It’s been a year since the antigovernment demonstrations in Gezi

It’s been a year since the antigovernment demonstrations in Gezi


 Erdogan, by utilising 25,000 policemen wants to prevent the commemorative events

By Manolis Kostidis – Ankara

A year has passed from the demonstrations in Gezi park and the street battles that erupted across Turkey between protesters and the police, resulting in the deaths of eight people and the injury of 8125! There are large demonstrations planned for Saturday in Istanbul on the anniversary of the “Gezi movement”.

The reasons behind the violent episodes

The protest in Gezi Park, had started on May 28 by a few environmentalists, who opposed the destruction of the small park located just beside the central Taksim Square in Istanbul .

The turkish government had decided to build a shopping center, in the likeness of the Ottoman barracks that were located 100 years ago in this location, and already the municipal workers had begun to take down the trees that were in the park.

On May 31, however, the police brutally attacked the protesters, burning the tents they had set up inside the park thus creating an unprecedented wave of contestation against Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

3.5 million Turks for three weeks were taking to the streets of almost all Turkish cities protesting against the turkish government. The demonstrations and episodes were terminated after their violent suppression.

The persons “symbols” of Gezi

There are three victims that all Turks remember from the events in Gezi.

The 15 year old Berkin Elvan, who during the clashes, had gone to buy bread from the bakery in his neighborhood in Istanbul was hit in the head by a tear gas shell and remained in a coma for 269 days before dying. Erdogan claimed that the 15 year old “was a member of a terrorist organization”.

The 25 year old Ethem Sarısuluk, who was injured in the head and died after a few days, when a police officer shot him.

The 20 year old Ali Ismail Korkmaz, who while marching in Eskisehir, was beaten to death by police officers.

None has been punished

What angers the turkish society even more is the fact that no official resigned, while Erdogan declared that “the police have triumphed”!

No police officer has been punished either. The proceedings relating to these matters keep being postponed.

Despite the efforts by the Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, to calm things down, the Turkish Prime Minister the days of the episodes argued that “the protesters attacked and beat a woman who wore a headscarf”. At the same time he stated that “the protesters walked into a mosque and consumed alcohol”. He threatened with counter-demonstrations against the protesters of Gezi, and that “we can hardly keep our supporters inside their homes”.

To the present day, the Turkish Prime Minister’s claims have not been proven and the turkish media claim that it was a “propaganda” attempt against the protesters.

“It was a human response to the continuous violence, arrogance that has been going on for years”

“The real reason behind the events of Gezi is the incomprehensible, asymmetrical violence, the  arrogance, the aggression exerted against a handful of people who wanted to protect the park and the trees. It was an instantaneous reaction of the people, without any initiative or any organization. It was a human reaction. If there wasn’t this violence in the country, this indecent and arrogant behavior that had been going on for years, there would not have been such a big participation in Gezi. There were too many things piled up. The ‘glass’ had spiled”, says the columnist of Hürriyet, Ahmet Hakan.

A year later, in Turkey nothing has changed. Non-governmental organizations are urging people to protest in Taksim Square, while the turkish government decided to send 25,000 policemen and 50 armored suppression vehicles to prevent any protests against it.

Mustafa Balbay of the newspaper Cumhuriyet says that “Gezi is one of the most important movements in Turkey which is why there have already been 50 books published about the events that took place just a year ago”. He comes to the conclusion that “the government might think that it has managed to disperse the Gezi movement. But let’s answer them with a popular proverb:”

“He who sows obedience, reaps revolution”.