Gezi protests exposed AKP’s agenda

Social reactions to projects like the military barracks and shopping mall that the government attempted to build in Gezi Park have become known as the Gezi protests. In response to these reactions, then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the protests would not stop them from progressing with these projects and he expressed a determination to proceed. However, the Gezi protests were conclusive and the government was unable to carry out its projects. Despite Erdoganand’s insistence, resistance won in Gezi and Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost. This was the success of social opposition and protests. The government and its supporters, who tried to undermine Gezi by referring to the violence at some of the protests, still rely on the same policy. They not only demonize the Gezi protests but also exploit that process.
h2Gezi protests: secularists meet politicsh2 From my perspective, the secularists met politics in the Gezi protests and resistance. The siblings of people who have never been involved in politics other than to cast their votes became involved in politics through this process. They started to fight for their rights and freedoms. Of course, they were not alone in their fight. Some Islamists and Kurds who were not pleased with the policies and preferences of the AKP also joined them. However, despite the passing of two years, this politicization in Gezi did not turn into a political organization. And most importantly, none of the existing political parties or movements was able to properly read the message in this process. They failed to appreciate the Gezi spirit. For instance, the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) argued they would take lessons from the Gezi protests but didnand’t do anything. Likewise, the Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP), which submitted to Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah andOcalan, who interpreted the Gezi protests as an attempted coup against the government, is not able to argue that they represent the Gezi spirit.
h2Gezi was an objection, revolth2 Gezi was an objection, an uprising and a revolt. Gezi was the uprising and riot of the social outcasts including Alevis who were experiencing hardships in enjoying their rights and displaying their lifestyles in the public sphere. Gezi was an objection to the cutting of trees at the beginning. From there, it snowballed into a reaction to intervention by the AKP since 2011 in the sphere of rights and freedoms through its political preferences. Gezi was a reaction to the governmentand’s attempts to make society more conservative via preferences dictated on how to arrange and regulate individualsand’ personal lives. Gezi was a response to the restrictions imposed upon rights and freedoms. Gezi was a response to the impositions of the state on morality. In conclusion, Gezi was a reaction to the stateand’s attempts to redesign society through the values it upheld.
h2 What Gezi revealsh2 Gezi also revealed something else about the AKP that we did not know before. Gezi exposed the AKPand’s true vision of 2023. The AKP, which, instead of understanding the social opposition in Gezi, tried to explain what happened by arguing that the protestors wanted to stage a coup against the administration. Because of fears, they thought they would lose what they have. For this reason, they started to repeat the lies they did not believe in political rallies and on TV programs. As Muslims, they did not hesitate to tell lies on a daily basis. And they still keep telling those lies. This revealed the true content of the AKPand’s 2023 vision. It became evident that this vision had nothing to do with democracy, freedoms, constitutional citizenship, pluralism and other universal values. This was evidenced by their reaction to the Gezi protests. The AKPand’s 2023 vision refers to a Turkey where a superficial Islam is dominant in the public sphere — this is the new Turkey of Erdogan. The first thing the AKP included in its agenda after Gezi was to revive the plan to destroy religious communities. This process, which started with the abolishment of the private study houses, turned into the illegal dissolution of the institutions affiliated with the Hizmet movement, also known as the Gandulen movement. In doing all this, the AKP has one goal in mind: to destroy everyone and everything that doesnand’t support the party and marginalize the others. This policy was pursued because the 2023 vision seeks to create a Turkey where the AKP dominates the public sphere. From this perspective, the greatest achievement of Gezi is to expose the AKPand’s 2023 vision.
h2The justifications for Gezi remainh2 The justifications for the reaction staged in the Gezi protests remain valid despite the passing of two years. The AKP places greater pressure by its reliance on state apparatus upon the parts of society that donand’t support its agenda. It does not hesitate to declare those who are critical of its policies — including unions, papers, TV channels, reporters, columnists, writers and intellectuals — as traitors, parallels, enemies, etc. By relying on identity politics the AKP is using religious symbols, which normally unite the people and society, as a means of polarization. Many other things that will preserve the spirit of resistance and opposition in the Gezi process strong are also happening. The same demands and concerns remain valid through stronger justifications and political practices. The Gezi spirit is all over us, looking for a proper body for itself. As different social groups agree on common denominators of rights, freedoms and democracy, and generate a sphere for coexistence, that body will be created and unite with that spirit.
hr *Murat Aksoy is a writer based in Istanbul.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman