Másová: Why is Turkey protesting because of a park?

People in Istanbul have been protesting against a decision to redevelop Taksim Gezi park, where it had been planned to build replicas of the military barracks from Ottoman Empire and a shopping mall.

After the police intervened against those demonstrating in the park using tear gas, the conflict changed its nature from initial protests against uprooting trees and park reconstruction, into demonstrations on inadequate police intervention, demonstrations against the government of Prime Minister Erdogan. On Friday, many protesters in Istanbul became the victims of repeated violent police actions that used water cannons, tear gas and physical violence against demonstrators. Protests supporting Istanbul have spread to the capital Ankara and other major cities in Turkey, where massive demonstrations were held yesterday, and where police also repeatedly used excessive force against demonstrators.

Protesters are mobilized and information as well as reporting on actual situation are spread mainly through the social networks Twitter and Facebook, as the information on current happenings provided by Turkish media is very little and insufficient.

Deterioration of the situation and unfading unrest are not the result of only one park in Istanbul, but became a turning point of much larger problems. People are rebelling against the Islamic practices of the governing AKP party under Prime Minister Erdogan, against his authoritarian leadership, corruption, media censorship, denial of human rights to freedom of expression and violence against citizens. Taksim Gezi park has become a symbol of defiance against Erdogan`s government.


Sabina Másová