It started as a peaceful protest against mall construction in Gezi park in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, and it quickly led to a full-blown protest – Arab Spring style – against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the BBC, the Occupy Gezi protests are continuing today into a third day.
Erdogan reportedly has said that the protesters are “extremists running wild” but if you look at the images of the people in the protest they hardly look like extremists – just every day young people looking for some change.
By yesterday the protests started becoming violent as demonstrators clashed with police. One witness on the ground wrote to Green Prophet telling us that Facebook and Twitter resources in Turkey have been shut down.
Police have been using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds, and more recently the police have started withdrawing as the protests grow in other Turkish cities.
There was a pretty impressive image of protesters marching from the east to the west side of Istanbul over the Bosphorus river.
Erdogan has called for an end to the protests and he promised he would push ahead for development in Taksim Square.
Young people in Turkey are protesting what they say is an increasingly authoritarian Islamic regime.
Some joined the protests in cities like Ankara to protest a new law restricting the sale of alcohol. Islam prohibits alcohol consumption, a tradition not followed by secularists.
Thousands are expected to be injured, including six who lost eyes, according to the Turkish Doctors’ Association. Some reports are saying that one woman died, but we have failed to find a confirmation on mainstream media sites.
We laud young people who demonstrate for the environment. Let’s hope that some of this brutality we are seeing now in Turkey will lead to some positive change.
For background, read these stories on Green Prophet to learn more about Taksim Square and what the original demonstrators are fighting against:
Above image of protestors on bridge via OccupyGezi