The View From Their Insurrection

TURKEY-POLITICS-DEMO

A reader on the ground in Turkey shares his perspective:

I’m in Istanbul at the moment, and until this morning I was staying five minutes’ walk from Taksim Square. When I arrived there was tear gas everywhere, floating down the side-streets and punishing practically the entire Beyoglu neighbourhood. I can’t help but feel that this kind of collective punishment is doing plenty to turn people who would otherwise be content to sit aside against Tayyip Erdogan and his government. The protestors have been incredibly destructive to people’s property, especially down the main Isklidal street which is Istanbul’s main shopping avenue – but this hasn’t met with the kind of revulsion I saw a couple of years ago during the London riots, I think because the Istanbullos feel the protestors are defending rather than attacking the city. Whenever a crowd of protestors – who now wear gas masks as a badge of pride wherever they go – pass through town on their way to Taksim, ordinary, non-protesting people nevertheless stand up and applaud them as they go. There’s a quite diverse range of protestors – you have the usual anarchists and eco-warriors plus Kurdish nationalists, and I’ve even seen a couple of Hizbullah graffitos (though that’s probably just mischief-making) but on the whole it is just a range of ordinary people without any kind of political affiliation.

(Photo: Protestors clash with riot police near Turkish prime minister’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan office, between Taksim and Besiktas in Istanbul, on June 3, 2013, during a demonstration against the demolition of the park. By Gurcan Ozturk/Getty Images.