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What Is Happening In Turkey?

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  • What Is Happening In Turkey?


    Interview with Turkish journalist Ozgun Ozcer

    The riots between the demonstrators and the polece are still going on
    in Istanbul and 350 people have been arrested so far. The society is
    actually divided into two parts, those of the sympathizers of Erdoghan
    and the protestors for the Gezi Park.

    That's the unfortunate result, I'm afraid. Let's not forget that
    the starting point was the preservation of Gezi Park, a little
    patch of green in Taksim at the center of Istanbul, surrounded
    by hotels and consulates. The location is important because it's
    really where Istanbul's - hence Turkey's - heart beats and whatever
    happens there happens in front of foreigners (tourists, journalist,
    diplomats and so forth). It's impossible to hide anything. So at
    first, those brutal, really ruthless police assaults had bridged
    the social divide. There were lot of Justice and Development (AKP)
    voters that showed sympathy on protesters' demands (basically to
    preserve the park, to assure the freedom of assembly and investigate
    those responsible for the violence). However, the violence and Prime
    Minister Erdogan's harsh rhetoric sparked an understandable outcry and
    triggered more polarization: Those who wanted to show their opposition
    to the government took the streets asking the resignation of the
    government, which I think led the AKP's own electorate to embrace more
    their party. The Taksim Solidarity Platform, a local association that
    launched the sit-in, lost the control of the situation because it is
    itself composed of 116 small organizations. They did not have enough
    weight to guide the future of the protests. So the result became as
    you say, with pro-AKP that believe the police raids are legitimate
    and that a conspiracy was cooking. Yet, in the beginning, the protest
    by its nature was way open for the participation of AKP's electorate.

    Can we say that everything going on in Turkey is a result of the
    changes in the consciousness of the society and it confirms that
    civil society is already formed in Turkey.

    I hope so but let's not put the cart before the horse. Let's say
    that a certain legitimacy for demonstrating for rights and freedoms
    is appearing. I was at the park during the infamous dawn raid that
    triggered the first big riots, the thing is those who came after are
    also guilty of supporting those who have denied rights and freedoms
    for decades - For example part of them would be against the Kurds
    taking the streets and fighting for their rights. And will they stop
    accusing us of treason when next year we will commemorate the 99th
    year of Armenian Genocide? Let's cross our fingers they will.

    Can the breaking up the demonstrators from the Tkasim Square have its
    consequences? Can it become the beginning of general anger in Turkey?

    Yes it can. There is a lot of "anger" as you say. But anger will only
    lead to more polarization. The protesters need tolerance, which is not
    "good friends" with anger. Hence tolerance with Kurds who were there
    is not an easy task - the first politician to support the sit-in and
    even come to the park and stop dozers demolishing trees was Sırrı
    Sureyya Onder, from the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). BDP
    is the real political hero of the movement for instance, because they
    took a big risk as they are at the same time assisting the government
    to carry out the Kurdish peace process. This is something that many
    well-educated but very nationalist protesters that took the streets
    hardly swallow because for them BDP=PKK. So either they do swallow and
    show tolerance for once to minorities or there would be polarization.

    And by tolerance I mean gestures such as when the protesters that
    formed a human chain to protect those who were performing their Friday
    prayers at the park. This one was amazing.

    Is it possible to stop this movement or is the society firm in its

    The thing is: It's not a movement, at least not yet. It's a spontaneous
    cry that says "it's enough" about the government intruding the private
    life of individuals (on issues like abortion, caesarean, Erdogan's
    insistence on having three kids, reforms on education, the latest
    bill restricting alcohol sale to which you can add the crackdown of
    May Day demos). If it wants to become a movement, well, first it has
    to save the park from demolition because that's the starting point of
    the protest - it almost succeeded as the government did step back in
    the end. Second ensure freedom of assembly - for everyone, including
    Kurds, and for every cause. You can then start to build on that.

    Don't you think that it's a way to democracy, freedom? Will the public
    be firm and struggle till the end?

    Absolutely, the more streets are creative, the more politics will be
    innovative and open-minded. People now know that protesting is fun
    and demanding one's right is necessary. We already talk that a new
    "generation 13" is born, like the generation 68 across Europe. And
    yes there is a "but": They have to withhold themselves of being
    judgmental. Because there are plural and any attempt to pulling it in
    a certain side will create alienation and break the momentum. There
    still were beautiful acts of solidarity that tells me there is
    still enough material to create a more tolerant, more proactive,
    more broad-minded society. Isn't that the purpose, after all?

    Siranuysh Papyan 10:21 19/06/2013 Story from News: