Since the protests regarding the corruption and anti-corruption scandals that encompassed both the dismissal of key alliance figures of the AKP as well as suspicious transactions between P.M. Erdoğan and his son, Turkey has remained rather dormant with occasional murmurs occurring around the Berkin Elvin tragedy, the local elections, and May Day. Recent events have produced another set of hiccups in a quietly tense yet seemingly unactive context that emit glimpses into the true political dissatisfaction of many Turkish citizens as the one year anniversary of the Gezi Park movement approaches.
On 13 May, another tragedy occurred at the mines of Soma- a town 230 south west of İstanbul. As of current, the casualty toll is expected to pass 300 with 18 people still missing which has turned this accident into the worst mining tragedy in the history of Turkey. The reaction of the nation has shown the citizens to respond with profound sadness as they have gathered with candle light vigils as well as a nation-wide mourning period where bars, clubs,and restaurants have closed early which has transformed the chaotic, loud night life of İstanbul into an empty, eerie streets resembling an abandoned ghost town.
Coexisting with this time of mourning has been a critical, disapproval with the reaction of the prime minister to the situation. His initial statement regarding the disaster was that “these things are common“ which sparked outrage among citizens as the death toll continues to rise, These emotions add more flame to a deeper hostility towards the fire of the overall dissatisfaction with the extremely powerful political party and has triggered about round of protests- the biggest ones being in the capital, Ankara, and in the various districts of İstanbul.
As both the one year anniversary of Gezi Park approaches and the presidential elections draw near, it will be interesting to see what will become of the intensifying dissatisfaction of the people of Turkey with their government.
Enthusiastic Protest with Fireworks in Kadıköy
Today, the murder trial of Mehmet Ayvalıtaş provoked thousands of people to gather outside the courthouse this afternoon. The police attacked the protestors at the courthouse and they eventually relocated the demonstration to the center of Kadıköy (Boğa Heykeli). The community of protestors decided to walk to the AKP’s regional builiding in the district of Kadıköy where the police predicably reacted with the TOMA water cannons as well s tear gas. The third demonstration in Kadıköy was conducted this evening as a heightened, enthusiastic response by the protestors with the usage of fireworks. Kadıköy has not been the centre of a protest of great size since October (with the exception of the “corruption” riots of December). This is significant for protestors to face the coldness of Turkish winter to get their message across.