Living in the United States, it is hard to imagine what it would be like to have your rights strictly limited. We can’t fathom how it would feel if, during a peaceful protest, all forms of communication were disassembled and we were sprayed down with tear gas. We must try to place ourselves in that situation, or at least realize injustice when it is staring at us in the face.
But it’s not.
The human rights violations that are occurring in Istanbul, Turkey are hardly being televised abroad, and there is virtually no mention of it at all within local news stations.
The media blackout first began after Turkish citizens, ranging from students, professionals, parents and their children gathered in Istanbul’s Geri Park (located in Taksim Square) to prevent and protest the government’s plan to demolish the park in order to build yet another shopping mall. In the midst of people gathering with books and blankets, bulldozers arrived, along with police officers armed with tear gas.
The local news stations were nowhere to be found. As the number of protesters multiplied, so did the number of police. Eventually the metro was shut down, roads were blocked and ferries were cancelled, thus closing all points leading into and out of Taksim Square.
This didn't stop the protesters. People from different religions, ideologies, and backgrounds continued to gather and made their way on foot. Meanwhile, riot police assaulted protesters by setting fire to their tents and spraying them with pepper and tear gas and pressurized water. The people involved in this demonstration are fighting for Gezi Park, but also for their freedom.
Turkish government has shut the city down and is trying to paint its own citizens as dangerous because they oppose the demolition of a park for the construction of a shopping mall.
The Istanbul riot must be viewed in conjunction with the polarization of Turkish politics. A greater, more profound chasm has formed between Kemalist seculars and Islamists. Recently, a series of laws have been enforced concerning abortion, cesarean birth, alcohol consumption, and even lipstick color. The fight for Gezi Park is a concrete representation of the fight for freedom. In this instance, where voices are silenced, it is our responsibility as citizens of the world to spread the word about the injustices occurring everyday.
Photographs via The Telegraph, The Guardian, NBC News and The Belfast Telegraph