The Turkish Protests Explained

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Denis Foynes – Protests and violence have been rocking Turkey for a week now as government official continue to deny that this is the beginning of the “Turkish Spring.”

The unrest began on May 31 when protesters gathered in Gezi Park to object to the government’s plan to redevelop the park into a shopping mall. Opponents of the idea say the park is of the few green spaces left in central Istanbul.

However, police used tear gas to try to get rid of the environmental campaigners. This heavy police action upset many more people across Turkey and pushed them to join the protests. In Istabul they took over the park and next door Taksim Square. This area has now become the hub of a wider anti-governmental movement. They are unhappy with much of what Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is doing. Many Turkish citizens accuse him of acting like a dictator.

However, the Prime Minister has been elected three times in fair elections. He has many supporters among the working class and from the countries conservative and religious population who believe that he is a strong leader who has greatly improved their quality of life.

The protestors have two main demands. One, they want Gezi Park to remain untouched and two, they want the police to stop using heavy handed tactics against peaceful protestors.

However, Prime Minister Erdogan has stated that the plans to redevelop a park will go ahead despite the unrest. This statement looks likely to fan the flames of unrest. The local stock market reflects this, it crashed by 5% after his announcement.

This unrest will cause a lot of harm to Turkey’s EU accession hopes.

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