A small environmentalist protest that began last week against the demolition of Gezi Park in Taksim and the cutting down of trees there has nearly turned into nationwide protests due to the government’s determination to press ahead with its plans and the use of force by the police against the demonstrators.
The government plans to build a military barracks in the area, which will include a shopping mall. There is agreement that the government has failed to manage the process well, resulting in the protests growing larger and becoming hijacked by marginal groups.
The Star’s Fehmi Koru, who criticizes the police’s harsh response to the protestors in Taksim, says he does not understand why Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an still does not backpedal from his plans about Gezi Park when there is so much public opposition.
He thinks Erdo?an’s failure to make a statement about halting the plan increases the level of sympathy for the protestors among the public with every passing minute. “It is just crazy to think that such a government, which has so much love for ?stanbul, will go ahead with the plans for Gezi Park, and this government is not one that will take that step despite public resistance,” says Koru.
According to Sabah’s Mahmut Övür, the government has failed to manage the controversy about Taksim Gezi Park from the very beginning. At the very start of the project, he said many people said this project should be turned into one that the public can contribute to, but this has not been possible.
Yet, Övür thinks some circles are exerting dangerous efforts to make a civil war out of the Taksim protests. “Both the government and the opposition parties should act with common sense, and the public should not be made to pay the price of this showdown. I believe that Turkey, which has gotten rid of coups, unsolved murders, assassinations and gangs, can easily overcome this,” says Övür.
Zaman’s Mustafa Ünal is also among those who think that the government’s management of the crisis was poor and that if it had taken the right stance in the beginning, protests would not have grown this much. “As a result, the government managed to unite public opposition against it from the right and left wings as there were both right-wingers and left-wingers in the streets. It is not yet clear when the incidents will stop. Even the three-day-long incidents are filled with lessons that everyone should take,” he says. F Disli Zibak