What you should know about the uprising in Turkey

Saturday night, I posted something on Facebook about the recent uprisings in Turkey, expressing both my support and frustration. (My support because, from what I can tell, the people taking to the streets across the country are largely folks who, like me, are interested in fighting for secular government, and the rights of individuals to stand up against the corporate entities that exert so much control over our lives. My frustration because the news reports that I’ve been able to find have been spotty and unsatisfying at best.) Well, after posting my comment, I received a message from a Turkish-American reader of this website by the name of Ebru Uras with links to several articles on recent developments in Turkey. I then followed up, as I’m known to do, by sending a barrage of questions, and demanding answers. Well, it would appear as though Ebru stayed up all night answering them… Here’s our exchange. I hope you find it as informative as I did.

MARK: Before we get started, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

EBRU: Sure thing – I was born and grew up in Ann Arbor. My parents emigrated from Turkey in the mid 1970s for my dad to go to grad school at the University of Michigan. I left home when I was 17 and bounced between the East Coast and Europe until I joined the Foreign Service in 2006. My first tour was in Islamabad and I then served briefly on the Central Africa and Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey desks. The job wasn’t a fit for a many different reasons so I came back in the fall of 2010 for what was supposed to be a transitional ‘figure things out’ phase. And here I am. While I still haven’t figured much out, I’ve realised that I like Ann Arbor and the work I’m doing here (general manager at my mother’s her restaurant, Ayse’s Cafe). And that not everything needs to/can be be figured out.

Like most first generation Americans, I follow Turkish politics closely and did my Master’s work on Turkey. However, the bulk of my earlier career was working on transatlantic issues so I wouldn’t consider myself an expert. More like an avid news junkie who has a vested personal interest in what is happening in Turkey right now.

MARK: So, what happened? As I understand it, everything started about five days ago, when a relatively small group of people showed up at a park in Istanbul, to protest its privatization, and the tearing down of 100 year old trees to make way for a new shopping mall… and then the police got involved, and things escalated.

EBRU: Yes, that is how it all started. There were peaceful protests, I believe all of last week, which didn’t seem to be anything too out of the ordinary and were followed more peripherally in the media. The government just passed a law that alcohol couldn’t be served after 10:00 PM, and not within 100 feet of a mosque, which was a huge news story. Now that doesn’t seem too unreasonable, except that Turks tend to run on a very Southern European schedule and eat late. And 100 feet from a mosque can pretty much rule out a huge chunk of Istanbul and the country. And laws like this tend to really discourage tourism. And there have been a series of laws passed which indicate encroaching Islamisation in a country that has a very strong secular tradition. And I could go on. And on.

So a pretty innocuous group of people were protesting the razing of Gezi Park in the Taksim neighborhood and occupied it. The incidents really took off when the police brutally raided the park early Friday morning and used water cannons and tear gas on peaceful demonstrators. And the images were shocking. What initially was a contained protest escalated and continues to escalate. The harsher the police were, the more people protested and the more the protests became against the ruling AKP party. As many commentators have said, the initial police action was the straw that broke the camel’s back, coming at a time when discontent with the government was increasing. The government policy towards the protesters provided a symbol that a large part of the population could galvanize around. #occupygezi stopped being about the lack of green space in Istanbul and about Turkish democracy.

MARK: Just how much has the movement grown over this weekend? How many cities in addition to Istanbul and Ankara have seen protest movements arise? And do you have any idea how many people are involved? According to Amnesty International, Over 1,000 people are thought to be injured, many of them seriously.” And there have been unsubstantiated reports of at least two protesters having been killed. But hard numbers are hard to come by.

EBRU: Based on my sources, the protests spread to 48 cities with major activity in the capital Ankara and the coastal city of Izmir. A friend who was at Taksim Saturday said there were 100,000 people on the square. I haven’t yet seen any confirmed reports of casualties, just lots of gruesome footage. There is a news blackout, so reliable sources are hard to come by. I’m following Twitter and Facebook feeds of friends and family I know who are taking part, watching live streaming TV, and the reading general media. It’s after 2:00 AM now, and I suspect when this blog goes live, protests will have subsided in some places and spread to others, and that there are more concrete figures for casualties.

MARK: My knowledge of Turkish politics is extremely limited, but my sense is that, while this has to do with the corporate takeover of public space, at least on the surface, it has a great deal to do with the growing power of religious conservatives, and Turkey’s move away from the more western, secular direction set out by Atatürk in the early 1920’s.

EBRU: I agree, though it is a bit more nuanced. I think there was a substantial part of the population who voted for PM Erdogan and the AKP not because of their personal religious affiliations, but because they were able to bring popular changes, including economic growth. Turkish foreign policy grew more independent and assertive under the Erdogan regime and the government seemed to provide a healthy check to the military. The Turkish Republic has had three military coups and two soft coups since its founding, and there have been many undemocratic measures enacted (some would argue necessarily) to protect Turkish democracy and secularism. These extend to the development of a so-called Deep State with undue influence. People might have complained about the increased presence of women in headscarves, or the deeply troubling Ergenekon prosecutions. They nonetheless thought the government was working for the greater good. These protests and the government’s reaction to them – police brutality, media blackouts, Erdogan’s own obstinance – have dispelled that myth.

MARK: Can you explain to me how this convergence of religious fundamentalism and pro-corporate philosophy in Turkey came to be? They say that politics makes strange bedfellows, but it seems like an odd coalition to me.

EBRU: Like most places, power and money tend to go hand in hand, regardless of religious affiliation. I don’t think the AKP is pro-corporate due to Islamic reasons, I think they are pro-corporate due to the kickbacks they get. And I think corporations supported them because they provided political stability, enabling economic growth.

MARK: While I’m inclined to dislike officials that seek to lead their nations away from secularism, and in the direction of religious rule, even if only slightly, I’m reminded by my friend Juan Cole that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was democratically reelected in June, 2011, and that his Justice and Development Party (AKP) is still quite popular. (Erdogan was President before being elected to serve as Prime Minister.) Cole describes AKP as a “center-right” party that has only “a slight religious tinge,” but, when I look at the legislation they’ve enacted recently, I have to wonder if they’re headed down the proverbial slippery slope that other countries, like Iran, have gone down. Among other things, as you mentioned, they’ve recently restricted alcohol sales after 10:00 PM, and, I just recently read that the state airline has banned certain shades of lipstick. Is there any evidence, from your perspective, that there’s a growing movement among the young, educated, and/or non-Muslim in response to this?

EBRU: I think this party was always more than a center-right party, though I don’t think they were, or are, as revolutionary as, say, Iran in 1979. And I also think there is a growing movement among among the youth and the educated against some of these reforms.

MARK: Here’s how Cole sees it… “Although some on Twitter were talking about Erdogan as a dictator, and the protests as a Turkish spring, it doesn’t seem to me a good analogy,” he says. “Erdogan has been repeatedly and fairly elected as prime minister. Unlike a Mubarak or a Ben Ali, he doesn’t run a police state and hasn’t blocked people economically. The protests appear to have been relatively small. The call for the fall of the government is undemocratic. If people don’t like Erdogan, they should campaign for his opponents in the next election.” I’m curious as to what you make of that… Is this just a handful of leftist complainers who are disgruntled over the outcome of a democratic election? Or is what we’re seeing a sign of something larger?

EBRU: From what I’m seeing from my friends and family – most of whom are pretty mainstream – this is something much larger than a few leftist complainers. And I hope it brings about positive change for Turkey. I do agree that the Arab Spring analogy isn’t apt because of the different contexts (historical, political, cultural, economic etc.) between Arab states and Turkey. However another issue is that the center-left (the ruling CHP party) has been unable to find a galvanizing figure, and there seems to be an ossification within the Turkish political elite. There are some truly amazing young people working in NGOs, non-profits, academia, and the arts doing very innovative work, but my impression and observation is that few of them go into political careers.

MARK: Regardless of how people may feel about this creeping fundamentalism, my sense is that most people, given how well the Turkish economy has been performing, might be willing to look the other way. At least it would seem to me that folks, seeing what Greece and Spain are going through, might be willing to abstain from alcohol and certain shades of lipstick when outside the home in exchange for the 5% annual growth they’ve been experiencing under Erdogan…. Do you happen to know youth unemployment rates in Turkey? I’d be curious to compare them with those in Egypt, for instance, where we recently saw a real revolution start to take shape. I know there was more to the situation in Egypt than high unemployment, but it seems like that hopelessness among the youth was the fuel that kept the fire burning.

EBRU: I don’t know exact youth unemployment rates in Turkey. My gut tells me that it is lower than Greece and Spain and certainly Egypt. And that while jobs are not easy to come by, the outlook isn’t as grim. My extended family are pretty solidly middle class and originally from central Anatolia, so not really part of the elite. From my own anecdotal observations my cousins and their friends have fared about as well as most youth. The opportunities are by no means enough, but I don’t think it’s that much easier to graduate with a Bachelors degree here in the States, carrying a five figure student loan, and face our job market. And the Turkish social security blanket does seem to work, if imperfectly.

MARK: Is there a free press in Turkey? I ask because I’m seeing very little mention of these protests, and, what I am seeing, is often proven wrong. For instance, yesterday there were quite a few pictures making their way around the internet which purported to show the Turkish people shutting a down bridge in Istanbul. Later, though, several people were claiming that the photos in question were taken over a year ago, at a marathon, during which several thousand people ran across the bridge in question. Which makes me wonder if there are any reliable news sources on the ground in Turkey, offering definitive coverage.

EBRU: The Turkish press is pretty raucous and there are numerous newspapers, TV and radio channels and blogs. However, freedom of the press has been eroded under this government with more journalists being arrested and restrictions enacted. One of the most frightening revelations of these past few days have been how much the government can pressure the media to blackout coverage. At least the mainstream media. This has also galvanized the protest movement – Turks at home and also expat Turks have taken to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to share information, mostly with positive results. There are a few live streaming TV and radio stations (off the top of my head, Halk TV) which are providing live coverage.

MARK: Is there an opposition candidate that appears to be able to pull together these various disenfranchised groups and pose a credible threat to the powers-that-be?

EBRU: If there is, I would love to know his or her name and go campaign on their behalf.

MARK: What’s the best possible scenario at this point?

EBRU: First, the state perpetuated violence needs to stop and people need to be allowed to return to their neighborhoods and daily lives. I personally hope pressure on the government increases and they call for early elections. I also hope media heads are held accountable for their blatant acquiescence.

As ugly as these past few days were and continue to be, there have been some deeply moving moments surrounding #occupygezi: people setting up impromptu hospitals. Apartment residents allowing protesters to take shelter. Protesters cleaning up the streets. Turks of very different backgrounds (social, economic, ethnic and religious) and all ages marching side by side. This is an opportunity for Turkey to strengthen its democratic institutions and allow greater participation in the political process.

MARK: I just read that Prime Minister Erdogan dismissed the protests today as the work of, “a few looters.” It would seem as though he thinks this might all just blow over… And, toward that end, I’ve also heard today that he plans to leave tomorrow for a four-day trip out of the country. One wonders if he’s just trying to ignore it, or if he’s afraid to stay in Turkey.

EBRU: It is hard to say. I think there is a serious disconnect between the government’s perception and messaging, and the actual situation on the ground. I was live-streaming early in the morning yesterday and the commentator noted that when the British soldier was killed in London recently, David Cameron cancelled his overseas trip and returned to London. The comment was in the context of what the value this Turkish government is placing on the lives and well-being of their citizens. Based on their current actions, it seems minimal. Erdogan going overseas would only confirm that impression.

MARK: I’m interested to know what, if anything, people here in the U.S. can do to help.

EBRU: I think keeping it present in the media is a huge, huge help so anything you wanted to disseminate about it would be very helpful. Read the papers, follow twitter, think, or write, or talk about it. This blog post is an amazing opportunity to get it out there and thank you for that. Everyone I’ve talked to in town seems to have a vague idea that something bad is going on, but nothing too specific and media blackouts don’t help. We tend to have very short attention spans even for domestic issues and the 24-hour cable news cycle does not encourage meaningful reflection, especially with distant issues that feel remote to most people.

If little changes, it might also be time to start writing our Representatives, Senators and Secretary of State to encourage the USG take a stronger position on the Turkish government’s actions.

Finally, I took part in a demonstration Saturday morning in front of the Ann Arbor post office to show solidarity. There were almost 120-130 people at the peak, though sadly they couldn’t get any local media coverage. In all fairness, the protest came together very last minute as events in Turkey were unfolding rapidly and continue to do so. I hope events will improve quickly and there will be no need for another gathering. I fear that I am wrong. My friends in Turkey have told me it is very encouraging for them to see pictures of #occupygezi in different places, so everyone would be welcome at any future local demonstrations.

[To keep track of events as they unfold in Turkey today, check out the Occupy Gezi Facebook page.]

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33 Comments

  1. Posted June 3, 2013 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Like Cole, I, too, took issue with the need for violent uprising and government overthrow.

    Mostly, I take issue with Americans, who supposedly cherish the idea of a fairly elected government, though appear to think this is a good means of political change. It’s too much, of course, to ask that Americans know anything about Turkey, however.

    Turkey is a democracy. Though not a defense of his policies, if Erdogan is so bad, they can vote him out of office.

    Regardless, the response from the government has been sickeningly heavy handed.

    Time for coffee….

  2. Brainless
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Peter, there is more to domocracy than waiting around getting your ass kicked until the next election. Your post makes you sound VERY conservative. You could have lifted that language from any of EOS’s posts about Bush.

  3. Edward
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    If we learned nothing else from Nazi Germany and the American south, it’s that being democratically elected doesn’t make one’s position correct or just.

  4. Meta
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    More images demonstrating the severity of what’s happening in Turkey.

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/45849/taksim-square-protests-13-photos-showing-severity-of-the-protests

  5. anonymous
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Just because someone is democratically elected does not mean that citizens don’t have a right to protest. That’s how democracies work.

  6. Knox
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    As you mentioned Egypt, I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good article on what happened there last year. Specifically I’m interested in what changes actually resulted from the uprising and whether or not it’s seen as successful in retrospect.

  7. double anonymous
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Foreign service officers read this site?

  8. Ebru
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    double anonymous – former Foreign Service Officers. Former. And very much an Ann Arborite first and foremost.
    Knox – I can try to dig up some good links – I tend to look at Foreign Policy.com, the Economist, Times, Guardian, Spiegel, and le Monde for mainstream sources. Oh, and Al Jazeera and Ha’aretz.

  9. Elliott
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this, Ebru. It’s much appreciated.

    Best of luck to your friends and family in Turkey.

  10. Ebru
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Elliott. I really, really appreciate people reading about the issue. Everyone I personally know who has gone to protest (in Istanbul and Ankara) has been tear-gassed but is okay. It is scary and Friday was especially awful because it was very, hard to get ahold of some people. My friends and family, for the most part, do seem cautiously optimistic and very determined to keep on protesting the government, which ameliorates my fears.

  11. K2
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Do people have a sense as to what the result would be if an early election were called for? In the absence of a compelling opposition candidate, isn’t it possible that the current PM would win again?

  12. EOS
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    These aren’t exactly peaceful protests: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2334734/Britons-warned-steer-clear-Turkey-1-700-protesters-arrested-riots-rock-country-day.html

    Turkey has been secular, but is targeted by Muslim extremists to join the Ummah. It is the outside agitators that are demanding a return to Sharia in government. If its people don’t rise up against external forces, Turkey will join the ranks of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. If they seek help from Hezbollah, they risk becoming like Iran. U.S. interests suffer under either outcome. Same game is playing out in neighboring Syria these days.

  13. Edward Elliott
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    double anonymous you’ve got me in stitches!

  14. dot dot dash
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I wonder what it would be like to live in a society where people rose up in response to corporate overreach and the loss of public space.

  15. Ebru
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    K2 – that is such a great point which totally flew over my head. Let’s just say that there as been a lot going on and my sleep deprived brain is in complete overload. I read earlier today that President Gul made statements supporting the protesters. He seems to be a far more moderate figure than Prime Minister Erdogan. Perhaps he would take over the Prime Minister role and there would be Presidential elections?
    EOS – I disagree. And would be very, very hesitant of quoting the Daily Mail on any topic, much less one as nuanced and complicated as Turkish domestic politics and regional developments in the Near East.

  16. Mr. Y
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    “MarkMaynard.com: where retired foreign service officers converse with trolls on affairs of state”

    Am I the only one cringing right now, fearful of how Ebru’s discussion with EOS will go? It’s like when a crazy drunken uncle walks into the living room as you’re entertaining a distinguished guest. I feel like yelling at my screen, “Please don’t engage with him!”

  17. Elf
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    A friend swears by vinegar soaked bandanas. Hopefully that’s of use to those of you in Turkey.

  18. Posted June 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I can’t remember any of EOS’ posts about Bush. I don’t think I was posting until 2008.

    Regardless, if believing that voting is a better way of solving problems than setting shit on fire makes me a conservative, then I am happy to be one.

    I take no issue with people in Turkey fighting back against violent police action.

    I do take issue with Americans who believe that the solution to a Democratic (party) administration is to start forming armed militias and begin shooting people. No one has said that here (that I know of), but comments on other sites have.

  19. Todd R.
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all as you strive to occupy the future.

  20. Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Ozgun Ulupinar, one of the organizers of the protest in Ann Arbor, left the following comment on a Facebook thread about this post:

    Thank you for spreading the news and providing public awareness. People in Turkey needs this. I wish there were some picture form the protest in the world in this post to show our support to Turkey, because protestor getting power from hearing or seeing these support ( I know it from the first hand). But at least it talks about the protest happened in Ann Arbor. I wish local news would post our protest in Ann Arbor. I am very sad that they did not come, even thought I contacted them in advance both via email and phone.

  21. Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    And my friend Sinem Dorter, who grew up in Turkey, but now finds herself living in London, had the following to share in another Facebook thread that popped up around this post.

    …I receive lots of messages and photos from my friends who are peacefully protesting our rights on the streets. In parallel, those of us who don’t live in Turkey or cannot join the protests in person try to spread the word through their personal networks, raise awareness through social media and write emails/letters to numerous organizations and parties. One of the last messages that I shared on my FB wall includes some links to forums and websites that provide regular updates on this subject. You can also visit http://www.occupygezipics.tumblr.com to see an inventory of pictures that the protestors have taken over the past 3 days. Also if you have a Twitter account, numerous people use the following hash tags to provide updates: #occupygezi | #occupytaksim | #direngeziparki | #direnankara…

  22. Meta
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    The tear gas being used is Made In The USA.

    https://bayareaintifada.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/updates-on-the-ground-turkey/

  23. Meta
    Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    “Turks are closing their bank accounts and withdrawing their money from banks owned by the mainstream media bosses which blacked out mass protests against the government. Garanti Bank lost 13% of its share price.”

    http://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/1fl25g/turks_are_closing_their_bank_accounts_and/

  24. EOS
    Posted June 4, 2013 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Ebru,

    You seem sincere and legitimately concerned about the fate of Turkey. Many protesters may very well be motivated by anti-corporate sentiment. But you’ve got to admit that 100,000 are not motivated to be subjected to tear gas and violence for a small park. The original protest has morphed into an anti-government protest, and if the violence continues, it may be difficult for Erdogan to remain in power. You, yourself, mentioned early elections would be welcomed. Erdogan’s concessions to Islamic principles are significantly less than the next popularly elected leader will usher in. An abrupt change at this time will most likely result in a less secular form of government.

    The popular uprising in Egypt was only necessary to oust Mubarak. The Arab Spring embrace of democratic principals hasn’t appeared. Opposition parties were weak and divided, thus allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to fill the vacuum. Yes, Egypt and Turkey are two very different countries – it’s the group that wants to control both that is the same and is again using the same tactics.

  25. Meta
    Posted June 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    From Common Dreams:

    As RT reports, citing the Turkish newspaper Sozcu, the Ankara government “has bought $21 million” worth of “tear gas and pepper spray – mainly from US and Brazil – over the past 12 years.” The amount of both, the news agency reported, was equivalent to 62 tons of noxious, eye-burning, cough-inducing chemical agents either pressurized into canisters or available for the spray guns used by police.

    Read more:
    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/04-4

  26. Felch
    Posted June 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Twitter arrests in Izmir (3rd biggest city in Turkey)

    16 people are taken into custody in Izmir for encouraging rebellion using social media.

    (DHA) 16 people are taken into custody for encouraging rebellion using social media and making propaganda.

    Polis raided 38 addresses and took the ones they captured to the Police station.

    It is reported that the number of people in custody may increase while the police is still questioning the ones taken into custody.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/1fooje/turkish_police_started_arresting_people_for/

  27. Fletch
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    and to think all us liberals made fun of occupy. but when it’s happening abroad, we’re big supporters.

  28. Elliott
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    “liberals made fun of occupy”

    What are you talking about? What liberals made fun of Occupy?

  29. Meta
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    “Outraged, yet not surprised.”

    Turkish democracy supporters take out a full-page add in the New York Times.

    http://know-your-system.blogspot.com/2013/06/ny-times-fullpage-ad-by-occupy-gezi.html

  30. Mr. Y
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Interesting article on the BBC about how this might impact Turkey’s finances.

    Here’s an excerpt.

    While the impact of the demonstrations on the economy appears to be limited to a part of the tourism industry for now, even a small bump can be magnified in a country where much of the economy hinges on the services sector.

    It makes up 63% of the country’s GDP. Turkey is the sixth most popular destination in the world, having attracted 31 million tourists in 2011 and valuing the industry at $30bn.

    “It doesn’t help that there are photos [in the media] showing the smoke-filled lobby of the InterContinental,” said Ms Ozden, adding that the tourism industry was trying to assuage fears by promoting the protests as a healthy symptom of a working democracy.

    Turkish businesses are nervous, uncertain whether the protests are causing just a blip in an otherwise stellar economic performance or putting them on the cusp of a damaging decline.

    Jitters were particularly felt in Turkey’s stock market, which plunged by more than 10% on Monday – its sharpest drop in 10 years – as investors, many of them foreign, started to pull their money out of the country.

    Stocks continued their descent on Thursday after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would go ahead and root up Gezi Park and replace it with a shopping mall – a plan that had originally sparked the unrest.

    Turkey’s economic growth has skyrocketed since the early 2000s – around the same time Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) assumed power – after implementing austerity measures advised by the International Monetary Fund. The 1990s had been spent in gloomy stagnation.

    While a politically conservative party, the AKP championed a more liberal view of the economy, opening it up to global financial markets and privatising state assets – moves that earned strong supporters in the business community.

    In 2011, while most Western economies were feeling the effects of the financial crisis, Turkey’s growth rate was 8.5%, helped by reforms – for example, relaxing barriers for start-ups and companies, and removing travel visas for Russian citizens to boost tourism.

    Growth declined sharply last year to 2.5% as the global economy stalled, but the IMF expected the situation to improve “barring new external shocks”.

    Foreign companies were lured by the perceived political stability under Mr Erdogan’s decade-long rule: Microsoft, Coca-Cola, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and clinical research groups set up regional headquarters in Istanbul.

    The US drugs company Pfizer last month announced it was moving its European Union headquarters from Brussels to Istanbul.

    It also helped that credit rating agencies upgraded their ratings on Turkey’s sovereign debt – Fitch gave it investment grade last November for the first time in 19 years.

    But much of the growth in the past decade has masked a fragility – a dependency on external debt, which, at a moment of crisis can leave a country dangerously exposed to market volatility and the whims of investors. Short-term investment from abroad has surged in recent years, while long-term investment has fallen.

  31. Jive T
    Posted June 7, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Occupy Genzi Michigan now has a presence on Facebook.

  32. Meta
    Posted June 9, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    The Turkish press may not be covering the uprising, but Turkish game shows are a different matter.

    While most of Turkey’s journalists were carefully avoiding mention of the tens of thousands of protesters who poured into the streets this week, in a show of deference to the government that enraged supporters of the demonstrations, the host of one Turkish game show found a way to raise the issue not once but 70 times during a broadcast on Monday night.

    As dozens of flabbergasted viewers reported on Twitter, Ali Ihsan Varol, the star of the Bloomberg TV quiz show “Kelime Oyunu,” or “The Word Game,” crafted the questions so that all of the answers — phrases like “Taksim,” “gas mask,” “Twitter” and “dictator” — were thinly veiled references to the government’s failed crackdown on dissent and the way the news media blackout had been undermined by social networking.

    Watch video:
    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/civil-disobedience-on-a-turkish-game-show/?ref=world

  33. Posted June 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    An update forwarded along just now by my friend Sinem.

    Istanbulites are under brutal attack and violence of the police and gendarmarie forces since 15th June evening when the police attack against Gezi Parkı started after the heavy provocations of PM Erdogan. The city is under clouds of tear gas of all kinds, including the prohibited kinds, used over all limits. Taksim square looks like a war field and now is closed to public access. Rubber bullets, water cannons scorching chemicals-acid and blast bombs are widely utilized until the first hours of this morning. There are queues of naked people waiting for aid in front of hospitals, yet hospitals and hotels that are used as shelters are also attacked with gas, over and over. Hotels around Taksim square are being evacuated due to extreme use of gas; numerous children are lost and heavily affected during the tear gas attack; a pregnant women lost her 3,5 months old baby. 132 people are reported to be seriously injured and 5 people are burnt due to chemical use.

    Briefly the JDP government is waging a war against its own citizens by committing crimes of humanity: attacking hospitals and volunteering health care personnel; using tear gas and other chemicals inside houses, hotels and hospitals; closing the identity numbers on the police helmets; exercising widespread censorship over freedom of press; putting limitations over the Internet and prevention of media access. Police and gendarmarie forces attacked against thousands of Istanbulites marching from every corner of Istanbul in order to reach the Taksim square until sunrise by cutting the main highways and even walking across the Bosphorus bridge. Many people who are witnessed to be arrested by police cannot be found in the police stations.

    Despite this war-like attack is evidenced by visual material and personal witnessing of various respectful members of the progressive international community, Istanbul governor and other government members claim that the police operation was “smooth” and no one was seriously injured. This discourse, beyond being a humiliation of the pains and suffering of Istanbulites, is heralding new crimes of humanity that are planned to be committed by the government following the “victory meetings” of PM Erdogan, today in Istanbul after the one yesterday in Ankara.

    This brutal attack of the police forces should be stopped. The government is and will be responsible for the following events. We urge the progressive international community to strongly remind the JDP government its responsibility with all available means.

    The mainstream media which is spreading disinformation in favour of a government which is waging war against its all people should be strongly reminded its democratic responsibilities.

    We are seriously concerned with the health status of our citizens who are injured and would be injured. We urge the progressive international community especially to warn the government about the attacks against the children, pregnant women, injured citizens, voluntary health personnel, temporary health shelters and hospitals.

    Yesterday evening ten thousands of people marched from every corner of Istanbul and today this march will continue. It is not possible to stop this march of our people.

    We urge the progressive international community to start urgent solidarity actions with this democratic march of our people.

    Oya Ersoy
    People’s Houses Chairperson

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  1. […] can read the interview at Maynard’s web site here. Ebru has also made her Facebook page publicly available with the intent that more people learn […]

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