Taxim Square, Istanbul

June 3, 2013

Taxim Square, Istanbul

“dear friends,

as you know something is happening in turkey. i am sure if you are reading sources in english, you are probably getting news better than most of the turkish people who follow the main stream television channels. the reason is the prime minister (PM) asked personally to the tv channels not to make any news concerning the demonstrations, and police violence. and they obey so.

make no mistake, this is not the action of a group of oriental people who are revolting against their ruthless sultan. the sentiments might be so, but the facts are embedded into the neoliberal transformation, which the cities have been going through. our european friends could and should draw from these events.

to leave the my usual rants aside, let me go through the facts of what has been going on, and the whole movement have started.

you might have heard that the economy of turkey has been progressing well and have not -yet- affected by the crisis. this is due to the ongoing growth of the construction sector of turkey. if you look at the percentages of the investment and the labor market, it is occupying the first slot. this is a type of economical growth which depends on pumping up the land value, combined with the financial speculation is basically what caused the crisis in spain.

we are not yet at the crisis demarcation, however we are at a point in which the masses which live in the cities need to be either pushed outskirts or disciplined in order to make space for lucrative investments, which the city will increase its value upon. because of this fact, numerous projects have been undertaken, the most controversial one was the transformation of the historic haydarpasha train station into an “entertainment and cultural zone” which basically means commercialization. but set that aside another project which generated public discontent was the transformation of the taksim square which is the most central square of the biggest city in turkey, the old capital, istanbul.

the government indicated signals of how they want to transform this zone, one idea was building a new modern mosque, but currently -as of today- erdoğan indicated that “this is an international guest zone, which multiple conferences are undertaken hence there is an important need for hotels.” which ever building will be built, taksim square will cease to be public, but rather be commercialized.

there are two reasons for that, which are not mutually exclusive:

1) increase the value of the city to attract investment into the city.
2) to hide the major demonstrations which usually takes place in taksim from public view, by moving them outside of the city center, hence create the atmosphere of tranquility inside the city.

there is a long history of struggle for the public space for demonstration in turkey, revolving around the taksim square. this goes all the way back to a bloody first of may of 1977. i will not go into detail, but the first official/legal 1st of may in taksim since 1980 was celebrated last year after many years struggle.

this year, the government declared that public demonstration will no longer take place in taksim, and started the conversion/commercialization projects (which ironically they call pedestrianization in turkish). this 1st of may, they used the city/road works around taksim as an excuse and declared that the demonstration will not take place there. the unions and leftist political organizations reacted and tried to enter the square anyhow. hence we had the worst 1st of may in years, probably since 1980s. the mayor decided to close down the whole city, they stopped the public transportation and even the ferries, causing a complete shut down of the city.

to summarize, the clashes last month was not simply about 1st of may, it was about the “right to the city.””

read on

Turkish protest takes root in Istanbul square after security forces withdraw

İstanbul, Turkey: Taksim Gezi Park occupied

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