Protests in Turkey are ‘tremendous democratic advance’

Ziya Meral writes: Often, it is fair to say that most of what we read on Turkey in the international media tells us more about those who write it than guide us towards a healthy analysis of developments in the country. The same goes for vast majority of the commentary on the protests we saw in Istanbul and across the country over the last week.

While protests in each of the cities have a different context and local factors, without a doubt initial protests on and around Gezi Park have triggered a larger social eruption. Therefore, understanding the Gezi Park protests would be important as a reflection on trends that unite these protests.

So far, the most credible data that emerged on protestors in Istanbul’s Taksim Square has been a poll among 3,000 protestors in the Taksim area by Bilgi University. The findings signal important insights.

Bilgi’s survey has found that 39 per cent of protestors are 19 to 25 years old and 24 per cent are 26 to 30 years old. Some 53 per cent have never joined a protest before, while 70 per cent do not feel close to any opposition party. Only 7 per cent say they joined the protests due to mobilisation by a political group. As to the reasons for the protest – some 92 per cent blame the prime minister’s attitude, 91 per cent say police brutality, 84 per cent the media’s silence on the events, and 56 per cent say the cutting of the trees. [Continue reading…]

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