Protests in Turkey: The Timeline and What People on the Street Want
The nationwide demonstrations in Turkey constitute one of the most significant events in the country’s recent history. As the events continue to unfold, it is important to keep track of the evolution of key developments, in an attempt to preserve an understanding of the bigger picture. This collective work aims to serve as a basis for a street declaration yet to be written by the opinion leaders, and also as an archive for future references (click here to read it in Turkish).
Table of contents / İçindekiler
Timeline chart of events
On May 27th 2013, a small group of protesters gathered in Gezi Park, Istanbul, in an attempt to stop the clearing of trees that were being cut down to build a shopping mall. The protesters were met with brutal force by Turkish police, which quickly inspired a high level of participation in a public movement from people of diverse backgrounds and ideologies.
The uprising, which shares similarities both with the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement in the USA, was almost entirely ignored by Turkish mainstream media. Despite the lack of attention from media outlets, the demonstrations spread to many cities throughout Turkey, particularly Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Eskişehir by the third day.
Although the two-day silence of the government was broken by statements given to the press by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself, as well as his advisor Ibrahim Kalın, the condescending and threatening tone of these remarks failed to bring calm to the public unrest.
Encompassing the interests of a variety of people, this civil uprising is a great opportunity for a brighter Turkey. Given the significance of this event, it is essential to keep track of the milestones of this movement, whose many details are already fading out of our collective memory.
The timeline chart below aims to keep track of the evolution of events since the 27th of May:
The chart is currently being updated in Turkish, while there is an ongoing effort to translate it into different languages. It will very soon be available in English.
What do the people on the street want?
Initially, this movement may have been sparked simply by widespread opposition to the policies of AKP. However, interpreting these events in a broader context than sole AKP opposition, and identifying them as a struggle of the people against the oppression of the authority, may play an important role in the search for long-term solutions for Turkey.
In fact, the violence to which people have been subjected in Gezi Park, Taksim Square and other places throughout the country since the beginning of the protests portrays a picture not at all unfamiliar to the Turkish people.
University students wearing headscarves, workers seeking their rights, and minorities claiming their right to education in their native languages are examples of groups of people who have experienced this type of oppression and police brutality before. Perhaps one thing all clusters of Turkish society will agree upon is the fact that essential freedoms should not be the subject of arbitrary privileges that change with the rise and fall of different ruling ideologies.
This leaderless movement that started on May 27th will fulfill its mission only if the people succeed in explicitly stating their demands. Denial of freedoms have a prominent history in Turkey, and lack of freedom is not entangled with the potential departure of any rulıng party from power. Even the people who today support the policies of AKP once suffered from the same type of oppression before AKP came to power. Long term change in Turkey is not contingent upon the departure of AKP, but instead depends upon a complete list of demands for the ruling power to address.
Documenting the demands of the people, who are protesting on the streets, is an important beginning to a declaration that embraces all views, and as a democratic platform, social media is quite suitable to gather those opinions and demands.
The following list is a compilation of issues raised by individuals who posted tweets tagged with #OccupyGeziManifestosu, or comments on other social media outlets (no sorting criteria are used):
- Taksim Project must be cancelled.
- The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Draft Law must be withdrawn from the National Assembly’s agenda.
- The right to congregate and demonstrate must be secured under the constitution.
- Democracy must not be practiced only at election times: A democratic process based on community participation must be adopted.
- City councils must take an active role in decisions related to the city and the citizens’ opinions must be taken into account.
- Electoral threshold must be lowered (which is 10% in Turkey).
- Safety of elections must be ensured; an e-voting system must be implemented.
- Internet filters must be removed and Internet access should not be restricted.
- Bans affecting people’s lifestyles, including the ban on alcohol and the ban on headscarves in state-owned buildings must be lifted.
- Freedom of information must be raised to international standards.
- Media censorship must be considered illegal.
- Compulsory military service must be repealed.
- Military courts must be abolished.
- The US military bases in Turkey must be closed.
- Students in custody must be released.
- All discrimination based on nationality, ethnic origin, skin color, gender, sexual orientation and sexual identity must be prohibited.
- The destruction of nature across the country must be stopped.
- Environmental and animal rights must be protected by the law.
- Local referendums must be held in the regions in question for building nuclear plants, thermal plants or dams.
- Environmental Impact Assessment reports for future dam projects must be prepared by independent scientific institutions, not by companies certified by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization.
- Gezi Park, Taşkışla, İnönü Stadium, Dolmabahçe Palace and Maçka Park must be preserved as public spaces.
- Science, universities and the arts must be liberated.
- Anatolia’s cultural heritage must be protected.
- Religion section must be removed from government issued identification cards.
- Natural history museums, botanical gardens, art galleries must be prioritized over shopping malls.
- Taksim is a symbol: Taksim must be open to all peaceful congregations and demonstrations.
- The Law of Police Powers, the Civil Code, the Criminal Code, and the Code of Criminal Procedure must be democratized.
- Freedom of expression must be ensured at international standards.
- Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) must not be demolished.
- Turkey must come to terms with the Armenian Genocide.
- The government must investigate the assassination of Hrant Dink, massacre in Roboski and the Reyhanlı incident.
- The State Theaters and the State Opera and Ballet must not be shut down.
- The State must be impartial to all religions and sects.
- Individual and group lifestyles and lifestyle choices must be respected and protected by laws.
- Turkey must stop threatening Syria. Syrian refugees must be moved to safe locations far from the border.
- Police violence must stop.
- Civil organizations must be liberated, and unionization must be facilitated.
- Income inequality must be remedied.
- The wage ceiling must not be more than 10 times the minimum wage.
- The Prime Ministers’ discretionary funds must be regulated.
- Political transparency must be ensured. All political immunities must be repealed.
- Instead of making a new constitution, the 1961 constitution must be modernized.
- The rule of law must be unconditionally upheld, unlawful detention of people must be stopped.
- Mineral reserves must be nationalized.
- The Turkish Petroleum Corporation must be the only institution authorized for exploring and drilling oil.
- The Prime Minister’s office must be chaired in rotation.
- Basic sciences must be supported.
- Soldiers and journalists under arrest must be given a fair trial. Extrajudicial imprisonment for months and years must be stopped.
- The abortion law must be withdrawn.
- Once the new airport is opened, the existing airport at Yeşilköy, İstanbul should be transformed into a public park.
- Education at all levels must promote scientific and up-to-date content.
- Indicative labels must be mandatory on GMOs.
- Demonstrators taken into custody since May 27th must be released immediately with no legal ramifications.
- All barriers to active political participation must be removed.
- All bans on the congregations, rallies, parades and demonstrations must be lifted; the right to congregate and demonstrate must be fairly implemented.
- The people must be actively included in the control mechanism of civil society organizations.
- The Prime Minister’s office in the Beşiktaş must be relocated, and the pier must be opened to public.
- Journalists imprisoned for expressing their thoughts and contributing to people’s freedom of information must be released.
- Active participation of professional associations must be ensured in the processes involving the legal arrangements in their respective fields.
- Unsolved murders must be resolved, assailants must be prosecuted.
- The sexist education system must be reformed.
- Concrete steps must be taken towards securing children’s rights to education, healthcare and justice.
- Exploitation of labor must be stopped: permanent measures must be taken to protect workers’ rights and freedoms such as occupational health and safety, and flexible working hours.
- Domestic and small-size capital must be supported, monopoly must be prevented.
- Astronomic taxes on gasoline, alcohol and tobacco must be reduced.
- Access to safe and effective birth control methods must not require prescription; basic protection methods should be available to all at regional healthcare centers.
This list was last updated on 6 June 2013, Turkish Local Time 5:45 pm (EET, GMT +2).
We call the people of Turkey to complete this list to guide those who intend to compose a collective text.
This collective work is being updated as the events unfold, and is strengthened by your contributions. If you would like to contribute, we warmly welcome volunteers to translate the text and the timeline into other languages. If you would like to help us with translations, please contact email@example.com.
Authors and Contributors
The timeline chart in Turkish was created and is being updated by Mahir M. Yavuz, N. Kıvılcım Yavuz, Orkan Telhan, Ebru Kurbak and Ebru Baranseli. Information regarding #OccupyGeziManifestosu was collated with the help of Asu’ya Tüyolar and Onur Güzel. Server performance is supported by S. Çağlar Onur and Barış Metin.
Original post in Turkish can be found here. Translation to English is completed by Onuralp Söylemez, Mine Şengel, N. Kıvılcım Yavuz and Okşan Yılmaz (sorted by last name). Proof reading and final edits were done by Anoush Dadian.
Holds a PhD in Computer Science. Currently a Postdoctoral Researcher on Microbial Ecology in the USA. (a.murat.eren / gmail.com).