"This is not about a park. It's about not being heard; it's about the abuse of state power; it's about media being censored; it's about minorities not being protected; it's about oppressing freedom of speech and certain lifestyles. This is about democracy.
Turkey is going through a difficult time right now. Whilst there is terrifying police violence, which is devastating to see, there is also an amazing support and solidarity among people from different backgrounds, opinions, ideologies, that gives us a great hope for the future of democracy in Turkey. This is totally a civil movement. It's extremely sad to hear the Prime Minister Erdogan still threatening his own citizens with humiliating words. It started with people who wanted to protect their park against a shopping mall construction through peaceful protest. The resultant excessive force used by the police – including gas bombs, water canons and plastic bullets – has caused severe injuries and an unknown number of deaths.
"Turkey is not a monarchy, it is a democratic republic and the government lost all the legitimacy by attacking its own people with chemicals"
Turkey is not a monarchy, it is a democratic republic and the government lost all the legitimacy by attacking its own people with chemicals. In any other democratic country, the Prime Minister would be forced to resign and be tried for abuse of political power and many other crimes. People of all ages want to be able to save their local parks and cultural buildings and be able to have the freedom to share their opinions. Because of the unbelievable and shameful media censor our only source of information and medium to share our voice is social media. What has happened over the past three nights is insane and inhuman."
Turkish-born fashion designer Umit Benan is just one of many spreading the news about the current situation in Turkey, which has escalated over the past couple of days. Unbelievably, the Turkish TV media has chosen to fill its airtime with nature documentaries rather than showing the devastating state of chaos happening on the streets. In order to get their story out into the world, Turkish residents have chosen to document their experiences of peaceful protests, police violence and clashes via social networks and on websites such as the #occupygezi tumblr.
"We are not revolting against the system, we believe in democracy, and demand less of an authoritarian stand and more dialogue from the Prime Minister. We want a leader who is representative of the people," explains Turkish-born AnOther contributor and photographer Can Evgin. "It is very important to note that this is not a case of the the modern fighting the conservative, nor the Sunni fighting the Shia, nor the Turks fighting the Kurds. This is a united fight bringing together people from all layers of Turkish society, for the right to co-exist with equal respect to each other, and for a government that embraces and cherishes the differences between its citizens. An amazing example to the unity of the people is that mosques, those beautiful sacred places which have unfortunately become a symbol for the conservative values of the current government, are being turned into impromptu clinics by medical students to treat the wounded."
Text by Laura Bradley