Things are not looking good in Turkey. A country which was up until now perceived as a democratic and secular state is now going through the same turmoil countries like Egypt and Libya went through recently.
So what exactly went wrong there? What made the peaceful sit-in protest turn into violent demonstrations and an almost-uprising against the current government?
Following are five simple facts about the Turkey Protests 2013 to give you a basic idea regarding the situation in the country and what the citizens are going through:
1- Non-political Gezi Park Sit-In Protest In Istanbul:
On May 28, a group of people mainly comprising of students got together in Gezi Park for a peaceful sit-in. They had gathered together to protest against the demolition of the park for the sake of building a shopping mall in the centre of the city. They didn’t belong to any specific organizations or ideologies. People attended the congregation with books and children. They spent the night at the park in their tents. The next morning, when the bulldozers arrived, the protesters stood in front of the machines to stop them from destroying the 100-year-old trees.
2- Police Brutality:
Everything could’ve been solved peacefully had the police not crossed the line by arriving on the spot with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray. People were run over by panzers. Tear gas canisters were thrown towards the crowd by the police. Dozens got injured when the police force opened fire at the protesters. The incidents of police brutality grew so much worse with the passage of time that John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International for Europe said, “Excessiveuse of force by police officers can be routine in Turkey but the excessively heavy-handed response to the entirely peaceful protests in Taksim has been truly disgraceful. It has hugely inflamed the situation on the streets of Istanbul where scores of people have been injured.” Also, this morning news emerged about the death of a human rights activist who was allegedly shot and killed by police firing in Ankara.
3- Peaceful Sit-in Turns Violent:
After the police arrived at Gezi Park, all the the gateways to the site of the protests were closed down by the government. But people constantly arrived in huge numbers to Taksim Square (where the Gezi Park is located) to protest against what by then had became a fight against government. Internet connection was also blocked in that area.People were being chased by the police but they kept on marching against them. The Turkish demonstrators demanded their right to protest, to raise their voice against something their believed was not right. Thoguh the government tried its best torture the activists, people and places around Taksim Square offered food and aid to the injured.
Amnesty International released a report following the protests citing more than a thousand protesters had been injured and at least two had died by Saturday. It also stated:
“Amnesty International kept its office, which is close to theTaksim area of Istanbul, open as a safe haven for protesters escaping police violence throughout the night. Twenty doctors are currently in the office and treating injured protestors. Other civil society organizations have taken similar actions.”
4- Fight Against Government:
It is understandable that the idea of building a shopping mall was not acceptable to the people. But there must have been some dormant (yet existing) sentiments that led the people to go against the government and its policies altogether. And there were.
Apparently the country is being manipulated and ‘dictated’ by the government under Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. Many conservative laws regarding abortion, alcohol and even the color of lipstick for the female crew of Turkish Airlines!
Following the protests when Erdogan compared the Taksim Square activists to looters, he was also labeled as a ‘modern day sultan.’
The people involved in the protests demand the right to live as respectable citizens who have the right to freedom of speech and freedom to take part in the country’s decision-making processes.
5- Silenced State Media:
Turkish citizens on different social media platforms on the internet such as Twitter, Facebook and Reddit are constantly providing details of the deteriorating situation in the country. They also claim that the state-controlled media isn’t reporting the protests fairly. All the information regarding police brutality and injuries of citizens have either been reported by protesters themselves via internet or by humanitarian organizations such as Amnesty.
The Turkish citizens believe that the state media is silent on purpose because it doesn’t want Tayyip Erdogan’s tyranny to be revealed. The demonstrators are requesting through online media to share the pictures and footages of the protests in order to spread the word regarding Erdogan’s negligence towards their rights and demands.
Turns out, the messages circulated through social media websites have so far been effective because Erdogan himself said that “Twitter is the biggest menace of the society.”
The stories of the Turkish protests are developing. For more updates stay connected to our website.
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