If anyone who reads this article has ever been in Istanbul, they will probably remember the historical beauty, crowded streets, nerve breaking traffic and multicultural face of the city. What they might not have noticed is lack of living space and peaceful environment in Istanbul for its citizens.
As you may know Gezi parki in Taksim Square is literally heart of Istanbul and one of the last places that can be used by people as a green area. Everything is started Wednesday night when bulldozers came to demolished the park in order to build a shopping mall instead. The action was illegal and taken by without asking public’s opinion. The people who live in that area came to park as a very small group with their tents, books, children and started a very peaceful protest. Same night around 5am the police came and starting to attack people without any warning with pepper sprays, tear gas, water cannons, burnt down the tents and arrested number of people.
The next morning there was a bigger group in the park who came there to prevent demolish of Gezi Parki and protest the violence of Police. The more people came, the more brutal the Police attacked to the people. Let me make these clear. These people are normal citizens and they did not go up there because they were under some political influences, they simply wanted to say “This is our park and we dont want another shopping mall.”. Currently there are 87 shopping mall in Istanbul ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_shopping_malls_in_Istanbul ) and not enough green space. Can you imagine if someone try to demolish Central park?
Although the origin of the protests was Gezi Parki, today it evolved in a different direction and now people are protesting current government AKP and fighting for their freedom. AKP has been elected 3 times last 11 years and slowly taken personal rights and embedding their dictatorial rules over the country. Last week they ban the alcohol sell between 10pm and 6am, a month ago they change the law of selling after morning pills freely and tied it to a doctor prescription, again couple of months ago abortion(free will of a woman to whether having a child or not) has ben canceled. The government took complete control of the media last couple of years. Right now Turkey has the highest number of imprisoned journalists and politicians in the world. People who are criticising and joking about government on the social media(twitter and facebook) have been taken from their home. While Turkey was slowly turning into an open prison, the fear among the Turkish people grew and it came to a point no one was able to even questioned the government and its actions.
Despite from millions protests, the prime minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan called all the protestors “looters”, “alcoholics”,”marginals”, “sniffers” and “bandits”. Instead of hearing what public was saying he said,” We decided to build a mall in there and we will do it. Some couple of marginals and looters cannot stop us”, he even threaten people to hanging them on the trees of Gezi Parki.
While police is using excessive force, incredible amount of tear gas and pepper spray, beating up innocent people on the streets, more and more people are joining the demonstrations to rise their voice. The social media is the only way for this people to communicate and inform each other since the media is completely ignoring the situation and turning their back, acting blind and deaf to the crowds showing penguin and food documentaries, reality shows on the TV. During the protests the government shut down the 3G and restricted social media sites. The cafes, hotels, restaurants offer people on the streets their wi-fi, opened their doors to wounded people, old ladies put food front of their door, doctors, lawyers shared their phone number for people who needs it. First time in Turkish history people are united without questioning each others background,gender, political view, age. The bloody football rivals start walking arm in arm on the streets.
Right now people are still fighting and they need your help to spread the word around so the rest of the world should know, whats really happening in Turkey
Thank you for your time and reading this.
Stay free, strong and proud of who you are
- Turkish Protests Swell as Police Violence Incites Crowds (bloomberg.com)
- Turkish Protests of May 2013 for the Uninitiated (duruk.net)
- Interview with Turkish woman occupying Gezi Park (boingboing.net)
- Turkish PM Erdogan Tries to Downplay Occupy Gezi Protests (novinite.com)
- Anonymous joins Turkish protests with #OpTurkey (dailydot.com)
- What’s Happening in Turkey? The Guardian Doesn’t Know. (beyoungandshutup.com)
- OccupyGezi raises funds for full page ad in NYT or WP (indiegogo.com)
- Interview #4: Protest in Gezi Park, Turkey (norhetorike.wordpress.com)
- Turkish ‘Dictatorship’ Protested in San Francisco (theepochtimes.com)