Wednesday, June 12, 2013

No Peace In Turkey As Protests Continue

Protest & Dissent

Escaping The Gas: “For the second time in 10 days, the response of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to appeals to listen and compromise has been defiance, teargas and water cannon,” says
The Guardian in an editorial.
Photo Credit: Angelos Tzortzinis; AFP/Getty Images
Source: The Guardian

Protests continue in Turkey, says an article, by Tim Arango, Sebmem and Ceylan Yeginsu in The New York Times; the locus of protests are Istanbul’s Taksim Square, which has become a symbol of dissenters' desire for freedom from authoritarian and arbitrary rule..

Arango writes:
Taksim Square erupted in chaos on Tuesday night as the riot police hit protesters with tear gas and water cannons, sending thousands of people fleeing down side streets, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey struggled to contain a political crisis that has threatened the nation’s economy and paralyzed the government.
For nearly two weeks, the prime minister has remained largely defiant, demanding that protesters leave the square, placing armed police officers on standby to sweep the area and insisting that the demonstrations were nothing like the Arab Spring protests that ousted entrenched leaders. But as homemade firebombs and tear gas wafted in the city center it seemed that Mr. Erdogan and his supporters had miscalculated the opposition’s tenacity and conviction “Thugs! Thugs!” a protester shouted at the police as she was shrouded in a cloud of tear gas. “Let God bring the end of you!”
The demonstrations began over a plan to tear out the last green space in the center of the city, Gezi Park in Taksim Square, and to replace it with a mall designed like an Ottoman-era barracks. Mr. Erdogan, who once advised the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to negotiate and compromise, sent out the police to clear the park. 
The tactic backfired, leading to large protests and expressions of frustration at Mr. Erdogan’s rising authoritarian streak. Environmentalists and conservationists were joined in the protest by radical leftists and street hooligans. Mr. Erdogan pulled back the police, but for days Taksim has been a sprawling hub of grievance against him and his Justice and Development Party. On Monday, he offered to talk on Wednesday — but then sent the police back to clear the square Tuesday.
And so it continues without any resolution in sight; it is now more than a protest against plans to destroy a park. It is now a protest, built by years of frustration and resentment, against a government that refuses to listen to the will of the people. That Prime Minister Erdogan does not get it, to use the parlance of everyday people, is symptomatic of all too many governments everywhere.

The situation in Turkey might be worse than it is in many western nations, but it is not alone in how governments today are either authoritarian or becoming more so.The protests might end, potentially by force on the government’s side, but the frustration and resentment will live on until real and genuine change is made.

You can read the rest of the article at [NYT]