First Hand Report From the Clashes in Turkey

Taksim Square moments before the police attacked with tear gas canons and grenades.

Taksim Square moments before the police attacked with tear gas canons and grenades.

Joel Richardson

For the past twelve years, I’ve maintained a keen interest in the future of the nation of Turkey, writing frequently over the years about the re-emergence of this nation as a regional leader. My particular interest has been how all of this relates to the testimony of the Biblical prophets and how it will affect the mandate of the Church to share the gospel in this nation and the surrounding region. So I found it quite providential that a pre-planned trip to Istanbul to film for a forthcoming documentary by WND films coordinated perfectly with the events of the past few days as they have unfolded here in a rather dramatic fashion. If you haven’t been following the news, the nation of Turkey is presently experiencing massive social and political upheaval.

When we arrived in Istanbul on Thursday, we were told that the protests in Taksim Square and Gezi Park had died down. According to our hotel manager, it was now little more than circle dancing and singing. So on Saturday night, we decided to check it out for ourselves.

We arrived a bit earlier in the day and had a few hours to wander about the park and talk to many of the protestors; secular Turks, Kurds, professors, reporters, and everyone in between. Tens of thousands of people milled about. There were numerous families with children in strollers, elderly and even several in wheelchairs. The police had the park surrounded with highly equipped trucks and hundreds upon hundreds of police outfitted with full riot gear and tear gas masks.

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the storm.

An anti-Erdogan flyer in Gezi PArk adjacent to Taksim Square.

An anti-Erdogan flyer in Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square.

As the evening rolled in, some of the crowds began chanting. The confrontation had begun. Little did we know that this would be the night that the Islamist AK Party had planned to utterly purge the park. The police moved suddenly and rapidly into the crowds. If you have seen the trucks mounted with powerful “water canons”, I have something to tell you. They do not spray water. It’s actually some form of sticky, caustic substance, mixed with water. It took less then fifteen seconds after the trucks began spraying, for the entire park to be filled with a painfully acidic mist. The explosion of tear gas canisters began to thunder and surrounded us in rapid succession. Thousands were fleeing in every direction. There were many woman, children, and elderly caught in the chaos.

As teargas canisters surrounded us, I pulled out my iPhone and recorded this brief video:

Taksim Tear Gas iPhone from Joel Richardson on Vimeo.

Quickly becoming overwhelmed by the effects of the gas, we made our way out of the park through a side street, content at this point just to escape, but the police had the opposite end of every street blocked. They began releasing more teargas grenades at the end of the streets, trapping those of us in the middle. Some were falling down. I was not far from doing so myself. Unable to see or breath, with no where left to go, we pushed our way into a hotel lobby. Hundreds of others followed. My team made our way to an upper floor hallway and allowed the effects of the gas to diminish. Through Instagram and Twitter we were able to follow what was happening in other areas of the square. In one case, the police actually released teargas into the hotel. There were many children and elderly incapacitated by the gas. Some were hit by rubber bullets. It was a brutal crackdown. And it is only getting worse. According to the Islamist AK Party controlled media, very little of this actually happened.

This was not the response of a government that genuinely values freedom of speech, protest, dissent, or even the lives of its own people. The AK Party chose to punish everyone and anyone in the park. It was a genuinely brutal crack down.

But the protestors are determined. After being removed from the park, they took to marching on the bridges.

On Sunday, we were told that the AK Party was planning to have a rally of its own, so we decided to see the other side. This wasn’t difficult because there were literally hundreds of free busses shuttling people to the event. As we approached the event, the Bosporus water way that separates the Asian side of Istanbul from the European side was filled with boats waving giant Turkish flags. Rows of large streamers alternating between the AK Party logo, PM Erdogan’s face, and the Turkish flag, literally ran for several miles running up the events. As we arrived, the throngs of chanting supporters were almost crushing. We made out way into the heart of the event.

A wide angle view of the AKP rally.

A wide angle view of the AKP rally.

Throughout the day, we were asked dozens of times if we were with CNN. I’m glad we were not. The people there did not like CNN as was evident by the fact that every time the name CNN was mentioned from the platform, the crowds would all boo.

For a few hours under the hot sun, my team and I were literally surrounded by well over a million AKP supporters chanting, “Recep Tayyip Erdogan!” Others chanted AKP slogans or “Allahu Akbar, Tafir!

The platform. Massive images and banners of PM Erdogan were everywhere.

The platform. Massive images and banners of PM Erdogan were everywhere.

The AKP is a brazen cult of personality that revolves around Erdogan.

The AKP is a brazen cult of personality that revolves around Erdogan.

I truly felt as though I was at the Zeppelin Tribune, Nuremberg, Germany, 1938.

Pray for the nation of Turkey.

  • Pingback:Joels Trumpet Blog - Jun 17 - Israel News Report
    Posted at 09:36h, 17 June

    […] First Hand Report From the Clashes in Turkey […]

  • David Roberts
    Posted at 11:18h, 17 June

    Wow, that’s for sharing your testimony.
    That much have been pretty intense…

    Be safe Joel. God keep you.

  • Pingback:Joel's Trumpet | Prophecy Blog
    Posted at 13:35h, 17 June

    […] First Hand Report From the Clashes in Turkey […]

  • David W. Lincoln
    Posted at 15:53h, 17 June

    Quite the birthday present from you to me, Joel.

    I always admire truth, regardless of whose feelings get hurt.

    The funny thing is, I don’t feel that I turned 50.

  • good4u
    Posted at 16:21h, 17 June

    It is important to have you reporting as a genuine “reality check” to what events are happening there in Turkey verses what the state-owned Turkish media would like the world to think or even American cable news organizations who could be pressured by the White House to down play events so the American public wouldn’t understand the brutality of the Islamists under PM Erdogan. The world has a right to know the truth.

  • Joel
    Posted at 21:58h, 17 June

    Happy Birthday David. Cheers.

  • Lisa
    Posted at 22:11h, 17 June

    Wow, Joel. I’ve been wondering if you were there. How amazing that the Lord has allowed you to witness such pivotal events in the country for which you have had such a burden. I had the same thoughts when I saw the AKP rally – chilling.

    I am praying for you and the rest of the team, dear brother.

  • harrison4803
    Posted at 00:05h, 18 June

    I have a daughter that is living and working in Istanbul and her eye witness of the events in Gezi Park and Taksim Square totally agree with Joel’s report. She did attend one of the very first protest meeting at Gezi and told me that the water cannons are very scary! I have since learned that the cannon water is also laced with indelible ink as well as caustic chemical so that the riot police have better identification. Water cannons have not been used in the USA since the 1960’s. They cannot be used in the UK without Parliament consent. The purge of innocent Turkish citizens in the park was brutal.

  • Rich Dogaer
    Posted at 00:20h, 18 June

    Joel, It’s exciting to read your descriptions of the current events there, especially in light of the importance of Turkish influence in the end times. I thank you and Walid for opening my eyes quite some time ago to the deceptive diversion of Replacement Theology. I must confess that I feel anxiety for you or anyone else travelling anywhere in the Mideast. At this point it seems difficult to determine what will happen, when and where in any detail. Watch your back!

  • Gary
    Posted at 05:25h, 18 June


    Thanks for the first hand report! It is good to know the Lord is with you and your team and that you are safe.
    Prayers going out…

  • Julie
    Posted at 11:52h, 18 June

    I saw an Instagram that Dalton Thomas posted of the rally and got cold chills. Looked eerily familiar. Lord, come quickly!

  • O.A. Fish
    Posted at 18:28h, 18 June

    Thanks Joel and crew for spying out Satan’s stronghold (10/40 window). Inspite of the gaints you are wittnessing, with the Holy Spirit as our leader, we win! Many enslaved Muslim souls are going to be set free by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I would love to get more insight into the Spiritual awakening taking place in Iran? Will the recent elections make a difference? I was encouraged by your report on what the Holy Spirit is doing in Egypt!
    God Speed!

  • David Atchle
    Posted at 15:48h, 19 June

    Thank you Joel. Your insight to the going’s on in turkey have really opened my eyes. I pray peace and safety for you and your crew. Know that many back here in the states are praying. I would also like to thank you for your book, “the mideast beast”. I has helped me to see the truth. I find myself in prayer daily for the muslim’s. God, open their eyes to the truth. And I pray for the safety of Israel.
    God Be With You ALL!!

  • jean dean
    Posted at 01:50h, 24 June

    Hey Joel, lots of prayers going being lifted up for you and the team over there with you. Scary stuff!!!

    What is soooo ironic, is, just the other day I was looking at something that was showing Hitler speaking to the thousands, and I said to myself, Erdogan and Hitler look just alike. One has a mustache and the other one does not.

    Then, looking at your pictures you have posted here, I see a poster where someone has drawn the mustache on Erdogan, put the hat and uniform on him, and whaa-la, Hitler!!!

    Scary, scary stuff!

    Blessings to you as God continues to move mightily in and through you.

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