Saturday, June 1, 2013

San Francisco Taksim Gezi Park Protests Solidarity Rally

The Turkish flag flying
Supporters of the ongoing protests regarding the planned destruction of Taksim Gezi Park in Turkey staged a rally in San Francisco today.  The event in front of City Hall was well attended (several hundred people), well organized and the attendees displayed great enthusiasm for their cause.  This protest had perhaps the greatest sign density of any protest I’ve ever seen.

Protesters posing with signs for photographers
Signs varied greatly in content from “Enough with Erdogan’s Advanced Fascism” to Turkish flags and pictures of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (Turkey’s first president and a symbol of secular, modern Turkey).
A couple with a picture of Ataturk
The rally, in both signs and speeches, was conducted mostly in Turkish.  There were some English signs and speeches.  The speakers denounced the brutality of the police and praised the Turks defending the park.  One fiery speaker insisted that Turkey never had a democracy, since Turkey has always been under the thumb of America and NATO. Another speaker encouraged attendees to educate the crowd's non-Turkish friends about the issues at hand.
A moment of silence, as the speaker holds up a peace sign
Attendees were mostly Turkish, unsurprisingly. All ages were present, from the elderly to moms with baby strollers.

The call for the rally follows:

"To All Democracy and Free Speech Supporters in the World,

There is an ongoing public uprising in Turkey which one might call as the Turkish Spring against the anti-democratic regulations of the current government. The uprising was sparked by a police attack against peaceful protestors in Taksim, Istanbul who were gathered in a public park (Gezi Park) to protest the planned shopping mall construction by removal of the park, one of the few remaining green areas in downtown Istanbul. The peaceful sit-in protestors who were in the area since beginning of the week were attacked by the police forces on Friday May 31, 2013 around 5 am by tear gas and water cannons without any warning. These protestors were just ordinary people who were there to save trees from being toppled down by bulldozers, to voice their opinions about the fate of their city by exercising their constitutional right to a peaceful demonstration. The unnecessary and excessive use of police force against demonstrators and non-demonstrators alike in the area have caused an outrage among the public drawing more crowds to Taksim area.

Ongoing police brutality and reports of injuries sparked even more protests all over Istanbul and spread to other cities turning into country wide demonstrations against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his "increasingly authoritarian and uncompromising tendencies" as Associated Press has called it. In many cities, people from all parts of the society, believers, non-believers, different ethnic backgrounds, different party voters have gathered on the streets demanding the police violence against public to come to an end and chanting for Mr. Erdogan's resignation.

The major media either supporter of the government or oppressed by the government is turning a blind eye on the developments. The main source of communication is basically the social media such as facebook, twitter and civil people broadcasting from the streets to various sites using their cell phones. People of Turkey is reading reports or watching videos about what is going on in their country from international press coverage due to lack of local media reports. There is also growing concern among the public that internet access will be banned by the government.

Please us help to spread the outcry of public in Turkey to stop the police violence against public and anti-democratic regulations.

So far, 51 people are arrested, there are many injured protesters in hospital, one being in a coma.

We, the Turkish Americans living in the Bay Area, are gathered to show our support to the protesters in Istanbul, and let them know that they are not alone. Their efforts are noble and even though we can't physically be there, our hearts and minds are with them.

We hope that those in power would yield to public demand and would leave the trees of Gezi Parki alone, so the city residents can continue to enjoy the park.

SF Bay Area Turkish Americans"

Hashtag for the event: 


  1. If I had known, I would have been there. When is the next one?

    1. Tomorrow, June 8 at 2:30pm in Union Square