Last Friday, Turkish police cracked down on protesters who were holding a sit in to stop the government from removing trees from one of the last remaining green spaces in Istanbul, Taksim Square.
Authorities want to cut down 600 trees to make room for apartments, parking, a shopping mall.
You know, the usual.
Turkey is a country on the grow at the moment. It has taken a secular turn where capitalism has become the norm. It has a healthy economy, (for the region,) despite not being interesting to the West, (meaning, there's little oil there.) However, the US is interested in Turkey for geographical reasons. American investors are taking advantage of Turkey's willingness to sell by investing in various projects, some of which are good, like infrastructure, but most are cash grabs, like the building of airports they don't need.
However, Turkey's PM, Erdogen, has been in power for ten years now and seems to have gotten the back of the Turkey's youth. Over the years, it is claimed, his religious conservative views have become more and more invasive. To help understand this claim please read this
Yet this is not what really started this whole "Turkish Spring" idea. In it's simplest form, some students went into a park to stop the cutting down of some trees, then were brutally attacked by the police, acting on behalf of Erdogen and the government. So now their really pissed off and who can blame them?
Thus the protest has gone from "Don't cut down these trees!" to "Erdogen must go!"
The protests are no longer confined to Taksim square but are pocketing up all over the country.
It's difficult to say if Turkey is going to go the way of Egypt, of Syria, of the Occupy movement, or nowhere.
Everyone waits and watches.
But reduce it to it's lowest common denominators: 1.) The government is selling its resources to the highest bidder, ignoring prudence and logic. 2.) The government is using its conservativism against its own people, who don't agree with it.
To Canadians, this sounds very familiar.Consider this quote from Arzu Cerkezoglu, president of the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK), Erdogan and his government "should start caring about the wishes and demands of the people and the workers."
She accused the government of "starting a war" against the Turkish people.
"They banned the rights we won and deserve. They are selling the rivers, the mountains and have put all [Turkey's] assets on the open market," she said.
Under Erdogan's leadership, Turkey has boosted economic growth and raised its international profile.
But he has been a divisive figure at home..."
Turks revolt because the leader of the country, a man who has and is currently hijacking the country's resources for the financial gain of corporations, not citizens, continues by force.
We, on the other hand, simply allow it to happen.
Where is our Taksim Square?