Middle EastTurkey

Gezi park uprising approaches its first anniversary


At the end of May 2013, a decision by Istanbul municipal authorities to chop down a handful of trees in Gezi Park, in central Istanbul, had far reaching consequences. That decision and the subsequent police use of excessive, sometimes fatal, force led to millions of Turks taking to the streets in protests that rocked the government.
Gezi Park, near the iconic Taksim Square is one of the few green spaces left in central Istanbul. The decision by city authorities to clear it and make way for yet another shopping mall sparked a resistance movement against a government that had for long taken the acquiescence of its citizens for granted.Over the next few months, millions took to streets across the country to voice their anger and frustration against the government, and the police, leading to many deaths and thousands of injuries. The Gezi Park uprising can be seen as a watershed in modern Turkish politics, when, briefly, agenda-setting moved from the government to the streets.Last year, here in Gezi Park, a protest by a small group of environmentalists turned into nationwide anti-government rallies after it was brutally attacked by police. Now with the anniversary of the Gezi Park protests approaching, it remains to be seen whether the government will be able to handle the situation differently this time.

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