June 4, 2013
What’s causing the widespread rioting and violence in Turkey … with army tanks running over and killingprotesters, protesters losing eyes or otherwise being blinded, the widespread use of tear gas (and perhaps chemical weapons), and scores seriously injured?
The original small, peaceful protest – brutally cracked down on by the government – was simply against the destruction of one of the few remaining public spaces in Istanbul … for the development of a shopping mall by the prime minister’s son-in-law.
As Pepe Escobar writes at Asia Times:
The recent spark in Istanbul was provided by a small group of very young environmentalists organizing a peaceful sit-in, Occupy-style, in Taksim Square to protest the planned destruction of one of the city center’s few remaining public green spaces, Gezi park.
Gezi park’s destruction follows a globally tested neoliberalism racket; it will be replaced by a simulacrum – in this case a replica of the Ottoman Artillery Barracks – housing, what else, yet another shopping mall. It’s crucial to note that the mayor of Istanbul, also from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), owns a retail chain that will make a killing out of the mall. And the man holding the contract for this “redevelopment” is no less than [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's] son-in-law.But the tinder lit quickly because Turks are sick of Erdogan’s nose-in-business government, which is attempting to ban alcohol, rail against tobacco and otherwise trash liberties in what has long been a very cosmopolitan, largely secular society.