Presently I live in the Netherlands, but I have closely followed events in Turkey since I left the country in 2004.
Back when I was in Turkey, I had worked as a labor expert for Oleyis and DISK, a progressive union and its confederation. I had also worked in the Parliament as a political advisor to the Prime Minister. Back then, Erdogan’s government had already kicked off its neo-liberal offensive against social, cultural and labour rights, and against nature too. However, to be able to achieve its goal, they did the same against the 'state class' -- the traditional secular elite in Turkey which is a coalition of large capital groups, military and the bureaucratic cadre. From the time I left Turkey, I have been intensely following and writing about the AKP rule; the transformation of the Turkish state within the global political economy context. I know the organised actors on the ground. I have also been following the Occupy Gezi uprising since the beginning. Given my background, I will try to present a brief analysis of the current situation in Turkey.
As most of us already know, the 'unrest' was sparked by a development plan for the Gezi Park located next to the Taksim Square, where clashes took place between the police and the people last month in May. The meetings organised by Gezi Park resistance platform, which is mainly resisting the commodification of the City and public spaces, started to gather at the Park on the 28th and 29th. The engagement with police happened on the 30th, and the ensuing brutal retaliation by the police came on the 31st. However, this police retaliation sparked and led to a massive nation-wide uprising by the people against the government. Social media has been used by activists and citizens alike exactly like it was used in Tunisia, Egypt, 15M, 15O and Occupy Wall Street. Peaceful protest meetings were met with a brutal campaign of suppression by the police; pictures and reports of the protest generated anger, and it spread everywhere with the speed of light. There were reports of uprising and clashes in about 70 cities in Turkey. On the third day of the protests, millions of people went out onto the streets, parks and squares, most of the time peacefully, and in almost each case the police attacked the protesters brutally by using strong gasses and chemicals. They were speculations, of course, but the feeling of anger among the people spread very fast.
The main stream media, almost 30 privately owned TV channels as well as many radio stations did not air anything about what was happening on the streets and central squares across the country in many large cities, including the largest ones: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana and Eskisehir. Till two days ago this was the case, and with an almost five-day long total media black-out added more people to the revolt. The aggressive and macho reaction of the head of the government towards the masses, and media's total silence on the issue only made people angrier and the protests bigger. Many non-party, unorganised people followed the events via social media, live streaming, Twitter and Facebook, and went out to the streets. Same as in other cases like Wall Street occupation, but here protest rallies got massive in a very short time, even without the mainstream media coverage. The media, after coming under attack and huge protests is now apologising, and have started to report some moderate and most of the time manipulated news from the ground. The uprising and message went beyond the Park in the first day. Democracy became the central issue; people everywhere called on Erdogan to resign. Solidarity actions and groups spread across the world, as it had happened before with the previous uprisings.
At the moment, protests and gatherings continue, and no one knows where this is headed; the momentum is slow today, though in comparison to yesterday on Twitter and Facebook, but also on the streets for the moment. This might be due to the apologies that came from the deputy prime minister and president Gul's softer approach. Two large confederations organized general strikes the day before yesterday. Today was the start of the work day, so it might get more intense towards the evening again. There were also arrests according to Twitter, and other issues are raised such as the deregulation of the status of the national Parks, so they could open them to markets.
A Brief Historical Background to the Conflict:
AKP has been very successful in breaking the rule of the traditional secular elite structure and capturing the state apparatus during its first two terms. Just as one of the AKP ministers said, internal and external conditions were overlapping in favour of AKP. For example, the post 9/11 US policy, crisis in the EU, rising of the BRICS, etc. Due to a massive privatisation program, reforms/deregulation in health, education, social security and the labour market, they could attract massive foreign investments. Large portion of the oil profits from the Gulf, some say, were carried by cash-filled large planes.
Massive infrastructure and city transformation projects have been launched and tenders given to emerging new 'green' Anatolian capital, middle and small-sized entrepreneurs transformed and interlocked to these internationalising capital groups. Most importantly, traditionally ruling military cadre was jailed and the rest controlled. Secret service and other state apparatus as well, like the juridical system, was totally captured by the government, but also its ally international Gulen Cult, whose leader Fetullah Gulen is living in the US. And the cult is especially strong in controlling the police forces; and President Gul happens to be the man of Gulen.
This also meant commoditisation of rivers, lakes, forests, beaches, parks and trees that are potentially providing large grants to be transferred to the new emerging Islamic elite. Among many other platforms formed in last years Gezi Park Resistance Platform, alliance of organisations, left parties and groups were active in the fight against the expansion of neo-liberalism to all spheres of life.
This is all for now. I will try to write more on the 'Capulcu' character of the movement and configuration of force alliances.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick