After going to protests since May 31st, and documenting the past thirteen days of upheaval in Istanbul, here are just few of the reasons why the crowds are unhappy:
- mass urban development plans wherever the ruling govt. desires
- restrictions on alcohol sales
- the government's Syria policy
- reforms in education sector
- unemployment (yes, despite the booming economy)
- controversy around abortion law
- arrested army officials on some deep state plotting charges
- arrested journalists and artists
This list could probably go even longer, I just thought I name the ones that were mentioned more often than others in the course of the past almost two weeks now.
The violent clashes have more or less subsided though reports of re-occurring clashes at night in other parts of the country still on- going.
And yet, despite all thats been said, stated, mentioned and voiced, the ruling party leader, PM Erdogan prefers to talk about the booming economy of the recent years. Reforms stalled some time in 2007 and things are as great as AKP says. The ruling government successfully managed to "take over" some if not all institutions, companies, judiciary and media outlets and "appointed" those who are close to the government.
I almost feel like that soon those outside of PM Erdogan's "love circle" are going to adopt the all-too-familiar by now slogan (albeit with a slight change) "we are the 50%". Most of the people I've spoken to at Gezi Park say thats how they see themselves- supporters of the regime vs. the rest of the country.
One thing is certain, ever since the protests began, the biased reaction from Prime Minister and his continued stubbornness to see beyond his advisers already polarized a country of some 70 million. And a statement by Istanbul mayor today on the decision to continue with the construction plans based on the Prime Minister's desire could potentially trigger further resistance and discontent.
I guess we are all in for a long ride here so put on your Guy Fawkes masks and come to Gezi for the atmosphere...