An Argument for Gezi Park

Taksim Gezi Park protests, June 15
Taksim Gezi Park protests, June 15

Continued demonstrations in Turkey bring to light Prime Minister Erdogan’s hypocrisy.

by Ferhat Arslan

The biggest mistake of the Turkish government was pretending that the Gezi Park demonstrations were a momentary outburst of a few extreme political factions in Istanbul. Government officials thought that by meeting the protesters with heavy police force they could remove the thorn from their side — a response that had been used countless times in Turkey to squash out dissenting voices where they appeared. This time, it did not.

After the military coup of 1980, the upcoming younger generation was systematically de-politicized, silenced, and excluded from political discussion. As a result, until May 28, 2013, the youth of Turkey remained largely silent on political issues. With this strategy of de-politicization, the governments that ruled the country from 1980 on encountered no effective opposition and dominated social issues without reservation.

September’s continued demonstrations in Turkey revealed the importance of social media as an alternative to nation-wide mass media and highlighted its role in politicizing a new generation. The gap between the stories on social media and those portrayed in the mass media during the demonstrations revealed to many people for the first time how …

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