This is a personal account of one Turkish student, who I think speaks for many others to explain why a portion of the Turkish people are uprising.
In fact this question is not obvious at all. Because, Turkey is presumably a democratic country, a US ally, and the prime minister, Erdogan, is elected three times in a row, since 2002, through elections and enjoyed 50% support in the last one. Not to mention during the last decade of his party's governing, Turkey experienced unprecedented economic growth, greatly increasing per capita wealth when rest of the Europe is still in trouble. Further, Mr. Erdogan, seemingly crusaded against the military to remove their decades of influence on the democracy, giving Kurdish minority more rights and judiciary changes to align it more with the western democracies.
He seems like a great leader. So why really is it that the Turkish people are so upset with their elected prime minister and accuse him with dictatorial tendencies? I think this video addresses some of the reasons.
First, Turkey's PM has used (abused) the religion to keep his popular support, and systematically been changing the rules of the secular Republic that are incompatible with any freedoms. He has absolute last word in his party, does not tolerate dissent internally, externally or from the media. What he wants eventually gets done, with almost no opposition.
In the last decade, Turkey became infamous for jailing the largest number of journalist in the world! Not only that, as this crisis showed, all major private TV, media companies/owners are under complete control by the government. While there were 100s of thousands in the streets protesting, the TVs in Turkey were showing documentaries about the life of penguins!
He appears intolerant and hates it when he cannot control or suppress it. Just yesterday, the Prime Minister called twitter and social media the most damned and dangerous things for the society! How are all these compatible with civil and democratic society?
It is not just the media, other segments of the society are also suppressed by fear of being detained, jailed and feels under watch for not obeying the new social rules government issues on daily basis at will. Erdogan calls them "moral social laws in line with Islam". Each time he does this under the pretext that they are good for the people, because they are morally right things to the do (according to him) and are the will of the people who voted for him ... but what about the other 50% who didn't?
This has been worrying the modern and secular segment of people, which is the other half. They are especially sensitive, because they saw what happens in their neighbors ruled by religious laws and because these freedom of religion and thought has been won by almost century old struggles. It is highly ironic that the PM was elected and claimed to make Turkey more free and democratic. Yet, masterfully, he used freedom to consolidate the power. It is instructive that the PM Erdogan has once famously said "Democracy is like a train, you need it until you get to your destination station...". He has already planned to change the constitution next year to declare himself the president and govern supremely.
These crisis of the last few days couldnt be more revealing on this core issue, fear and resentment. Mr. Erdogan, rather than being reconciliatory, has become even more defiant and threatening , repeatedly mentioning he has the power of 50% of the country in his back and they are just waiting for his one word to come out for him. He calls the protestors bunch of looters, bums, traitors who are manipulated by the secret services of foreign countries ...
My 72 year old mother, every other relative and close friends are all protesting. The people in the streets include some of the most educated, modern part of the Turkish society, artists, professors, scientists, journalists, doctors, businessman...I can assure you, they are out in the streets because they care for their freedoms, because they no longer want to be afraid for their or their nation's future and freedom.
Turkey is not Syria, Egypt or Iran, there is no dictator per se to topple ... but Turkish people realized their elected leader has fooled them and has been consolidating his power towards that goal. They could not take it anymore, they chose to rise up, risk their lives and suffer to preserve the future of their freedom and I believe that's cause worth defending at all costs.
I felt it was important for those I can reach, those who trust my words, to know and spread the truth. I am sorry to have interrupted my science related posts, but when freedom of people you care for is at stake, one has to give their support for this cause. After all, without freedom of thought, there wouldn't be any science to speak off... #occupygezi #Turkey #Direngeziparki #turkeyprotests #protests #occupyTurkey