Students of the Middle Eastern Technical University (METU), Ankara, have taken matters into their own hands after government-sponsored construction workers deforested several trees in the university fields in the hope of building a new road.
METU students, known for their political activity, are adamantly resisting these plans until the very end. “One way or another, we will plant those trees there again”, reads a banner in one of the rallies the students have held. Police have responded to the protesters with what locals describe as “violent tactics” with the intention to “suppress any opposition”. A strong police presence, including heavy-handed use of tear gas and water cannons, has reportedly been employed against the student protests.
Due to media censorship in Turkey, those inside the country have to rely on social media to find out about events. Some of the most recent uploads online include a video from the protest. “This is the beginning, resistance will continue,” can be heard chanted, as can the sound of gunfire, thought to be rubber bullets being shot at protesters by police.
Protests in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Hatay, have significantly changed the political and economic climate. and with so many blaming the regime for the death of protesting youths over the summer, there seems to be no end in near sight.
At the front of this battle are the families of these youths who were killed, including Ethem Sarisülük, 27, Ahmet Atakan, 22, Ali Ismail Korkmaz, 19, and Abdullah Can Comert, 22. The Republican People’s Party, the major political opposition, have supported the families of the deceased and are campaigning fiercely for the local elections in 2014. Results from these election will forecast the results of presidential elections, to be held later next year.
The Turkish government has expressed strong support for the intervention in Syria, the Turkish people consider this to be a very bad foreign policy decision; triggering protests and general dissatisfaction particularly in southern border cities like Antakya.