Turkish Spring: Taksim Gezi Park protests in Istanbul

(Estimated 40,000 people cross the Bosphorous Bridge to join the protests/OccupyGeziPics)
Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul is alive with protest at this moment. The action began on May 28, when environmentalists protested plans to remove the park and replace it with a mall, and were met with a brutal police crackdown. Since then thousands have taken to the streets in Istanbul and other Turkish cities (though there's a media blackout on the protests, and poor Internet penetration in Turkey, which means the news is slow to reach other parts of the country).

("Gotta love the creativity of Turkish people clashing with tear gas shot by the police in Istanbul"/@Selintifada)
An excellent summary of the events can be had in the 2013 Taksim Gezi Park protests Wikipedia article. The Occupy Gezi Pics Tumblr is a great clearinghouse of astounding photos from the protests. Here's @MashallahNews's list of English-language tweeters from the protests.

("A protester stands proud after a hard day’s night."/OccupyGeziPics)
If you're on the ground in Taksim Gezi, here's a list of nearby WiFi passwords you can use. Reportedly, the local Starbucks is offering shelter, supplies and toilets to demonstrators.

On Twitter, Jacob Appelbaum sends this advice to protesters:

"Photograph radios and communications gear of the police or any other violent thug - what are they using to communicate?"

"Try to use anonymous pre-paid SIM cards and throw away phones; use secure communications software to avoid likely interception."

"Remember that the police and the telecommunications companies will work together to identify every #OccupyGezi person during and afterwards"

"Consider using TextSecure, RedPhone, Orbot, Orweb, Gibberbot and ObscuraCam on Android cell phones; protect yourself!"

"BLACKBERRY IS NOT SECURE! #occupygezi RIM sold out their users and only care about carriers/government "security" concerns."

"The police have detailed location information from cell phones - use burner phones/sim cards; they likely intercept sms/calls."


  1. This has nothing to do with the Arab Spring branding.
    This is the long expected break up between modern urban Turks and the AKP who were in a pragmatic coalition for the last ten years.

    The deal was:

    AKP will drive back the influence of the military and modernize the economy

    in turn AKP can:

    Drive back the very extremes of Turkish secularism.

    It was inevitable that this unspoken deal would fall apart at some point.

    Too early to say how this will play out. But again if this really was an attempt to overthrow the government (and from all my sources in Istanbul it’s not) then this would be the attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government. 
    That’s why the spring analogy is misleading at best.

    1. You do realize that the “spring” phrase started way, way before the Arab spring, right?

        1. Gotcha.  You’re just one of those people that are offended by everything.  Have fun with that..

  2. I really want to express one thing. This protest has no leaders and no party. This is people who are fed up with a man who thinks he can do as he please! This protest started to protect trees, people were singing reading books and sitting. In the break of dawn police attacked with tear gas and water cannons, burning peoples tents and instruments. PM said “Do whatever you like, we will do as we planned” and this is our answer. Lets see!

  3. There is absolutely no TV coverage of these events. There is only one TV channel truthful enough to show what is going on. Yesterday when tens of thousands of people protesting, there were beauty contest, documentaries and PM s talk about previous occasions on all the rest of the channels… 

  4. “Turkish Spring?” Really?

    Media blackout? Let’s take a look at a major Turkish tabloid (i.e. mainstream print media): http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/anasayfa/

    I see dozens of photos and articles about the protests.

    “Poor internet penetration?” About the same as Russia. Or the Middle East. Which is due to the fact that much of Anatolia consists of not exactly affluent villages. But go to any city, no matter how small, and you’ll have no problem at all getting on the Internet since there are Internet cafes everywhere.

    Or you could just buy a copy of Hürriyet and read about the protests that way.

    1.  https://twitter.com/MarietjeD66/status/340742452422012928 “Fewer than half of Turkish households have Internet access”

      1. Yes, “households.” Just like Russia. Or China, Brazil, Peru, Mexico. Even Puerto Rico for crying out loud! Doesn’t mean that Internet isn’t ubiquitous in urban Turkey.

        1. So “words” like “household” don’t mean anything? But random lists of countries do!

      2. I’ve worked in rural southeastern Turkey for the last 8 summers. You can find the internet in most small towns in Turkey, often in ad hoc internet cafes. Failing that, many own smartphones and can access the internet via cell networks.

    2. There are f.cking jammers everywhere in taksim and they deliberately f.cked up the major internet provider’s connectivity. hürriyet and other main stream media would only show the tip of the the iceberg -and with a distorted perspective. people are dying here because of unproportional use of violence by the police. spring or not, there is huge uprising going on here and the goverenement is trying to conceal it.

      1. Agreed and nobody’s disputing that. But you (not you specifically) gotta maintain just a tiny little bit of accuracy and perspective. This isn’t _quite_ the same as trying to depose Mubarak or Assad.

        1. Look it’s pretty obvious that English isn’t the first language of a lot of the people posting here. And your perspective might be a bit of a luxury considering you aren’t in the middle of an intense situation.

          1. My friends couldn’t go home last night because Taksin was hanging in a tear gas cloud and the police would not let them in. They say its been a growing disgust with Erdogan’s policies since last year so this park issue is being a trigger to express something more.
            These friends told me that they hope that this will be a starting point to form a decent opposition to the ever dominating AKP, because the current opposition parties are mostly crap or even proto fascist like the CHP.

          2. couldn’t be more true. let’s stop arguing  if it resembles the spring or not. please share this knowledge with the world. share the photos, videos. share our cause -help it.

    3. I’ve been to Istanbul a few times and I’ve never felt that internet access was an issue and no one I talked to mentioned it being an issue.

        1. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more of a case of censorship in the name of public morals.

  5. I am worried about that bridge. Crowds of  people have a higher mass per unit area than vehicles and I remember that when the golden gate bridge was closed to traffic the number of people on the bridge was limited by authorities.

    1. Thank you but every year people cross the bridge for ” public marathon ” with no problem but we also want to have ” public barbeque day ” on the bridge

      1. I am guessing that even if you are not aware of it, attention is being paid to concentrated and distributed loads across the bridge for those events. I would expect a marathon to have spectators and runners with a lower total mass than a huge compact crowd of people.

  6. Dear twianto, there were absolutely no TV coverage until today, except for Halk TV. The prime minister have appeared just an hour ago, after 24 hours of full riots. Today some newspapers put news on their front page. Sabah, the third biggest selling paper in Turkey has not a single word on riots. Think about it. People are trying to defend central park, thousands of police are attacking them, injuring them with disproportionate use of power, riots appear in other cities and there is no TV coverage for 24 hours. I am a person who asks questions as well and I love that you are not believing what you are reading. Please look more into it before you want to jump into a conclusion. Revolution will not be televised!

  7. Oh, as for the democratically elected government bullshit! Look into the history of dictators and you will see, almost all of them were elected democratically! 

    1. See, this is where you lose people. Unchecked hyperbole doesn’t get you anywhere. Gotta stick to the facts, they’re bad enough.

      1. What is the unchecked hyperbole I stated? 

        If it was for the media black out. Here; http://www.netgazete.com/gazetebirincisayfalar.php
        It shows the main newspapers first pages. Today except 4 of them have news on frontpage (albeit with distorted views but that is not my case) Now check out yesterdays news as you can do it on the same page and tell me it is ok. Look into internet and your valid sources and learn if yesterday there was any coverage of the riots in any TV channel except Halk TV.

        Is it the elected dictators? Here is a list for you; Nasser – Egypt, Kaunda – Zambia, Bongo – Gabon, Nguema – Equatorial Guinea, Obasonja – Nigeria, Mugabe – Zimbabwe, Ben Ali – Tunisia, Taylor – Liberia, Sata – Zambia, Campo – Chile, Vargas – Brazil, Burnham – Guyana, Silva- Brazil, Duvalier – Haiti, Zogu – Albania, Milosevic – Serbia so they are not so few eh! So unless they were generals and didnt make a coup, I see a lot of them being chosen democratically. 

        1. Yes, I replied to your “dictator” comment as you can see if you look at the thread. No matter how angry you are (for good reasons I might add), comparing Erdoğan to Charles Taylor or Robert Mugabe doesn’t help. You can be a dick without being a crackpot genocidal dictator.

        2. I am Venezuelan. I understand your plight, bro, or sis. 

          Inhale deeply. Keep your calm and let the facts speak for you. Not much else that you can do.

          hugs and good luck.

    2. So where is your proof that the AKP is currently involved in a power grab that will make Erdogan a dictator?

    3. Yes they were democratically elected, no doubt on that!!! But they forgot democracy and presenting people after they got elected and if they wanna do something and see protests they should explain the project to the people, sorry but nothing will come out of these protests, he is still gonna stay as our preminister but only has to check himself before showing himself like an idiot to the world

  8. This conflict has been brewing ever since the AKP took power. Their goal is quite obviously to roll back Atatür’s secular constitution, and remove anything that might get in their way. ~They’ve already attacked the courts, tried to purge the army, and  Turkey imprisons more journalists than anywhere else in the world. Their leader is even reported as saying, quite openly  “Democracy is like a bus- when we reach our destination, we will get off.”

    The problem for the protesters, and for supporters of the ordinary people in Turkey, is that there are two main power bases in the country- The AKP, which wants to roll back secularism and democracy and impose its vision of conservative islamic rule, which looks far too much like Iran’s “democracy” for comfort.
    and the Army, who have overthrown several governments in the past to “defend secularism” when a government looked to go in a direction that displeased them. They have shown themselves not to be particularly keen on free speech or democracy either, and neither side shows particular concern for human rights, or doing anything about the Kurdish minority.

    The protesters find themselves caught between these two competing powers, and I really don’t see this situation ending well.

  9. Our prime minister officially said on all TV channels a few hours ago, ” I could bring a million pro government protesters against you if I wanted to” What a manly man, our alpha dog PM, go and bring more chaos to our country, it seems this is what you are paid to do anyhow!

  10. “Turkish Spring” headline is kinda lazy of you — it’s not an apt comparison, but I guess if you want to squeeze the facts into your own meme, go for it.

    More generally, not too comfortable with the application of the California/Web 2.0 ideology here, either.  Yes, it’s possible for Turkish people to think for themselves without your internet telling them how to do it. 

    1. without your internet telling them how to do it.

      It appears you don’t understand how the internet works.

  11. when you guys know the reason Erdogan is adament to continue with building the shopping mall in taksim square, your suprise will cease.
    hamad bin jasim (Qatar) saw this spot 1 1/2 years ago  and loved it and indicated his interest to buy it at any cost. Erdogan got his son to form a company using fronts and own the land.already the land has been sold
    to hamad and Erdogans son has collectd $$$$$$$$$$ (i leave the figure to the imagination of people who know this beautiful spot) in Beyoglu in Taksim Square.Erdogan’s son has already collected the price.Thats why Erdogan said no going back on this dicision.heheheheheheheh
    the shit has hit the fan. 

    1. Interesting. The park is also something of a memorial to Ataturk, no? Some of the trees there were ones that he planted. So that makes two reasons why Erdogan wants it obliterated.

  12. This is not Turkish spring, this is a genuine thing. As for the dictator thing, here is a food for though for you. This is the spark that started it. You decide to do something in the middle of Istanbul without the consent of the people living there. The architects and the city planning council says no to the project and you send it back saying it will be done. Then people start protesting it and you come out and say, whatever you do, we will go as we planned! Then you send thousands of cops in 05:00 in the morning to peaceful protesters, bombing them with gas and cannons. So if this is not a dictator in the making for you, tell me who is?

    Did you know our virtuoso pianist Fazil Say put a poem on his twitter (old one from Khayyam) about god and got sentenced to prison! while a member of parliament in his twitter account told Atheists should be annihilated and nothing happened. Do you know it is impossible to say anything bad about Islam in Turkey while you can say the Atheists are fucking pigs that has to be killed!
    Do you know why people are angry at all? There is a man here who decides everything! He even talks about TV series and censors them personally and is outspoken about these. The arrogance!
     Did you know when Olympics in London were happening our national TV censored the song Imagine!!!! Can you believe that? Do you understand where it has come to!!!
    There so many, they creep up and try to change your lifestyle, strangle you little by little.

      1. Yeah right.  The “swingers” of the police “sword” are always the wealthy and powerful.

  13. First protester killed by police in Istanbul. Almost 60 people arrested as protests reach Ankara and Izmir and many injured. Since May 28, peaceful protesters have held demonstrations trying to avoid the demolition of a what they call Istanbul’s last green public space. On Twitter, hashtags related to the protest trended worldwide due to the police brutality, with the main term#OccupyGezi. Tweets reached 160.000 in Friday. Many activists on the ground have started tweeting in English in order to spread news of the police crackdown: alturl.com/qs2vk 

  14. Spring ? Stop thinking in comparative way between istanbul protesters and Arab spring . There is no Turkish spring , we just want to protest governtment’s politics and police action about activists in Gezi Park at Taksim Square .

  15. Destruction of open space in the name of private commerce is a daily occurrence here.  Istanbul is so densely built up with so little parkland I can understand their anger.

  16. The protest has gotten bigger and there seems to a kettle going on.  Worried about what will happen tonight.

    1. Yes! That is what we are talking about!!! It was on international news while it was not on Turkish TV. Star Tv (one of the most watched channel) was showing Shrek for gods sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

  17. We were among the first (if not the first) to break the news properly focused. This is key question: it is a citizen uprising, no other more wild riots in a distant country. Turkey is a key ally forNATO and the West. Its stability is essential. More now with the Syrian conflict. Maybe that’s why I also think there’s a certain blackout. First, because many important media (LA Times washpost …) do not give it. Second, because those who offer it, are resisting themselves to recognize the “Indignados” or #OWS character of demonstrations.
    Please quote us also: themalditoroedor.com
    See the pic: this is something new in Turkey. The Biggest Flash Mob in turkish history.

  18. Did you call London riot, occupy Wall Street,  protests in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France…etc as “Springs”? If not, please stop calling Turkish spring.

  19. Did you call London riot, occupy Wall Street,  protests in Greece,
    Spain, Portugal, Italy, France…etc as “Springs”? If not, please stop
    calling Turkish spring.

  20. Still remain unclear the real numbers of injured and arrested during the more than 90 demonstrations that took place yesterday in dozens of cities in Turkey.Amnesty International said following reports of more than 1,000 injuries and at least two deaths of protesters in Istanbul.

  21. Spring, fall, autumn, summer whatever you name it, I don’t get why you are arguing on naming it, that is not the real issue. The fact that is there is a fascist, police powered movement in Turkey against its citizens. The country-wide media is completly silenced. People that do not use social media (most adults) are unaware of the details of the situation. If any of you are inerested, just search gezi parki, turkey, etc. on the web. We are in need of world’s responsibility over humanity.

    1.  Where do you see this? Not only does this seem completely unbelievable, but I haven’t seen it even hinted at anywhere.

  22. THIS I NOT A ‘ TURKISH SPRING’.!!!This is a movement of the people, no political parties,no institution, people only!!! PLEASE CHANGE YOUR HEADLINE!!!!!

  23. Erdogan still enjoys the support of a significant majority of the Turkish population. These protestors are a sizable minority, but a minority nonetheless. I think it’s way too early to start calling this the Turkish Spring.

    Anyway, Turkey has had it’s ruling party forcibly overthrown countless times, as recently as the 90s. Who’s to say, should it come to that, that this is anything other than simply the most recent such event in a long list?

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