Taksim Gezi Park Protests of 2013


Taksim Gezi Park is an urban park next to Taksim Square, in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district (historically known as Pera.) It is one of the few green spaces in Beyoğlu and one of the smallest parks of Istanbul. In May 2013, plans to replace the park with a shopping mall sparked nationwide protests in Turkey.

The protest began on 28 May 2013 and after the police tried to suppress the demonstrations, there were riots. On 31 May 2013, police cleared protesters from the area using tear gas and pressurized water canon. This police repression was widely reported on social media, and in the international press. The issues raised by the protests broadened out beyond the development of Taksim Gezi Park, to include issues such as freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, as well as into a broad defence of secularism in Turkey. Taksim Square was occupied and the protests spread to other cities, and other countries with significant Turkish communities.

As protests continued across the country, police use of tear gas and water cannons led to thousands of injuries, including loss of sight, and several deaths. Over three thousand arrests were made. The police repeatedly used unnecessary and punitive force to prevent and disperse peaceful demonstrations. It is estimated that there were 11 fatalities and least at least 8,163 injuries. The police were roundly criticised for, among other things, using tear gas inside buildings.

These protests have been described as the most challenging events of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s term in office and the most significant nationwide disquiet in decades. They also serve to remind us that protests against overdevelopment and gentrification can evolve into something even more significant.

Wikipedia entry on the protests: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gezi_Park_protests


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