Photo courtesy of Seattlepi.com
An amazing thing happened in Turkey. Something probably that could happen no where else in the world!… A spontaneous demonstration against the government bulldozing a centuries old park into a shopping mall, erupted into a large wave of protests across the Anatolian peninsula that is known to most simply as Turkey.
The protest was supposed to be minor, but a vicious crackdown on families for the most part, launching tear gas and water cannons into their midst, now has the talk of bringing down the current government.
Of particular interest, the Turkish military which was on hand in case things got out of control, which was repeatedly asked by the police forces to assist, refused to side with the police or with the government. It appears they like the park too. In fact there were many anecdotes of the military encouraging the protesters and advising them where and when to protest so they would not receive the full force of the police.
The idea of the government, representing the top 1%, kicking regular citizens out of a park to build a mall as their investment, became the straw breaking the camel’s back.
The ATP, has been the ruling party since 2003 which would make it 10 years. Although Muslim it is very business oriented and is responsible for rebuilding Turkey into the powerhouse it is now. This is almost a miracle if one considers its neighbors, Cyprus, Greece, the Balkans, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and the principalities of the Caucasus….
Coming into power off the backs of the economic crash or 2001 and 2002, the ATP first rebuilt the banking industry, then focused on the economy and unemployment, get the budget under control, and then invested everything it could into its infrastructure, health, education, and technology.. . Now home to some of the top construction firms in the third World, it is landing contracts though out Asia and Africa. It has invested heavily into renewable energy, and is exporting energy to its energy starve neighbors.
The ruling party and its leader, Erdoğan, have been re-elected three times, each time with a consistent higher percentage of the vote.. Ironically what no one inside Turkey could accomplish, Erdoğan has done himself. Put his government in jeopardy, and solidified opposition to his rule.
He has made some mistakes. Most particular are his cozying up to the influence of Allah. Turkey is mostly Muslim but… it has one of the largest populations of non-Muslims of any other Muslim nation. Turkey since Atatürk founded it in the 1920’s has had a secular constitution. Recently, the curtailing of late night selling of alcohol, has as one would certainly expect, made a lot of people angry. He also alienated a large population by naming the third bridge across the Bosporus, after an Ottoman sultan known for his massacre of minorities….
So when the bulldozers started uprooting Century old trees in one of the few green parks in its largest city, it was as if Saruman had come back to life. The arrogance was too much for large numbers of its citizens. Taking children in hand they occupied the park in a silent and peaceful demonstration. Without warning, the trucks moved in, water cannons fired, and tear gas cannisters launched.. It galvanized the opposition.
By the third day, protests, some violent, had taken place across all of Turkeys cities, and in foreign countries with numbers of Turkish immigrants.
Although the park was the instigator, the cause is arrogance. There may be a big price to pay. Will investment flee turkey? Already as this is written, the Turkish Lira is dropping on the Asian markets.. The press which has so far been supportive of Erdoğan is very harsh to him right now.
Perhaps he can hang on, but his once untouchable position has head of the most stable of muslim countries, is now a lot closer in reach.
On a personal note, I can see parallels with our own Governor in his arrogance towards our current schools, teachers and districts, as possibly being the step for him that undoes his aura of invincibility…. People are angry.