Taksim Gezi Park Protest in Turkey Not Just About Trees; Protests Spread Despite Temporary Victory
Judge reportedly ordered temporary halt to construction
Protests over the demolition of a park in the center of downtown Istanbul in favor of a shopping mall entered a fourth day, with police using tear gas, water cannons and pepper spray to try to disperse the occupiers. Turkish police have reportedly arrested dozens of people, while a court has ordered a temporary suspension of construction at Taksim Gezi Park, where on Monday demolition work had begun. The temporary order may be too little too late; protests are reported to have spread across Istanbul as well as Ankara.
In his third term as prime minister in Turkey, Recep Erdogan has exhibited increasingly authoritarian tendencies. There are more journalists in jail in Turkey today than in any other country, just one front of Erdogan's assault on free speech. His Islamist party has been accused of extending their power over the government at the expense of constitutional checks and balances, replacing democracy with authoritarian leadership. Police violence began to soar in 2008, and last year a human rights group in Turkey accused the government of using police to target peaceful protests, as exhibited at Taksim Gezi Park, where a peaceful protest was met with police force even as a judge ordered a temporary suspension of what the protesters were there to stop.
Erdogan denied earlier this week he was a king, responding to protesters.