Learn from Wikipedia. In short: A peaceful protest to protect the last public park in Istanbul's center from being a shopping mall, turned into a big nation-wide demonstration upon unbalanced use of force (gas bombs, water cannons, beating) by police, leaving many severely injured, some killed. The prime minister, who's been governing the country as almost a dictator, ignores the public opinion, does not take action, and threatens the demonstrators. Worse, police violence and demonstrations in over 40 cities didn't take place in Turkish TVs, for first 3 days of the demonstrations which apparently have fear of the government, as many anti-government journalists are in prison, since the judiciary has been taken over by pro-government officials. Brutality in numbers: 11 dead, more than 8000 got injured. (Update July 2014 - 17 dead)
At the very beginning, Gezi Park protesters were less than a hundred, but the number reached thousands in a couple of hours when Gezi Park protesters were attacked by police. A quick survey ran online in June 2013 by Sociology students of Istanbul Bilgi University showed that protesters define themselves 'supporters of freedom who are mad at Erdogan'.
Researchers reported that %39.6 of the protesters were aged between 19-25; %24 between 26-30.%53.7 was never involved a street protest before. %70 didn't define as belonged to any political party, %14.7 was hesitant about it, only %15.3 felt belonged. Clearly, as opposed to claims of Erdogan; no political party ran the protest. %81.2 called her/himself as 'freedom supporter' (liberal), %64.5 as secular. Why did they protest?
Authoritarian attitude of PM Erdogan %92.4 Excessive police force against protesters %91.3 The invasion of democratic rights %91.1 Silence of Turkish media %84.2 Demolish of the trees %56.2 Involved because of the supported political party %7.7 What they want? Stop police violence %96.7 Respect the freedom %96.1 Asking for a new political party %37.0 Wants the military take the control %6.6 Military control? No, thanks! %79.5
How did PM RTE make people so angry? (The first 10 are from here.)
1) The constitutional
amendment they are trying to pass moving Turkey to a US based Presidential
system - This will give AKP another 10 years of electability. Convenient timing
as under the current regime Erdoğan won't be eligible for PM in next elections.
Restriction on alcohol use. It started as a bill for a full ban but under
public pressure was passed as "restrictions" (Bans the sell of it
between 10 pm and 6 am). Oh and did you know our national drink is now Ayran?
(Watered down yogurt) instead of Raki (anice based liquor widely popular in
Turkey). Yup cause Erdogan said so. Because 1.5 litres per capita a year, the
Turkish youth clearly needs to be put in AA. http://bit.ly/1aHmKY2.
6) Interfering with the freedom of Turkish Press. We have more journalists in jail than Iran. http://nyr.kr/xaIf3x
7) Imprisonment of the Turkish thought leaders with the "Ergenekon" Operation which accuses them of conspiracy against government. We are never told what specific evidence the government has against these people. http://nyti.ms/15v3We7
8) Building shopping malls and mosques in historical public spaces, changing the landscape without asking the public. http://bit.ly/1aPJXHI
9) For wanting to name the new Bosphorus bridge after a Sultan that the Alevi minority regard as a mass murderer. Think calling Berlin wall the Hitler wall. This is also example of insensitivity to public opinion. http://bloom.bg/18DlUwh
10) On top of
all of this our PM calls his own people drunks, marginals, the others, the mob
who should be hanged. What we see is our freedoms eroding under this government.
media is the only way to reach information in Turkey. Erdoğan sees it
as: "The biggest trouble of societies." Police raided into
private houses and arrested 24 people who were tweeting and helped spread the word (June 4th, 2013). (Update: Turkish government blocked access to Twitter in March-April 2014 for 2 weeks.)
13) Ruling party AKP has no
respect for neither historical values, nor its citizens. So
called 'urban transformation' projects demolished historical places to
turn them into residences and shopping malls. People who were living in those districts were
sent to suburbs of Istanbul where they were socially isolated. Two examples of those projects: Sulukule, Tarlabasi.
Not more than one month before Gezi Park uprising; Hatay was bombed (a city at south Turkey). 51 people died, more than 400 got injured. Media, again, showed
nothing about it for a long time. The attack was a result of RTE's aggressive
and war-calling attitude towards Syria.
15) May the
1st. Citizens if Istanbul encountered the excessive usage of pepper
gas at May 1st, at the "Workers celebration". RTE, as another
restriction of freedom of expression, banned the usage of Taksim square for the
gathering. You were able to
sniff the gas from your own house.
The idea of making this page started with the question "What can I do for Turkey?" (as a Turkish citizen in US) and spread itself to a notion to make people aware about what's happening in Turkey, why and how it started, what are the recent and underlying causes of it, who are those protesters and what are they asking for, and so on. More importantly, of course the main aim is to inform you about what can you do for Turkey! Me: Itır Kaşıkçı (29). Received Sociology & Psychology undergrad and Neuroscience grad education (MSc) in Istanbul. Currently working as a visiting researcher in Stanford Univ.