Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Listening to Taksim

As resistance to the unprecedented police violence unleashed by Erdogan’s government against the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression continues in Turkey, the original scale of the resistance movement that crystallized into being on May 31, 2013 has mushroomed in lightning speed. What began as the protection struggle of Gezi Park in Taksim Square has now evolved into demonstrations of solidarity in several squares and streets of Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and other provinces.

One uniting feature of these public demonstrations is their inclusiveness of multiple currents of opposition to PM Tayyip Erdogan’s rule. Yet the roots and forms of Taksim revolt are both complex and evolving. As GIT North America newsfeeds resume, we present analytical snapshots taken by members of GIT – NA working group regarding this historically novel stage of resistance to ruling party AKP’s suppression of freedoms of expression.

Gülay Türkmen-Dervişoğlu traces the moment of formation of resistance at Gezi Park and the coalition behind the protest in Open Democracy. Evren Savcı highlights the social context of opposition to AKP’s neoliberal policies in Jadaliyya. The focus of Umut Özge’s critical contribution to Open Democracy is the simplistic templates often used in mainstream media to understand the emerging resistance in Turkey

In a stark contrast to the censorship prevalent in Turkish TV during the first days of the protests and truncated images of civil unrest in international media, Ariel Salzmann conveys the diversity of Taksim revolt and its emerging contribution to an expansion of civil discourse in her live interview at Canadian main news network CTV News. Similarly, Ayça Çubukçu underscores the promise of Taksim as an experimentation with direct democracy in an interview toward the end of a BBC Two news report (provided as a Youtube link here to facilitate global access).

If one aim of GIT – NA is to produce and give an overview of critical research regarding repression of freedom of thought, another aim is to listen to the voices of resistance to this repression and to bear witness as the starting point of research. These voices are indeed multiple. For a glimpse into their multiplicity and coherence you can read the statement that Taksim Solidarity, the umbrella group of numerous rights and political organizations, issued to the public and presented to the government on June 5.