Πέμπτη, 27 Ιουνίου 2013

The Old Ways Die Hard in Turkey

"I have worked in war zones but Taksim was terrible", said freelance journalist Ahmet Sikon June 11, 2013. "The security forces were hunting people down. Media personnel are targeted twice over. By demonstrators who think they are siding with the government and not covering events properly. And by the security forces, who deliberately fire at us."
On the evening of June 15th, protests that had rocked Istanbul for the past three weeks came to a tipping point. Police swarmed Gezi Park, the epicentre of Turkey's recent anti-government demonstrations, and unleashed a wave of violence and arbitrary arrests on protesters and journalists alike. According to eyewitnesses, protesters were mercilessly beaten and gassed, including in the hotels where they took refuge, while journalists were targeted by police with beatings, detainments and arrests.
This, unfortunately, is the norm in Turkey. After clearing out Taksim Square on June 11, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan then made good on his promise to clear out Gezi Park. Since demonstrations began in May, Turkey's fledgling democracy has been shaken to its core. Over the past decade, Turkey has made astonishing economic and political progress, but recently progress has stalled on the political front. And while Gezi Park might have caught much of the world off-guard, the protests embody the political inertia of Turkey's past, as civil society has come head-on with the AKP's stalling democratization process. One glaring example is the repression of the media.

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