Taksim Protests Resume En Masse As Erdogan Loses Ground
Monday night, Ahmet Atakan, age 22, was shot in close range with a tear gas canister, causing him to fall from a rooftop in Hatay, Turkey. Reports suggest that he was part of the demonstrations to bring the murderer of Abdullah Cömert, killed by the police during the Taksim Protests, to justice. The demonstrations were also protesting the planned highway that will cut through Ankara's ODTÜ (Middle East Technical University), a long standing left-wing fort in Turkey. (A U.S. comparison of the proposal would be for the federal government to decide to build a highway running through Princeton, or Yale.)
Protests broke out nationwide following Atakan's funeral:
Ahmet Atakan's fall was caught on camera. Viewer discretion is advised.
Mass demonstrations have been taking place in Istanbul, Çanakkale, Ankara, ?zmir, and various other cities throughout the nation.
Considering the enormous concrete expanse that Taksim square has now become, fighting to preserve the green has some more legitimacy to it. The protests occuring now have less to do with environmental concerns and more with the fact the official death toll of people killed by the police has risen from 5 to 6, and the attendant police brutality that caused these unnecessary fatalities in the first place.
Coupled with Turkey losing its Olympic bid, the protests could spark stronger opposition movements against the government. The international community is as displeased with Erdogan as the Turkish public, and the Olympic Committee was unimpressed by how the government dealt with and is continuing to deal with the protests.
Here is the Turkish promotional video, which blends Rihanna's Diamonds with the morning call to prayer:
And here is the "Alternative" take, which contains scenes from the protests over the summer:
Although the loss of the bid is significant and signals a decline in Turkey's global clout, it is perhaps a good thing. After all, this is the most public defeat of the current government in recent memory. An article written by Mustafa Akyol for Al-Monitor's Turkey Pulse section mentions the unlikelihood of Erdogan relinquishing power on his own. The protests and the loss of the Olympic bid provides various opposition parties with an opportunity to strengthen their arguments against Erdogan.
His newly discovered address to first graders nation-wide, which attributes many scientific, economic and social developments in Turkey specifically to his own government, also suggests that he is not a man who is getting ready to retire. But combined with the increasing death toll, Erdogan may lose enough ground for a strong opposition to remove him from office, or, at the very least, prevent him from staying in power.