Over the last week, the social media portrait of Turkish protest painted by a single hashtag, #OccupyGezi, has been a violent collage, all streets obscured by clouds of tear gas and pepper spray, and police officers spraying more of it in people's faces at point-blank range. That and the beatings and the politics are making sure this uprising and subsequent human crackdown won't look any better anytime soon. But look closer, and you'll see police spraying down and abusing another kind of accidental protestor: the dogs of Occupy Gezi, the awful suffering of which are now on display for the rest of the world to see.
This confused pup, and the protesters trying to get the tear gas out of its eyes, broke the Internet's heart on Tuesday afternoon:
Protesters in Turkey helping a dog affected by tear gas. twitter.com/Fascinatingpic…— Fascinating Pictures (@Fascinatingpics) June 4, 2013
A similar scene (and similar pup getting some treatment) was tweeted out two days earlier:
This pup's owner took preventative measures:
The obvious question: Why are these animals getting facefuls of toxic fumes? Some of them may be stray dogs, which explains why they might be in the middle of a violent protest in the middle of major cities. But these are still just dogs. They have no clue about the disproportionate and violent police response that happened a week ago, nor do they have any political yearning about the green space of Taksim Square.
It looks like the police don't seem to care, if this photo from Twitter user @CoriJane1 — of a dog getting hosed by either way or pepper spray, by a human — is any indication.... (WARNING: these next photos are graphic and show animals being harmed — scroll down until you see red asterisks if you'd like to skip over them.)
That photo looks like it may belong to this larger set, wherein a photo, purportedly of a dog being kicked by a police officer, is also shown:
Not unlike some protests during the Arab Spring, it's hard to verify where each of these photos is taking place and who's taken the original photos. And that's been made doubly difficult with the lack of coverage by Turkish media. Other than photos on the major international newswires and international news agencies on the ground, these mysterious, uncredited, uncaptioned images floating around on social media are some of the only ones available for a sense of what's currently going on across the country. This cloudy, smoky image of deserted ruin was the scene in a part of Istanbul on Monday:
This is purportedly a group of journalists who now have to wear gas masks to report on the riots:
And this video reportedly shows police attacking protesters in the town of Izmir. (WARNING: this, too, is graphic.)
By no means do sad photos of dogs take away from the brutality human protesters have documented, but they do give us a better idea of just how chaotic things have gotten since the protests began on May 28.
Update 8:08 a.m. Eastern: a savvy commenter pointed out that a photo tweeted that purportedly showed a police officer spraying a dog in the face with pepper spray may not actually be from Turkey. We've taken that photo down. That doesn't necessarily make us feel better (as it seems the spraying actually happened) but it shows the viral nature of these photos, this protest, and the trouble with verifying images on social media.