Business as usual

The resistance spreads to other parks in the city

By Victoria Khroundina | June 24, 2013

After Gezi Park was rather suddenly evacuated the night of Saturday June 15 – bulldozers and all – the resistance moved to other green spaces around the city early the next week.

One space seeing a particularly active occupation is Abbasağa Parkı in Beşiktaş. This lovely, medium-sized park (by Istanbul standards) with lots of trees and a good-sized amphitheatre, occasionally used to host concerts in the summer, has proved the perfect place to host meetings and demonstrations.

The above video, posted on June 19 by Guernica TV, shows the first of these meetings in Abbasağa. A substantial crowd of people of all ages and interests (football fans included) rose to their feet and shook hands in unison, observing a code of silence (which provides a nice parallel to the silent standing protests which have been taking place at Taksim square and other parts of Turkey). Their message, as they say in the video, is clear: police violence won’t be tolerated. The parks, after all, (should) belong to everyone.

I went down to the park a few times this weekend to witness what I can only describe as a feeling of true community spirit.

One of the smaller groups of the resistance, the Gezi-ci, have displayed photos showing pertinent scenes from the now four-week strong (and counting) protests.

For art lovers there is a spot of conceptual art with a piece featuring papier-mâché hands clawing to get inside a wire structure, as well as some graffiti (saying ‘Resist!’ in Turkish) which could be by the street art group No More Lies (the drawings certainly have the group's signature style).

During the evenings people bring food and drinks to hand out to everyone. There are jam sessions, children running around, people discussing philosophy and poetry.

And it’s nice to see that the situation hasn't dampened people’s sense of humour. The statues of prominent Turkish figures of the past at Abbasağa Park have been given a makeover – they too are wearing gas masks. Solidarity lives on!

On the Anatolian side, the Yoğurtçu Park in Kadıköy has been home to meetings and demonstrations since June 18. Each evening protesters gather, and some nights, from 9pm, a procession takes place from the park to the Kadıköy port. The Gallery Park Art just across the road has been open every night until midnight in solidarity, providing shelter for protesters who need it, as well as amenities such as the internet. Social media has, after all, been the medium of these protests, so if there is an urgent need to tweet, the Gallery is there to help. 

The darker side of the resistance's spread to other parks around the city became apparent on June 20 when a group of around 30 people physically attacked one of these forums at Yeniköy Park in Sarıyer. The above video, posted by Genç Haber the following day shows what happened – though perhaps not the whole story. The crowd was first warned by the village mayor Engin Cevahiroğlu, who supposedly lead the forum, to stop ‘banging on the pots and pans’, as reported by the Daily Hürriyet (and it is interesting that silent ways of protesting – such as waving hands in unision, as mentioned above – rather than clapping have now been spreading). Was it the noise that bothered the attackers or, as reported by this article on Human Rights Watch, was it because the attackers thought the forum participants were trying to prevent the construction of a new mosque in Yeniköy? 

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