News Release

Turkish Prime Minister’s Miscalculation

The Guardian in “Erdoğan’s reaction to Turkey protests reveals ominous Putin parallels” reports that: “Turkish TV viewers witnessed this: a small group of four or five ‘demonstrators’ throwing molotov cocktails at police. At one point they advanced on police lines in a comic Roman-style phalanx while holding the flag of a fringe Marxist party. The ‘protesters’ were in fact middle-aged undercover police officers, staging a not very plausible ‘attack’ on their own for the benefit of the cameras.”

MATTHEW JOHNSON, mwjohnson19 at gmail.com
A graduate student in peace and conflict studies, Johnson recently returned to the U.S. from Turkey. He just wrote the piece “Violence Against Police Was Staged, Says Turkish Protesters” on his TheTurkishMarch blog. He is currently in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area and is in regular contact with activists in Turkey.

ASLI BALI, bali at law.ucla.edu
Bali is an assistant professor at the UCLA School of Law and returned last week from Turkey. She said today: “The grievances voiced by the protesters have a broad and deep reservoir of support among many who did not take to the streets but found ways to express their solidarity in their own neighborhoods and towns and through social media. As the protesters who remain in Gezi Park regroup and plan their next move, the Prime Minister has called for rallies of his own this weekend as a show of force. He may think that exacerbating the polarization in the country is a way to consolidate his own base of constituents and prevail over opposition groups. He is mistaken. What he fails to appreciate is that these protests are not about the traditional opposition he has faced in the past, whether in terms of the secular-Islamist divide or the ethnic cleavages that have long characterized Turkish politics. Rather, the protests represent two conflicting visions of democracy. The prime minister’s view of democracy does not afford any role to the public beyond the ballot box. By contrast, much of the Turkish public now demands a more participatory and pluralist understanding of democracy that gives the public a regular voice in government. Unless the government abandons its strategy of repression and engages meaningfully with these demands, the escalating polarization will undermine many of the earlier democratizing accomplishments of Erdogan’s decade in power.”