Today was Sunday and people had more time to protest here in Ankara, Turkey. Normally protests take place during the night. Kızılay is the name of the main square of Ankara, the battlefield, in essence, where the clashes between the Turkish police and the demonstrators are taking place over the past two weeks or so. But these are not mere protests, this is really a war. At this point it doesn’t really matter who started it; the situation has not gotten out of hand with regard to the protests simply because the police operations are already out of hand. The use of force and intimidation is vastly disproportionate compared to the number of protesters. Continue reading
What is happening in Taksim Square is not new to Turkey, yet this time the social, political and economic context is very different. The protests which began as a “green movement” to protect Gezi Park from being replaced by a huge mall, and ended up being anti-government and anti-Erdoǧan, constitute a benchmark for both the domestic and foreign politics of Turkey.
Fifteen, ten, or even five years ago the social unrest currently under way in Turkey, and particularly Istanbul, would probably cause the intervention of the military. In the past social turmoil had always been one of the things that preceded the military coups in 1960, 1971, 1980 as well as in the “post-modern coup” of 1997. Beyond that, the pro-Islamic policies of the government were also a factor that led the military to intervene as it had the historic role of safeguarding the secular character of the nation since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
Young people are once again leading the protests although in general the people participating range in age, class, ideological and education background. The numbers of the protesters may not be as significant as they could or should have been but the resilience of this movement in face of the brutal police crackdown has been remarkable. To be sure the Gezi Park events and the Taksim movement shook the Turkish political system so much that, even if political change does not come about, things can never be the same again. Continue reading
The protests in Turkey which started in Istanbul and swept the country have been ongoing for days. The occupy movement which tried to protect an Istanbul park from its destruction in face of plans for a new mall quickly turned into anti-government protests and riots.
This outcome has very much to do with the government/police reaction to the protests but it also shows the extent to which the Turkish society is polarized, not the least because of the “authoritarianization” followed by the government of late. It seems that the contemporary “Turkish miracle” is not only superficial but also an example to be avoided rather than emulated. The “Turkish Model” and the discourse surrounding it is now more ambiguous than ever. As far as the police’s response is concerned these images have little difference from the ones we saw in countries of the “Arab Spring” that Turkey was criticizing (still is) not long ago.
Among other things the protests show that economic growth is not enough to respond to the concerns of the people. At the same time it is obvious that the top-down Islamization and authoritarization of the society based on the wills of the “leader” do not remain unopposed.
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