What began as a protest to save a park from being demolished in Istanbul’s historic city center, Taksim, has become a movement that can reshape the concept of citizenship in Turkey.
The crowd today comprises individuals, each distinctive and in pursuit of resolving a particular grievance. All their grievances, however, are rooted in the authoritarian and dismissive attitude of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s Prime Minister. Some of these individuals have attempted previously to voice their various complaints. In another peaceful protest that turned violent, some in April tried to save a historic movie theater slated for demolition in order to build a shopping mall. Many were angered on May 1 because they were restricted from gathering in Taksim Square, a symbolic gathering point for those seeking to honor workers. They also were met with police resistance and brutality. Others continue to gather every Sunday at the Haydarpaşa train station to protest redevelopment plans targeting this spectacular, historic building.
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Didem Çakmaklı is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Koç University and holds an MA from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and her BA from Whittier College. She has worked for various NGOs in Istanbul and Washington, DC. on issues ranging from education to Turkish-US relations.