All Quiet in Taksim Square, for Now

taksim square, protests, gezi park, istanbul, turkey, unsustainable developmentCentral Istanbul looks like a war zone as shells of burnt out vehicles simmer after a long day of confrontations between riot police and anti-government protestors at Taksim Square yesterday.

For now the square has cleared as protestors have been subdued with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas used by riot police to disperse them.

They have since moved to nearby Gezi Park, where last week police attacked activists who had set up tents to protest against the development of a new shopping center at one of the city’s last remaining urban green spaces.

That heavy handed response set off a firestorm of anti-government anger that swept through dozens of cities across the country. Hundreds of people were treated with injuries and at least four deaths were recorded, according to the Turkish Human Rights Foundation.

Now Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims that “it’s over.”

BBC News reports that Erdogan has vowed to show zero tolerance for the people he claims aim to “hurt Turkey,” although he is said to have agreed to meet an actress, a singer and a writer who will mediate with protestors.

Taksim Solidarity, the group that organized the protests, claim that they have not been contacted by the Prime Minister, nor would they be willing to speak with him. They also say they do not know the team of three with whom he is scheduled to meet.

The United States and Germany have been critical of Turkey’s handling of protests.

“We expect Prime Minister Erdogan to de-escalate the situation, in the spirit of European values, and to seek a constructive exchange and peaceful dialogue,”  German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement.

Although the square is now clear, there is very little evidence that the protestors are ready to go home. They have been critical of Erdogan’s increasing authoritarianism and what some perceive as the Islamification of a secular state.

Meanwhile, the kind of development schemes that first catalyzed a surge of anti-government sentiments continue apace.

Here are five of the most unsustainable projects on the charts that are bound to have a long lasting negative impact on both people and the environment.

:: BBC News

Image via Wikimedia

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2 thoughts on “All Quiet in Taksim Square, for Now”

  1. aylin says:

    Hi Tafline,

    This is a message from one of hundreds of thousands of protestors in Istanbul.
    Thanks for reporting on the situation here.

    I wish to correct a few errors in this page:
    1. Taksim Square is not clear at the moment. There are still thousands of protestors in the streets and in the park.
    2. Taksim Solidarity did not organize the protests. They were a spontaneous response of concerned citizens and have grown naturally thanks to social media and word of mouth.
    3. The Taksim Solidarity Group has met with Erdogan already, on Wednesday.
    4. The photo of Taksim Square is sorely outdated. The square has already been changed drastically by the construction projects of the past year. We can consider this photo “historical”.

    Take care and best wishes from one of many, many, many people in Istanbul.

  2. george says:

    you should try the settlment of dispute by mutual concession.It is the only way to avoid bloodshed.MR Erdogan must be more flexible.

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