Things are getting out of control in Turkey. Last year Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a shocking announcement for the Turkish people: the Gezi Park, a public place where many families spent their free time, would be leveled to make room for yet another mall. The park would be turned into a reconstruction of the Halil Pasa Artillery barracks (these barracks were build more than 200 years ago, under Sultan Selim III) which would be nothing more than another fancy shopping mall.
The park is not particularly famous for its landscaping but it is a place where you can still find some peace and quiet among the 600 trees, many of them 100 years old. The Gezi Park is in the center of Instanbul, just north of Taksim Square, and there are numerous other shopping malls throughout the city.
On May 28th, when the bulldozers and the machines were about to enter the park to demolish it (and it’s 600 trees!) many Turkish peope got together and stood in front of the machines, peacefully protesting. They put up tents and stayed overnight under the trees. These people did nothing other than standing up against the machines, they had no weapons of some sort to start a conflict.
From a peaceful protest to a bloody war zone!
Then the police arrived! The peaceful form of protest turned into a war with barricades, plastic bullets, gas attacks and water guns. Several people were badly injured and, sadly, some lost their lives. The police killed two young people standing in front of the tanks by running them over.
On Friday morning the police raided the protesters with tear gas and water guns. Twelve people were injured and suffered head traumas and respiratory injuries. Read here about the victims!
People from all over Turkey came to the park, many crossed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to show their support. And what is the state media doing in the meanwhile? Airing the Miss Turkey beauty pageant and other irrelevant news.
The social media channels are filled with photos from Gezi Park depicting hundreds of people hurt, bloody heads and on the tumblr blog dedicated to Occupy Gezi movement you can see a footage of a young man being shot in the head by the police.
On the #occupygezi stream on Twitter you can read messages like:
The turkish government wants to tear the only park in Istanbul city center down to build a shopping mall and they are doing it ILLEGALLY. So we started to stand guard in the park with out guitars and songs. They are literally trying to kill us here, for defending the only park.
Why did the #occypygezi movement turned into a bloody war?
People are trying to defend the last green space of Istanbul, a city famous for its touristic and commercial buildings. The park has become the last symbol of free speech in Turkey, a country led by a government that controls every aspect of one’s life.
The demolition of the Gezi park is a violation of human rights and corruption, according to the protesters.
What happened in Turkey?
The Turkish state has issued a number of regulations regarding the private lives of its civilians, regulations about abortion, cesarean birth – in May Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that abortion was murder and that he was against C-section births. Shortly after that, the elective cesarean section became punishable by law, doctors who persuade women to have a C-sections are threatened with huge fines. According to the Prime Minister, the C-section is deemed unnecessary.
Turkey is famous for being a moderate Islamic country, being a culture tolerant to differences. Many people wrote online that after the new government came to rule the country, good and honest journalists were thrown in jail, the army was dispersed and the political leaders of the country single handled many changes on the constitutions in order to serve their purpose by taking away many human rights from the people.
You can read more about the Gezi riots on AlJazeera