Turkey protest
Lost vision: A protester recovers after being hit in the eye with a police teargas cannister. Ten people are said to have been blinded

After a draft bill restricting the sale, consumption and advertisement of alcohol passed by a parliamentary commission on May 22, social media users launched a campaign protesting against the law and emphasised: "We are not keen on alcohol; we are keen on freedom."

This slogan has been reinvigorated since May 31 in Turkey.

After the government decided to replace the Gezi Park in Taksim with an Ottoman-style military barracks and a shopping mall, environmentalists took to the streets to advocate preservation of the park. But the gathering stopped neither the bulldozers from uprooting trees in the park nor the police from burning down the tents of protesters.

Of course, the nationwide protests are not only about alcohol bans or the destruction of Gezi Park. The protests have emerged as a resistance movement against the extreme eagerness and willingness of the AKP authorities to establish a totalitarian dictatorshipm even though they have been "democratically elected".

People from all walks of life have been there: environmentalists, socialists, feminists, secularists, LGBT activists, trade unionists, workers, football fans, students, youths, parents and their children.

On the first day of the protest, Erdoğan called the protesters "marauders." The next day, June 1, he said: "If you gather 100,000 people, I will gather one million people".

He followed that on June 2 with: "Those who drink alcohol are alcoholic" and "Twitter is a curse".

On June 3, he threatened the protesters with those who voted for him: "There are 50 % of people [referring to his results in the previous election] that we are hardly able to convince to stay home.

"We will also build a mosque in Taksim. We won't get permission from a bunch of marauders."

When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia and became a catalyst for the Arab Spring, then-president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali did not call him a marauder. Instead, he visited him in hospital. When mass protests against Hosni Mubarak and his regime erupted in Egypt, Mubarak said in an interview that he was very unhappy and did not want to see Egyptians fighting each other.

It was deadly violence against the protesters that brought their dictatorial regimes to an end. But neither of them insulted the protesters publicly in the way Erdoğan has done.

As his insults and threats have escalated, so have the number of protesters and the incidents of police violence. Protests have spread to dozens of other cities, making history as the most powerful civilian, democratic and anti-authoritarian social movement in Turkey's history.

Critical condition

Police brutality has known no boundaries ever since the beginning of the protests. According to data provided by the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and volunteer doctors, there have been injuries in 12 cities. Three persons have been killed. 4,355 persons have suffered various injuries. Forty-seven people have severe injuries. Three are in critical condition.

Abdullah Cömert, a 22-year-old student, and İrfan Tuan, a 47-year-old worker, were killed as a result of police violence. Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, a 20-year-old worker, was hit and killed by a car driven at demonstrators. Twenty-six-year-old worker Ethem Sarısülük has been rendered braindead. Eighteen people have experienced severe head traumas. Ten have lost their eyes from CS capsules and one person has lost his spleen.

Even doctors who were trying to treat the wounded have been attacked by police. Officers stormed into places used as casualty wards and used pepper spray on doctors and injured protesters. The Turkish Medical Association condemned police violence against doctors. "Even in wartime, doctors are never to be attacked," it said.

After Erdoğan called social media "the biggest menace to society", police arrested 24 people in Izmir on charges of ''incitement to disorder and propaganda'' for tweeting support for the protests.

The climate of terror and repression have also spread to include foreigners. Seven foreign nationals have been detained on accusations that they have helped provoke the protests and a deportation order has been served on four of them.

The mainstream media have also failed the press freedom test of a democracy. While the big media corporations in Turkey did not cover the protests during the first three days, social media have revealed many facts based on concrete sources concerning police violence. So it is clear to see why Erdoğan cannot stand any form of free speech, especially social media.

Nothing to demonstrate against

An informed citizenry and a truly independent media are the inevitable components of democracy. But Erdoğan seems to hate them both.

When criticised for his governance, Erdoğan attempts to justify his policies by claiming that Turkey's economy is booming so there is nothing to demonstrate against. But Erdoğan fails to understand that economic growth without social justice will only increase the anger of people, which will finally result in social explosions.

So we can say that those demonstrations are similar to the global anti-capitalist protests that have taken place all around the world. The underlying reasons for those protests ranged from environmental problems, xenophobia and poverty to restrictions of social rights.

The mass protests that have erupted in Turkey can be interpreted as the local version of the global anti-capitalist reaction to the destructive effects of the neo-liberal policies on the one hand, and a reaction to the authoritarian and repressive policies of the AKP government that represents "a model for moderate Islam" against the secular lifestyle in Turkey, on the other hand.

And for now, there seems to be two important outcomes.

The tradition of mass uprising against political authority was unfortunately rather weak in Turkey as most people tended to see the state as "the father of people". Hence, the first outcome of the uprising is that May 31 has been a turning point for sustaining mass resistance against political authority.

Inspiration for next generations

These demonstrations are historic in the sense that hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets spontaneously and this has destroyed a huge taboo that was prevalent for centuries. The protests have enabled a revolutionary change in the mindset of millions of people living in Turkey.

But people have paid the price for this uprising. They have been killed, beaten, tortured and detained. But they have gained something which is worthy of all the pain. Honour and bravery that will be an everlasting inspiration for the next generations to come.

So the biggest outcome is the fact that people of Turkey have given up fear and embraced courage, refusing to see the state as their master and reminding the authorities that they will be accountable for all their wrongdoings against people from now on.

And the second outcome has already been stated by the all-powerful sultan - I mean, prime minister - Erdoğan: "A government that oppresses its people will lose all legitimacy."

He was talking about Egypt in 2011 and also told dictator Hosni Mubarak: "Listen to the people's voice and their uttermost humane demands. Welcome the will of the nation for change without any hesitation."

But when it comes to welcoming the will of its own people, Erdoğan has changed his mind. Instead of listening to the demands, concerns and expectations of the protesters, Erdoğan has preferred to repress peaceful demonstrations with brutal violence, provoke the protesters by calling them marauders, and act like a warmonger, implying that he could send his supporters into the streets to attack the protesters.

In other words, the legitimacy of the AKP government has ended with the dead bodies of three people, thousands who have been tortured and injured, and the 10 civilians who have been blinded by police brutality.

Uzay Bulut is a freelance journalist based in Ankara