You want demands? Istanbul has got ‘em - Ankara, Hatay, Istanbul RESIGN!
June 6, 2013
With a measure of calm returning to a city that for days has been a cauldron of antigovernment passions, representatives of a group that helped incite protests that have been roiling Turkey opened dialogue on Wednesday with the government.
It gave a list of demands to the country’s deputy prime minister as the police expanded security operations and detained several dozen people accused of provoking illegal acts on social media networks.
The demands include: the dismissal of the governors of Istanbul, Ankara and the city of Hatay; as well as the heads of the security forces in those three cities, the release of detained protesters, an end to the use of tear gas by the police, as well as the cancellation of the project that started the protests: the construction of an Ottoman-era replica that would destroy a park in Taksim Square in Istanbul.
At least two people have been reported killed and at least 2,300 injured in protests that spread to about 60 cities across the nation as people inspired by the protests at Taksim Square took to the streets to air broader grievances against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been out of the country since Monday on a good-will tour of North Africa.
At Taksim Square, a popular occupation that began Saturday took on a sense of permanence with another day of gatherings that felt festive, with music, food and the steady bursts of chants against Mr. Erdogan’s government. But many were anticipating Mr. Erdogan’s return to the country, due on Thursday, and what he might say to either calm or inflame the situation.
A spokesman for Taksim Solidarity, which led the protests to save Gezi Park in Taksim Square, held a news conference that was broadcast live after meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc.
“Mr. Arinc received our list of demands and said they would assess it,” said the spokesman, Tayfun Kahraman. The government made no comment.
Turkish police officers have already interrogated more than 1,700 people in connection with the protests. The bar association in the Aegen town of Izmir said Wednesday that 36 high school and college students there had been detained for investigation on charges that they provoked illegal acts via Twitter.
Twitter became the leading platform for information about the protests, in part because the country’s mainstream media (like corporate media around the world often are about human rights & protests) were silent as the protests broke out on Friday.
Ozkan Yucel, a member of the Izmir Bar Association, said that the police had given no information to the families of those detained, and that parents were left to simply wait anxiously in front of various police stations. “There is nothing lawful about these detentions,” Mr. Yucel said.
On Wednesday evening, undeterred Turks converged for a sixth day on Gezi Park for a gathering that has become the symbol of civic resistance, bringing together many strata of society in a showcase of anti-government solidarity.
Volunteers walked around with trays of Turkish bagels, part of a local Muslim tradition which millions celebrated Wednesday as one of the sacred days leading up to the holy month of Ramadan.
Artists lettered T-shirts, bags and pants with “capulcu” (meaning “looter,” the dismissive term Mr. Erdogan used for the protesters), and “Everyday I’m Capuling,” a formulation that rhymes with a line from the popular dance pop song “Party Rock Anthem.”
On Twitter, people exchanged the Turkish adaptation of the song and a short recording of Noam Chomsky, the American linguist and left-wing figure, saying in Turkish, “Taksim everywhere, resistance everywhere.”
Many young people in the park criticized the detentions of Twitter users as “scary” and “a violation of freedom of expression.”
Orhan Pamuk, the internationally acclaimed Turkish novelist and a Nobel laureate, came out in favor of the protests against the government-backed project to restructure Taksim Square.
“Planning major changes in this area that holds memories of millions and in the park behind it without any consultation with Istanbullites and hastily bringing it to a stage that involved cutting trees was a major mistake by Erdogan’s government,” he said, in an article posted by various Turkish publications on Wednesday. “Seeing that Istanbullites would not easily give up their right to political protest and memories gives me trust and hope for future.”