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.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
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?  

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs