The protests in Turkey started on May 27 with a modest resistance movement against the destruction of Istanbul?s Gezi Park and the planned construction, in its place, of a replica of the Ottoman artillery barracks that formerly stood there (which, however, was also to include a shopping mall). The Occupy Gezi movement has since grown exponentially and spread to other Turkish cities, largely in response to police brutality and to the inflammatory speeches of Turkey?s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The unprecedented scope and duration of the protests?and, even more importantly, the emergent movement?s pluralistic composition and inclusive political style?make it a genuinely new phenomenon in the ninety-year history of the Republic. As Cengiz Çandar, a prominent liberal journalist has put it, these protests represent ?the most serious and meaningful civil society uprising that the Turkish society has ever witnessed.?
Taksim Meydanı. Partition Square. Although it has taken on potent new resonances in recent days, the name of Istanbul?s throbbing central plaza commemorates a now-forgotten history, the function of the site during the Ottoman period as a point of ?partition? and distribution of water lines from the north of the city to other districts.
This past Saturday, police forces lined up outside of Istanbul’s Gezi Park ? the center of a three week protest against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ? gave warning, and moved in. In a matter of hours, the massive encampment set up by thousands
Ten years of majoritarian style AKP rule has turned Turkey into a polarized country, increasingly torn apart between contrasting worldviews and lifestyles.
The most frequent question I have been asked since the start of the turmoil in Turkey has been whether it has surprised me.
Author: Eylem Yanardağoğlu
The Gezi Park events in Istanbul have triggered one of the largest and most serious civil unrest in decades in Turkey. It all started as a peaceful sit-in protest in order to prevent the demolition of the trees for the construction of a shopping mall in the park, but excess use of police force turned the events into a popular mass protest against the government?s increasingly authoritarian tendency to suppress any critique of its cultural, social or economic policies. The police first intervened on peaceful protestors on the 31st of May when a small group of activists were sleeping in the tents they put around the trees they were guarding. The news of police brutality spread quickly on social media. The mainstream media however, looked away instead of broadcasting disproportionate use of police force.