my little photoblog of Istanbul’s #OccupyGezi in Taksim Square

I’m living just down the street from the place-where-it-all-began here in Turkey. If you haven’t seen the news, amazing things are happening in Turkey these days! Last weekend, environmental protests were violently rebuffed by the police and large-scale rioting broke out. I was in Jordan last weekend, so I missed all the fun — that is, the torture by teargas which no doubt seeped through the entire neighbourhood. But at some time in between Saturday night and Sunday morning, the police stepped down and let the protestors have the square. By this point, the protestors numbered in the hundreds of thousands and had destroyed fences and cars in the square to create barricades to keep the police out of the square. With the immediate threat of police attack over, the protestors moved in. By the time I arrived back in town on Friday night, the square had transformed into a tent city cum street party which felt suspiciously like what Woodstock must have felt like.

This is a huge deal. If you have not been paying attention, I strongly recommend you pay attention. It is no small thing when police withdraw, admitting [temporary] defeat to protestors who take over the heart of the city. The Square and the Park are incredibly well-run, protests are still ongoing, political groups are hyper-active… but there is no single leadership. A more ‘popular’ movement you have not seen, at least not that I know of. I suspect one of two things will happen: either this will change things in Turkey, and possibly many other countries, forever; or the protestors will lose their furor and the police will catch them off guard one of these days. Many of us are hoping for the first, simply because their enthusiasm and HOPE is so contagious.

Enough postulating on my part. The point of this blog is to share with you some of the photos I’ve taken as I’ve walked through the square. Photos are totally OK, there’s no police regulation at all. But when I tried to take a shot of the health clinic that was set up they flashed light in my eyes so my camera wouldn’t work and asked me to stop. Otherwise, all was fair game…

    Boys waving flags on an overturned car at midnight. There was much about the Square that reminded me of a scene from Les Mis...

Boys waving flags on an overturned car at midnight. There was much about the Square that reminded me of a scene from Les Mis…

A barricade blocking access to the square from the Northern End. I live at the Southern End, down a pedestrian-only street, which is currently entirely occupied by protestors - it's weird how all the police have disappeared.

A barricade blocking access to the square from the Northern End. I live at the Southern End, down a pedestrian-only street, which is currently entirely occupied by protestors – it’s weird how all the police and cars have disappeared.

There is LOADS of patriotic bling for sale. In fact, not just bling... there is loads of all kinds of stuff for sale!

There is LOADS of patriotic bling for sale. In fact, not just bling… there is loads of all kinds of stuff for sale!

As I approached the Square yesterday afternoon, a huge cloud of smoke covered the entire area. Last weekend the police used a horrific amount of tear gas, so I had a brief moment of panic that the fighting had resumed. But as I approached, the lovely smell of barbecuing meat wafted over me. Carts like this are dotted all throughout the Square.

As I approached the Square yesterday afternoon, a huge cloud of smoke covered the entire area. Last weekend the police used a horrific amount of tear gas, so I had a brief moment of panic that the fighting had resumed. But as I approached, the lovely smell of barbecuing meat wafted over me. Carts like this are dotted all throughout the Square.

One of the first things that impressed me as I wandered around the Square (especially inside the park, where all the tents are set up - which I did not take a picture of, sorry) was how CLEAN it is. I asked and was told that it's the protestors themselves who have set up a trash pick-up rota and, sure enough, I saw a young well-dressed girl with a designer purse throw a bag on this pile at the edge of the Square.

One of the first things that impressed me as I wandered around the Square (especially inside the park, where all the tents are set up – which I did not take a picture of, sorry) was how CLEAN it is. I asked and was told that it’s the protestors themselves who have set up a trash pick-up rota and, sure enough, I saw a young well-dressed girl with a designer purse throw a bag on this pile at the edge of the Square.

A few things to note here: 1- The huge protests broke out because of construction being done in the Square which would entail destroying the park (which extends behind the bulldozers for several acres) so please note that the bulldozers have been DE-activated. 2- Graffitti, Graffitti everywhere! And not just in the park where the protests happened - this volume of graffitti has filled the entire neighbourhood. 3- There's a kid playing in the bulldozer. This is ALL fun now...

A few things to note here: 1- The huge protests broke out because of construction being done in the Square which would entail destroying the park (which extends behind the bulldozers for several acres) so please note that the bulldozers have been DE-activated. 2- Graffiti, Graffiti everywhere! And not just in the park where the protests happened – this volume of graffiti has filled the entire neighbourhood. 3- There’s a kid playing in the bulldozer (oh, oops, I didn’t upload the picture with the kid playing… well, believe me he was, and not just one kid either). This is ALL fun now…

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