The view from Taksim Square: why is Turkey now in turmoil?

Elif Shafak in The Guardian:

Protesters-in-Ankara-005“My dear Prime Minister, I was an apolitical man; then how come I took to the streets? Not for two trees. I rebelled after seeing how, early at dawn, you have attacked those youngsters who were silently protesting in their tents. I took to the streets because I do not wish my son to go through the same things and I would like him to live in a democratic country.”

This poignant letter, addressing Recep Tayyip Erdogan and written by one of the protesters in Istanbul's historic Taksim Square, was widely circulated on Turkey's social media. That the owner of these words, Cem Batu, is the creative director of an advertising agency, and he and his team of well-educated, modern, young Istanbulites have been subjected to tear gas and injured during the protests says a lot about the ordeal of these last days.

It all started as a peaceful sit-in to save one of the last remaining public parks in a city of almost 14 million people. The government has been adamant about razing the park to rebuild the old Ottoman military barracks that once stood there and to then turn it into a museum or a mall. It was a decision that was made too fast and without proper public and media debate. Many people, who would opt for a public garden over a shopping mall, felt their voices were not heard by the politicians. Of these, some have ended up occupying Gezi Park. At the same time, the hashtag #occupygezi was launched, calling out for support and solidarity. As Koray Çaliskan, a political scientist from the Bosphorus University, wrote in the daily Radikal newspaper, these early protesters came from diverse ideological backgrounds, and among them were even people who had voted in the past for the party in power, the Justice and Development party (AKP).

More here.