At a March 3 Justice and Development Party (AKP) rally in the Osmaniye province, a man in the crowd unfurled a banner reading, "Beware of the thief," or "Hirsiz var." The unemployed father of two was promptly removed from the scene and reportedly beaten by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's bodyguards. The goal of the protester — a former AKP supporter — was to meet Erdogan and ask him for a job in person. The man didn't meet Erdogan, and was instead threatened by the police not to file a complaint regarding his beating. All he had done was display a banner, yet this marks a turning point, as he happened to be the first to protest the AKP at a pro-AKP rally. It may be an omen for what is to come.
A lone man was photographed in Istanbul's Taksim Square, strolling the streets wearing a jacket with "Hirsiz var" handwritten on the back with a marker. Since the end of December 2013, "Hirsiz var" protests have erupted all over Turkey. Several individuals have been arrested for screaming "Hirsiz var." After one protester's release, he asked, "Is it a crime to a call a thief a thief?" Needless to say, most, if not all, of these protests have been met with strong police reactions in the form of water cannons, tear gas, pepper spray and plastic bullets.