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Being brave at Taksim Square

by on June 29, 2013

From David:

Along with all the old churches, I thought an interesting sight to see would be Taksim Square, the site of the recent mass protests against the Turkish Prime Minister’s policies. I figured as we got closer we would know whether it was going to be a dumb thing to do and could turn around.

It turned out to have been quite a non-event… the protests have completely died down and if you didn’t know about it you probably wouldn’t have known you were anywhere interesting.  The only people sleeping in the square were homeless.  The taxis and pedestrians and traffic were just as busy as anywhere else in the city.  The “square” is actually pretty ugly… just a concrete area in the middle of a huge traffic circle. The shops on the surrounding streets were all just doing business as usual.

But I have to admit, I felt really uncomfortable being there. There was a very obvious police presence…. off on the side and just lounging around, but still very much there. And some very burly men in plain clothes standing around in the square were surely not just hanging out. Somehow being obvious American tourists taking pictures didn’t feel like the right thing to be doing. So we took a few and then got out of there.

But to prove that we were brave enough to do it, here are the pictures:

Here is the traffic circle, with “Gezi Park”, one of the last remaining bits of greenery in this whole city.  The government wants to rip out the park and replace it with shops and a museum, and that is what began the protests.  The government sent in these bulldozers to start ripping things apart as soon as they cleared the protestors.

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Here we are in front of the big picture of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.  Many protestors had taken to standing silently looking at the banner as their non-violent protest.

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(PS: I tried for a few days to dress a little less obviously-American but I realized that nothing I did would hide the fact, so I might as well embrace it. So shorts, a backpack and a Tilly Hat it is!)

Another view of Gezi Park

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Past the pedestrians here you can pick out a large group of police in dark uniforms, standing around their water-cannon trucks and the buses that brought them in. But the people mostly seemed to be disregarding them.

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4 Comments
  1. Aunt Donna permalink

    Just updated the family in alabama about your trip to date, leaving out the part about you guys going to the epicenter of the protests – they are all a bit nervous for you. Sorry to hear about the need for crutches – hope it’s better soon. No purchases at the market???? Perhaps you should just pick up a cat or two….
    Donna

  2. Oma really enjoys A and A’s intelligent insights in a foreign country. Happy u didn’t get Bosporus sick. Please bring us a cat,

  3. Uncle Phil permalink

    Minor typo in the post, Bro. You spelled “Silly” hat with a “T.”

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