Posted June 2nd 2013 at 2:09 pm by
in Perspectives on Current Events

A Letter from Istanbul

The Turkish Media is silent about what is happening here. They only disseminate the Prime Minister’s speeches, and talk about the protest as if the protesters were the aggressors.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his speech today: “There is this trouble called twitter now, social media, in my opinion, is the biggest trouble for all societies.”

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“Support Gezipark” graffiti in Florence, Italy. Image credit: Stelleconfuse on Flickr

That’s why I am writing a blog post for this site, and why we are tweeting about what’s happening in Turkey. We want to have fair news. I want to be able to say what is happening here.

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Image by Elif Altinbasak on Flickr. Click on image to see her photostream.

After the police attacked protestors at daybreak on May 31st, the protests spread to 47 more provinces all over Turkey. Yet the police used force to suppress the new protests. Yesterday, June 1st, the police withdrew from Taksim Square, and so protesters got back in to Taksim Square and Gezi Park. But in Beşiktaş, a place very close to Taksim, the police started to attack again in the evening. They used dangerous tactics.

Police attacks continued in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and in Izmir, the 3rd largest metropolis of Turkey. In other provinces, the protests were more peaceful.

Police have provoked protestors in an effort to make civil resistance look like a movement in bad faith. But this movement is in such good faith that the protesters cleaned the attack area, from Gezi Park to Tünel, Istiklal Avenue, Taksim Square, and Harbiye. They built a mobile kitchen to dispatch free food in Gezi Park, using police barriers. The planned a documentary film screening, but it was postponed because of the attacks. They will host the film screenings as soon as they are able. The conscious protesters warned everyone via social media, especially Twitter, not to be wild or to undignified. They don’t want to be labeled as criminals. And what they did after the attacks – the cleaning and all – shows that they are really sincere.

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“Washington DC in Solidarity with Occupy Gezi”. Image credit: William Neuheisel on Flickr

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister doesn’t retreat from his Taksim redevelopment project, but instead makes erratic changes in his plan. At first, the government said they would to build residences and shopping centers. Then later the PM announced that they would also build a City Museum In Taksim Square. There is a very important building already there: Atatürk Culture Center. This building has become a polemic under Prime Minister Erdogan’s government. Atatürk Culture Center was being restored, but the PM has now said that it, too, would be demolished! This is such a surprising change in plans for us. It just arose all of a sudden, out of nowhere!

Do you realize that these decisions are being made by the PM, not by urban planners and experts?

Elif Yasemin Azaz is a student at Istanbul Technical University in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

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