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Civil Disobedience or Terrorists in Gezi Park, Istanbul? Which side is responsible for the rising events?

  • Written by Website Editor

Just as the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wanted to add a new project to the previous and ongoing great projects under his government such as Hasan Keyf Dam Project, Allianoi / Bergama Dam, the Black Sea – Marmara Channel (the Plinius Channel), a third airport and a third Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul for the economically developing Turkey,

we are shocked by the happenings about the relevant citizens and residents, environment and nature lovers wanting to be involved in such projects thus their opinions be asked for regarding the protection of important cultural heritages, and the interests of social participation: On Friday a group of protesters gathered in Taksim Square, the heart of Istanbul, demonstrating against the project of a construction of a shopping mall in Ottoman style in the Gezi Park where trees were to be cut.

A weekend that was never seen before in Turkey started with panzers using water cannons, tear gas bombs thrown and batons hit extremely violently by the law enforcement officers under the Justice and Development Party government in order to empty the area. The operation of emptying the area turned quickly into a street battle, and the excessive use of tear gas affected even the farthest regions’ peoples, sidewalk stones were removed and thrown around, barriers were set up in Istanbul streets. The situation went very quickly out of control. Like an uncontrollable fire, aggressive police actions photos partly spread across the social networks, people with increasing number marched to Taksim. Here the subject matter is not just the planned construction project. The society started to increase its voice against the current sensitive matters: restriction on the sales of alcoholic drinks, arrests of many journalists on no legal grounds, restrictions on many people’s personal freedoms who are of different religious believes, people thinking politically otherwise being fed up are the clearest examples.

Protests spread rapidly in other cities of Turkey when the information was shared about 60 people were arrested and on the social networks, and over 100 people were wounded. Law enforcement officers reacted again with tear gas and violence, and the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said in his statement that the construction projects in Gezi Park would be carried on in spite of the protests against them. Is he obstinate? Why is there no policy of detente, or why do the law enforcement officers step back? Firstly the peaceable demonstrators are beaten brutally, as the photos obviously prove. Is it so difficult to find the right way, or invite people to negotiations or discussions? Only that way the events can be stopped from rising. Would not this be wished if people asked themselves?
Turkey’s political management finds it this difficult to come to an agreement with its own public? Even though 50% of the public elected him to be in force legally, the other 50% of the public, wanting their rights, would not, in any way whatsoever, obey that accumulation of power of those who have political power. Other people have the right to be listened to, too. Why does the Justice and Development Party, thus Erdoğan’s Government, not knowing how to treat those who think differently (the opposites) as is due? Why do his moral considerations make a standard for everything? Did he loose his line of vision into the real life? Most of those who criticize him have been warning him for years, they see an increasing conflict potential that may or will divide the public.

How can a person demand from his own country’s people, by forcing them, to not drink alcohol, or tell them where they should drink? Also, the alcohol consumption in Turkey is a problem only among the tourists, and if there is any, the alcohol consumption per person in Turkey is quite low. How can a prime minister say something like that publicly? Whoever wants to drink alcohol will drink it at their homes, he could say. Is this free will or should it be associated with civil liberties or civil law? This that is wanted to be done is a regulation or the citizens who are over 18 years old are wanted to be placed under a guardianship? Erdoğan’s Government starts to make its own value judgments a ground to place the state’s practices on.
We knowingly examined the Turkish media, and there was almost no news about the latest happenings. Have all of them become so agreeable to show no news? However, social networks really rendered a broadcast service. Statements are being documented, photos are broadcast online. And usually photos do not lie. If they are especially taken currently, they never lie. It is already so bad to see panzers with water cannons, police officers with tear gases and batons treat the protesters so violently already crawling in bloody streets. The point here is that the citizens, which really should be underlined, are tracked to the private homes, they took refuge in and beaten there, but how? Because, they are not from those people who created chaos in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and other cities at the weekend. They are just the citizens of the relevant regions and cities.

They are people who have so far kept silent against and tolerated everything. This really seems to be like a tyranny which does not care about the people’s opinions that live in the country even though those people elected. This tyranny wants to change the city and the country greatly, thereby causing an unwanted situation. The press and the television broadcasts manipulate according to the Justice and Development Party, and the demonstrators whose organs are broken down, whose heads bleed are held responsible and guilty: “If you had not demonstrated against, these would not have happened!” 
We as a cultural portal discussed at length always as a whole about whether to stay out of the politics or not. If this satisfaction of power will not stop, even worse threats will appear. The government builds a whole new Istanbul by bridges, streets, tunnels, channels, even by the new channel project between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, without asking the public for their opinion about all of those. The opposite party members are tracked and sent to prison, the journalists are intimidated or arrested, and those who think otherwise are threatened. As a consequence, a great breakdown occurs among the public living in the country. Is this the political goal? Is the right to make a common decision in Turkey violated like this? What is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s popularity? Will not his popularity be broken completely in front of the public world at least?

It is in his power to draw the law enforcement officers back, to stop the happenings, and to sit around a table and talk with the people in his country. We excitedly hear the news about the arrested people over a thousand, the wounded people over a hundred, and even those who lost their lives. Is this the price to be paid of the application of actually positive thoughts?

It is not too late to stop the incidents. If the government hopes that increasing the number of law enforcement officers who already act excessively will finish the protests, and that thereby “normal citizens” will keep away from the protesters, it will only cause the tension to spread up to higher levels. What goes on in the streets is the protest of the citizens, among which are even Erdoğan’s own voters. They are not terrorists; even if among them there are people who want to use the opportunity to cause chaos and damage by acting without a plan, they are only the citizens in the streets and avenues. The time to listen to what they say has already come!

As early as Saturday, President Gül and the Prime Minister Erdoğan appeared to understand the significance of the situation. President Gül himself confessed that the law enforcement officers responded to the demonstrators disproportionately. Therefore, the law enforcement officers moved away from around the Gezi Park. But, did the government understand anyhow that the matter was not just the Gezi Park? Why are there still responses in Izmir and Ankara as before?

As in the past, the government does not find it necessary to respect the opposite parties, unions, experts and even the citizens, trusting in the majority that it has in the parliament because the Gezi Park project should be maintained. Erdoğan deliberately ignores the objections of the environmentalists and the traffic planners to the construction of a new Bosporus Bridge.
The demonstrators shout in many cities as follows: “Tayyip, look how many people we are!” The response from the government is quick but pompous and in a way that does not calm the protests: “If you come as ten thousand people, I gather a hundred thousand people.” Undoubtedly there are already hundreds of thousands of people occupy the streets. And such remarks do not really help calm the protests.

Meanwhile, the doctors set up emergency response centers, not only in Istanbul, for the wounded people to be treated promptly in place. The demonstrators escaping from the law enforcement officers tried to take refuge in the union’s offices and the unfamiliar people’s private homes. And many people opened the doors of their homes voluntarily for them. The lawyers saw too many arrested people in police departments, and there is still no sign of détente from the government. On Sunday some silence developed in the Gezi Park; however, in other 48 cities the protests continued. The doctors in the German Hospital in Cihangir, 300 meters away from Taksim, where many demonstrators were transferred to, stated that a 23-year-old university student lost one of his eyes due to a plastic bullet fired in a very close distance by a police officer.  Later became famous a woman in a red dress:  a police officer with gas mask on himself fired tear gas towards the face of the woman from a close distance. The woman in red was not a violent protester, she just happened to be there. Such photos are still on the air repeatedly up-to-the-minute cycles...

Currently news comes from Ankara about serious protests. Demonstrators in Ankara want to break into the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office, according to the NTV’s current news. Finally, televisions started to broadcast the events! Eventually, the media woke up, and got down to the business! The Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accepted the use of tear gas as a mistake on Saturday, and said that these actions would be questioned, and added: “Gezi Park is not a place where the extremist people can do what they want.”  Those projects are just an excuse for the demonstrators to cause tension. “Whoever has problems with the government’s policies can announce them in legal and democratic ways. I demand that these actions be ended immediately.”  President Abdullah Gül stated that the protests reached a level which creates anxiety. He asked the law enforcement officers for a reasonable reaction. However, the government did not give up on its decision despite the protests spread across the country.

Where are the calls of the European politicians for their Turkish fellows to act moderately?  Even though Mr. Martin Schulz called the public for acting moderately, it is not enough.
Where are Chancellor Merkel’s, Respected Westerwelle’s, Respected Claudia Roth’s views and comments on the matter? Where are the calls of other friends of the Turkish citizens we live together with? Protest marches for the cause in question only in Frankfurt or Berlin are not enough; it should be a cry spread across the country. The subject matter is “people”.

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