A North Penn graduate
currently studying abroad in Istanbul was caught in the middle of a protest
that made national headlines Wednesday.
Carly Loper, who now attends the University of South Carolina and is currently studying abroad, witnessed the protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Square that were held in response to the government’s handling of a mining disaster in the Turkish city of Soma. Loper had just arrived in the country this week to study at Koç University.
Loper, in an email to Patch, said she and some students were in a café Wednesday evening when the street cleared and they heard shouting.
“Protesters started barreling down the street with the police not far behind. I saw one officer fill his rifle up with rubber bullets but no shots were fired” at that moment, Loper said.
“Street people and vendors tried to move out of the way, locking themselves indoors. Some of the owners were mad though and yelled at the police for upsetting their business,” she explained. “I was in shock by what we just witnessed.”
She said everything went back to normal and the group proceeded to eat dinner.
“During dinner, tear gas and water cannons were used in the square. We exited the restaurant covering our mouths and coughing our way back to the bus. Unfortunately, we could not take the same main street we used to get into the town, as many roads were either blocked off by police or looming fumes.”
She said the group eventually made it safely back to their dorms.
Despite the chaos, Loper said she was “not overly frightened.”
“No one seemed overly concerned and police presence didn't appear to be a huge threat. It was a little nerve racking, but I felt that I was never truly in danger,” she said.
“The potential power and outcome of these demonstrations is what is nerve-racking because they are unpredictable. The people are unhappy, so to what extent will they go to change that? And in return, what is the government willing to do in response? These questions with unknown answers are the most worrisome part.”