Sun Jun 2nd, 2013 at 03:53:56 AM EST
I have a feeling the protests taking place in Turkey are going to have broader significance, but I also feel I don't understand why they are happening. The story I was getting about Turkey before was that the country was increasingly self-assured, and its economy was doing well. So I didn't expect Turkish youth to have the feelings of lack of opportunity or betrayal of expectations that appears to be behind the Arab Spring, the European anti-austerity protesters such as que se lixe a Troika, the indignados, the movimento 5 stelle, the greek Syntagma protests, the American Occupy, or even in Germany Blockupy. Now in Turkey it's #OccupyGezi (others talk of a Turkish Spring).
However, an apparently small protest has led to what sounds like disproportionate use of force to repress it, and a media blackout with reports of an internet blackout (incuding rumours that Turkish ISPs were blocking facebook and twitter, as well as warnings that Turkish police would use facebook to identify activists and crack down on them).
Some simmering political tension has definitely boiled over with these events. These are some of the issues:
Use this as an open thread to bring in information and analysis on the Turkish protests.
The protest started out as a bucolic sit-in, to judge by this picture:
So, how did it turn so sour?
This is a summary of the situation (and a call for help) from Turkish site Agos:
Attention! Turkish democracy needs you!
After a series of peaceful demonstrations for preserving a recreational area in Istanbul city centre, which is planned to be demolished for the construction of a shopping mall, Turkish police attacked the protesters violently with tear gas and water cannon, directly targeting their faces and bodies. Dozens of protesters are hospitalized and access to the park is blocked without any legal basis. Turkish media, directly controlled by the government or have business and political ties with it, refuse to cover the incidents. Press agencies also blocked the information flow.
Please share this message for the world to become aware of the police state created by AKP of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which is often considered to be a model for other Middle Eastern countries. Turkish democracy expects your help. Thank you!
Here is footage of a police armoured vehicle running over protesters as they hid from water cannons behind a barricade:
Considering the protest is superficially about felling some trees in an iconic park, the situation has escalated to a surprising level. Figures from Reuters (via Haaretz): Protesters defiant as Turkey unrest goes into third day (June 02, 2013)
939 people have been arrested in more than 90 separate demonstrations around Turkey and More than 1,000 people have been injured in Istanbul and several hundred more in Ankara; Amnesty quotes unconfirmed reports of two deaths.
Now, here's a video of protesters organizing to build a barricade. The video is being shared on the social networks in a boastful tone.
This is the kind of reaction the crackdown has generated
but all it has earned from Erdogan is bluster: Erdogan: For every 100,000 protesters, I will bring out a million from my party (Haaretz/Reuters, June 01, 2013)
PM says the redevelopment of Gezi Park is being used as an excuse for the unrest and warns the main opposition Republican People's Party against stoking tensions.