Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Taksim square

Turkish Erdogan Obsession? Why? and how sit-in progressing?
On a normal day, Taksim Square in Capital ISTANBUL is a mess of buses and crowds, a tangle of plazas, streets, shops and taxi horns.
Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is determined to clean it up and make it into a pedestrian zone, with a new mall, mosque and tunnels for traffic to move underground.
The outrage in response has filled the square with noisy, angry, determined protesters. At midday, the muezzin’s call to prayer now mixes with the chants of union workers and bullhorn speeches from the Anti-Capitalist Muslims. At night, drummers and singers agitate the throngs until dawn.
 Published on June 7, 2013 in the NYT: “In Istanbul’s Heart, Leader’s Obsession, Perhaps Achilles’ Heel”
After Tahrir Square in Egypt and Zuccotti Park in New York, Taksim is the latest reminder of the power of public space. The square has become an arena for clashing worldviews: an unyielding leader’s top-down, neo-Ottoman, conservative vision of the nation as a regional power versus a bottom-up, pluralist, disordered, primarily young, less Islamist vision of the country as a modern democracy.
“Taksim is where everybody expresses freely their happiness, sorrow, their political and social views,” said Esin, 41, in a head scarf, sitting with relatives on a bench watching the protest in the square. She declined to give her surname, fearing disapproval from conservative neighbors. “The government wants to sanitize this place, without consulting the people.”

So public space, even a modest and chaotic swath of it like Taksim, again reveals itself as fundamentally more powerful than social media, which produce virtual communities. Revolutions happen in the flesh.

In Taksim, strangers have discovered one another, their common concerns and collective voice. The power of bodies coming together, at least for the moment, has produced a democratic moment, and given the leadership a dangerous political crisis.

“We have found ourselves,” is how Omer Kanipak, a 41-year-old Turkish architect, put it to me, about the diverse gathering at Gezi Park on the north end of Taksim, where the crowds are concentrated in tent encampments and other makeshift architecture after Mr. Erdogan’s government ordered bulldozers to make way for the mall.

 

Kitra Cahana for The New York Times. Turkish protesters have concentrated in tent encampments at Istanbul’s Gezi Park, on the north end of Taksim Square. More Photos »

And there’s the hitch.

The prime minister has emerged as the strongest leader Turkey has had since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the republic — but he remains not much of an architect or urban planner. Like other longtime rulers, he has assumed the mantle of designer in chief, fiddling over details for giant mosques, planning a massive bridge and canal, devising gated communities in the name of civic renewal and economic development.

The goal is a scripted public realm. Taksim, the lively heart of modern Istanbul, has become Mr. Erdogan’s obsession, and perhaps his Achilles’ heel.

And it’s no wonder. Taksim’s very urban fabric — fluid, irregular, open and unpredictable — reflects the area’s historic identity as the heart of modern, multicultural Turkey. This was where poor European immigrants settled during the 19th century.

Taksim was a honky-tonk quarter into the 1980s, a haven to gays and lesbians, a locus of nightclubs, foreign movie palaces and French-style covered arcades. Gravestones from an Armenian cemetery at Taksim that was demolished in 1939 were used to construct stairs at Gezi Park, a republican-era project by the French planner Henri Prost that is like the jumble of high-rise hotels, traffic circles and the now-shuttered opera house on the square, named after Ataturk. It is a symbol of modernity.

The prime minister’s vision of a big pedestrian plaza, with buried traffic, is intended to smooth out the square — to remake it into a neo-Ottoman theme park. Mr. Erdogan has lately backed away from installing a mall in the faux Ottoman barracks that will go where Gezi is now. But he intends to raze a poor neighborhood nearby called Tarlabasi and build high-end condominiums.

Yet another of his projects envisions a hygienic parade ground on the southern outskirts of the city, designed for mass gatherings as if to quarantine protests: the anti-Taksim.

The real Taksim is an unruly commons in the middle of the city. Mr. Erdogan has already demolished a beloved cinema and old chocolate pudding shop on Istiklal (Independence) Avenue, the main street and neighborhood backbone into Taksim.

This is why it has come as little surprise to many Turks that Gezi Park was the last straw. “We need free places,” Pelin Tan, a sociologist and protester, explained.

A version of this article appeared in print on June 8, 2013, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: In Istanbul’s Heart, Leader’s Obsession, Perhaps Achilles’ Heel.
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What’s Happening in Istanbul? A delayed Spring upheaval?

So far, in the last 6 days, the mass demonstrations in Turkey are growing larger and more widespread to most cities. The Government has exercised utmost violence to disperse the citizens. Over 2,000 have been detained, over 1,000 injured and 6 died. Two of the sit-in were crushed under the tanks.

And this dictator of Prime Minister, since 1992 in the power seat, is lambasting his citizens as extremists and criminals, like all dictators. The syndicates are joining the demonstrators and the soccer teams too. Erdogan, PM is touring the northern African States of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, and promising to tame the upheaval from afar.

İnsanlik Hali posted on June 1, 2013: (I felt that I need to slightly edit this article)

To my friends who live outside of Turkey:

I am writing to let you know what has been going on in Istanbul in the last 5 days.

I have to write on internet: Most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.

Four days ago, a group of people who did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park.

Among them there were many of my friends and students.  Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. (This park was the location of an Ottoman fort that was destroyed by the secular revolutionaries in the early century)

There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood! The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees.

Early in the morning, the bulldozers started to pull out the hundred-year-old trees. And the people stood up to stop the operation.

They did nothing other than physically obstructing the machines.

No newspaper, no television channel was there to report the protest. It was a complete media black out.

The police arrived with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray.  They chased the crowds out of the park.

In the evening, the number of protesters multiplied. So did the number of police forces around the park.

Meanwhile, local government of Istanbul shut down all the ways leading up to Taksim square where the Gezi Park is located. The metro was shut down, ferries were cancelled, roads were blocked.

Yet more and more people walked their way up to the center of the city.

They came from all around Istanbul. They came from all different backgrounds, different ideologies, different religions. They all gathered to prevent the demolition of something bigger than the park:

The right to live as honorable citizens of this country.

They gathered and marched. Police chased them with pepper spray and tear gas and drove their tanks over people who offered the police food in return.

Two young people were run over by the tanks and were killed.

Another young woman, a friend of mine, was hit in the head by one of the incoming tear gas canisters. The police were shooting them straight into the crowd.

She has undergone a 3- hour operation and is still in Intensive Care Unit and in  very critical condition. As I write this we don’t know if she is going to make it. This blog is dedicated to her.

These people are my friends. They are my students, my relatives. They have no «hidden agenda» as the state likes to say. Their agenda is out there.

The agenda is very clear. The whole country is being sold to corporations by the government, for the construction of malls, luxury condominiums, freeways, dams and nuclear plants. The government is looking for (and creating when necessary) any excuse to attack Syria against its people’s will.

On top of all that, the government control its people’s personal lives, and this trend has become unbearable as of late.

The state, under its conservative agenda passed many laws and regulations concerning abortion, cesarean birth, sale and use of alcohol and even the color of lipstick worn by the airline stewardesses.

People who are marching to the center of Istanbul are demanding their right to live freely and receive justice, protection and respect from the State.

People are demanding to be involved in the decision-making processes about the city they live in.

What they have received instead is excessive force and enormous amounts of tear gas shot straight into their faces. Three people lost their eyes.

Yet they still march. Hundred of thousands join them. Thousands crossed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to support the people of Taksim.

No newspaper or TV channel were there to report the events. They were busy with broadcasting news about Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.

Police kept chasing people and spraying them with pepper spray to an extent that stray dogs and cats were poisoned and died by it.

Schools, hospitals and even 5 star hotels around Taksim Square opened their doors to the injured. Doctors filled the classrooms and hotel rooms to provide first aid. Some police officers refused to spray innocent people with tear gas and quit their jobs.

Around the square the police force placed jammers to prevent internet connection and 3G networks were blocked.

Residents and businesses in the area provided free wireless network for the people on the streets. Restaurants offered food and water for free.

People in Ankara and İzmir gathered on the streets to support the resistance in Istanbul.

Mainstream media kept showing Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.

***

I am writing this letter so that you know what is going on in Istanbul. Mass media will not tell you any of this. Not in my country at least.

Please post as many as articles as you see on the Internet and spread the word.

As I was posting articles on my Facebook page last night someone asked me the following question:

«What are you hoping to gain by complaining about our country to foreigners?»

This blog is my answer to her.

By so called «complaining» about my country I am hoping to gain:

1. Freedom of expression and speech,

2. Respect for human rights,

3. Control over the decisions I make concerning my on my body,

4. The right to legally congregate in any part of the city without being considered a terrorist.

But most of all by spreading the word to you, my friends who live in other parts of the world, I am hoping to get your awareness, support and help!

Please spread the word and share this blog.

Thank you!

For further info and things you can do for help please see Amnesty International’s Call for Urgent Help

Görsel
Taken from Occupy Gezi Facebook page. Also used by Reuters
Note: View Heartwarming Images from the Turkish Resistance. – Imgur

imgur.com

 Next in line for Nobel Peace Prize: Erdogan, Turkey’s PM 

In December 18, 2004 I wrote “Turkey: A Regional Power in the Making “.  In February 4, 2009 I updated my article “A Regional Power out of hibernation in the Near East“.  Another update is required because Turkey seems to vigorously and quickly act everywhere.

Turkey forgot the Islamic world for over 60 years since the dictator Ataturk snatched power after WWI. Turkey relied on its military to impose a secular state and emulate the Western culture in alphabet characters and in dress codes.

Basically, Turkey of Ataturk and the successive governments considered that protecting the “Republic” is first in priority, far ahead of human rights…

Ataturk wanted to shed away the image of backward Ottoman Empire that lost an Empire, extending from Hungry to Iraq to Arabic Peninsula, the Near East, Egypt and all Northern Africa.  The other Empire to the east was the Persian Safafid Dynasty that extended to Pakistan. The Safafid Empire was founded by another Turkish leader and opted to adopt the Shiaa Moslem sect as the religion of his Empire.

Turkey is part of NATO (this year is its turn to lead the NATO forces in Afghanistan), thanks to the cold war against the defunct neighbor of Soviet Union: Turkey was the main effective ally to the US in the region during the cold war. Turkey was denied full membership in the European Union after the Soviet Union disintegrated into “independent States” recognized by the UN.

France and Germany offered a rational for their refusal on the ground of Turkey not satisfying the basic social and political requirement of a homogenous member.  For 60 years Turkey had turned its back to the Arab problems, and decided to be allied to the USA, the State of Israel, and the Shah of Iran.

Things are changing fast after the horrors of Gaza and the tearing down of the mask of the Zionist ideology of terror, expansion, and apartheid.  Turkey was playing the fair mediator between Syria and Israel in order for the return of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Turkey was mediating between Israel and the Palestinians to render the life of the Palestinians under occupation more bearable during the peace negotiations for a separate Palestinian State.  Israel Olmert PM lied to the Turkish PM Erdogan before the barbaric re-incursion into Gaza.

Erdogan, Turkey’s PM is undeniably the most powerful leader criticizing the Zionist State for its genocide in Gaza. He canceled a joint military maneuver with the US and Israel. The US has nobody else to conduct military maneuvers but Israel in this region; the latest naval one is to last two weeks with objective to save Israel of mass missile attack!

Turkey, under Erdogan, is currently more powerful than the whole of Europe in the Near East for establishing peace, stability and equitable political resolutions.  Turkey is a self-sufficient, independent Nation and has ruled the whole Middle East for four centuries. Turkey has awakened from a long hibernation and decided to be a major regional power broker.

Turkey is demanding and acting as the main power broker in the Near East because it has interest in the stability of its south-eastern borders with Syria, Iran, and Iraq.  So far, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq were peons for the larger policies of the US, Europe, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.

Turkey’s current policies beg to differ: “no more war zones at my borders and in my back yards“.  The US and Israel must have understood the message clearly and loudly. The so-called “moderate” Arab States of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are cowering down and are taken by surprise to the emergence of the new revitalized Turkey siding with the underdogs.

We are not hearing anymore about the Turkish war on the Kurdish self-autonomous movement.  I wholeheartedly wish that negotiations are secretly and seriously underway with the Kurdish Workers’ Party for a peaceful resolution.  The Kurdish problem was used by the USA and Israel to blackmail Turkey.

I have a feeling that the Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran appreciate the new directions of Erdogan’s government and would find in Erdogan a viable interlocutor and would cooperate with Turkey to lighten up this heavy burden of a useless and fruitless civil war. The new policy in Turkey is to open peaceful negotiations with the opposition Kurds; around 200 Kurdish leaders in the resistance movement have turned themselves in and all indicates that a resolution is palpable.

Turkey will be asked to exercise its beneficial influence in restoring peace, stability and economic prosperity in the region.  It will inevitably join the European Union with the unavoidable important changes that Turkey will have to accept and undergo in matters of democracy, liberty, human rights, social and economical constraints.

This transformation of a powerful neighbor will transcend into a drastic transformation of the societies surrounding Turkey. The benefits are already materializing in closer ties with Syria, pressures on Israel to agree on a Palestinian State, and greater normalization with Iran.

Turkey is obviously the main power that can provide autonomy to the Kurdish nationalism spreading among Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey is the main power that can efficiently check US omnipotence in the Middle East and any resurgence of Russia militarism. Turkey prevented Bush Junior to invade Iraq through its territory; the US air base in Interlink was prohibited to launch air raids on Iraq.  I have great hope in this new power amongst us, especially that the current Turkish government has proven to be far-sighted and confident in its power and role in this region.

For a couple of years after Europe shut off the door for Turkey entering the Union, Turkey felt the need to crawl in a cave and hibernate.  Turkey shook off its lethargic attitude and is now in the driving seat and operating a strategy that befits its power in the Middle East.  It has surmounted tough obstacles in economic difficulties, human rights issues that are frequently re-emerging, and demonstrations that are occasionally broken by brute force. Turkey is no longer allowed to relax.

Turkey is quickly learning that it has to keep pace with the culture of Europe and to fight harder to catch up with lost time. Its dialogue with Syria has brought fruits: no visas are needed to cross joint borders, seasonal water resource shortages are frequently revised, and the western world had come to term that it can no longer circumvent Syria in this volatile region with Turkey’s backing.

Europe must be appreciating the decision of Turkey to play a major role in the Near East, but the US is very wary because it refuses to share pre-eminence in the Middle East.  Turkey active diplomacy and clear policies should weight heavier in the decision process for joining the European Union.  The frustrations of Turkey with the EU must have given it a clear hint of what its policies should be based on and where its focus should be directed to.

Turkey is the new pivotal power in the Middle East in the coming decades.  It is the cornerstone for new emerging Northern Middle East Block with Syria, Iraq, and Iran.  This strategic block in formation is inevitable after the US troops leave Iraq and would constitute the best guarantee for this volatile region to peace and security.

Erdogan should have received the Nobel Award for Peace instead of Barak Obama who has no active records to show for earning this prize (Read my post “What that! Nobel Prize for Passivity?”  Erdogan has already executed peace treaties with his archenemies: Syria, Armenia, the Kurds, soon with Cyprus, and has definitely sided with the Palestinians against apartheid Israel.

Normally, Erdogan should be in line for the peace prize. Judging from the trend, the cynical Nobel Committee never feels comfortable awarding Peace Prizes to Middle Eastern leaders unless it is shared with the devils such as Began and Peres. Erdogan got my highest prize and we all feel much more optimist in our future.

Note 1:  Political events have accelerated since I published this article, and I changed my mind: Erdogan is not supposed to be considered for Peace Nobel award, unless the US administration wants to push his nomination forward!  Turkey has changed policies to accommodate drastic mass uprising in the Arab States.  The Kurds are being persecuted by mass military interventions…

Turkey is kind of demonstrating that it is acting in full cooperation with the US administration.  Turkey has resumed military activities against the Kurds, within Iraq boundaries.  Turkey is alienating Syria by showing off as the neighboring Big Brother with suggestions and tacit threats.  The Arab States are becoming more worried of this close cooperation between Turkey and the US…

Islamist Erdogan has not demonstrated that he will turn over power, if he ever lost an election, a rule that has been in its tenth year and going stronger…

Note 2: Last week in May, 2013, the Kurdish Workers’ Party agreed to leave Turkey and move its military forces to Iraq. Turkey is in cohort with Israel for bombing Damascus and wrecking havoc in Syria…

Note 3: This May 2013, Turkish people mass demonstrated in Taksim Square (Istanbul) to prevent the erasing of a popular park to build yet another Mall. Over 1,000 were arrested, 4 died when tanks run them over and the police forces were ordered to retreat when faced with steadfast obstruction.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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