkey. She hasn't even been able to go home for a visit."
"It must be difficult for you two," I observed as I wrote in my notebook.
"Some of my religious friends don't like that I married a Christian," he admitted. "But my mother, who is a good Muslim and wears the turban, has given my wife her heart, homemade Turkish food, and even her apartment to live in. We're poor. My father is retired, and my mother works as a part-time cook. We're a big Turkish family with roots near the Black Sea, like Erdogan," he paused, laughing.
"Why did you join the protests?" I asked.
"I marched with the people of my hometown, Izmit. My friends were all there. We went to the Ak Party headquarters. It has a yellow lightbulb as its symbol above the tall building. But it keeps the people in darkness. Erdogan lets his soldiers, the Turkish police, torture the people. So many men, teenagers, and even women have been beaten by the police. In Turkish, we call it işkence.
Işkence (pronounced "ishkanjya") means torture.
"Do you think the protests will make him stop?" I asked.
"I don't know. I would still be in jail if my wife wasn't American. Erdogan fears that American passport. He wants to look good to his friend Obama. Since he came back from Africa, he has been making big speeches to his Islamist followers. He imprisoned the top army officers who followed Ataturk. I don't think Erdogan will back down. Dark days are coming."
A young protester visits Mustafa Kemal Ataturk s tomb  Anitkabir  in Ankara  Turkey
A young protester visits Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's tomb, Anitkabir, in Ankara, Turkey
More about Interview, Turkey, Protester, gezi park, Taksim
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