News / Europe

Protests in Turkey Peaceful, But Tensions Remain

VOA in Istanbul: Outcome Uncertain as Protests Continuei
June 21, 2013 1:09 AM
Three weeks after violent clashes between protestors and the Turkish government, calm has been restored. But peaceful protests continue and many people wonder how the confrontation will end. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Istanbul.
Outcome Uncertain as Turkey Protests Continue
Scott Bobb
Three weeks after violent clashes between protestors and the Turkish government, calm has been restored. But peaceful protests continue and many people wonder how the confrontation will end.

Taksim Squarel, the scene of violent protests, has returned to normal, although Turkish police now occupy nearby Gezi Park, whose proposed demolition sparked the clashes. And they keep a close watch on the square where protesters maintain a silent standing vigil.

The confrontation began as an environmental protest. But it broadened after police used what people felt was excessive force against the activists. Opposition parties, revolutionary movements and fringe groups quickly joined in.

Security guard Sati Ay says he was appalled by the police violence and what he says were inflammatory remarks by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“I think he [Erdogan] should leave, and a new government should be formed that listens and supports the people. He should stop calling protesters looters and stop turning people against each other,” he said.

Sevilay, a teacher who gives only her first name, says the government's authoritarian response fueled the protests.

“I think it's wrong to judge things from a political perspective. We are not under any political party's flag here. We all have some problems and want to be heard. We want equality, justice and law,” Sevilay said.

Erdogan remains popular in places like this working-class neighborhood in Old Istanbul called Eyup. Retiree Ahmet Arda says the crackdown was necessary because the protests had become violent.

“I think what the government did was right. I am 50 years old. I have never seen such horrible things that those protestors did,” Arda said.

Many people like Erdogan's Islamist credentials. Even more back him because of the economic prosperity during his 11 year-rule. Restaurant worker Mehmet Bosal, says Erdogan was democratically elected.

“This has nothing to do with democracy.  The people chose Erdogan and his government.  It was the people's decision," Bosal said.

Bogazici Universtiy Professor Karay Caliskan says the country is divided.

“The supporters of Erdogan are doubtful of his leadership potential. The supporters of the opposition parties are there, but they don't know whether they are going to grow. Now there's an accordion of undecided, around 20 percent, and they are going to decide what's going to happen,” Caliskan said.

At Taksim Square Nunay Toper and her friend, Oguzcan Bozkurt, say they will maintain their vigil.

“I think the protests will continue. As long as nothing changes, we will be here,” Toper said.

As a result, many people believe the protest will only end with the elections due in the next year.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 22, 2013 10:07 AM
Maybe the people have been looking for ways to speak out until Erdogan himself provided one for them. More than just that Erdogan wants to pull down a tree and plant another, the people must have been wanting to protests his high handedness in fundamentalist islamist leaning. The protest is more to prevent Erdogan reverting to the Ottoman empire system of extremist islamisation; they want to prevent the Egyptian, Iranian and Saudi Arabian type of authoritarianism. Which the Opposition in Syria tended toward, but became erroneous. These people in Turkey are truly showing the lead in the Middle East and Asia. They say NEVER to further forceful conversion of people to religions they would not touch with a five metre pole given freedom of choice. They reject what is happening in the region where only Israel can stand with their head high in the comity of nations as the only true democracy with all the democratic liberties in it. They say NO to slavery and second-rate citizenship in their country. The earlier Erdogan understood and grant this demand, the sooner Turkey becomes a peaceful country again. Otherwise, the lesson of Syria, Libya and Egypt are still fresh in memory - even if he succeeds in the interim to quell this current rebellion.
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 24, 2013 3:33 AM
Thank you for your suggestive comment. So protesters are claiming that Turkish politics should be carried out without exccessive affection of a particular religion.They do not want authoritaliaism but want democracy. Am I right? Thank you.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 21, 2013 4:03 AM
I wonder what was the claim of demonstrators in this protest and what is the claim of silent standing vigil. It is reported that many different groups took part in this protest, so claims would be multi-factorial depending on the groups.

A lady in this report said that she wants equality. I think equality is not the same as something fair. There would be no country where all nations are equal. I suppose she would love to get fairness. What is unfairness or unjustness for demonstrators in current Turkey? Turkish economy looks good. Religious conflict seems unlikely because of majority of Islam. Restricted speech? Conflict relating to Kurd?  

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