Chess tournament in Taksim Square

6/14/2013 – For over two weeks now protests and strikes have been staged across Turkey, with people demanding freedom of assembly and expression, and adherence to Turkey's secularism. The protests were sparked by a brutal police eviction of a sit-in at Istanbul's Taksim Gezi Park where. despite government threats, a chess tournament staged in Taksim Square in solidarity with the protesters.

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Hours earlier he had issued a "final warning" to protesters to leave the park. The meeting has been described as a "last-ditch" attempt to defuse the situation. Speaking at a meeting of his ruling AK Party (AKP) in the capital, Ankara, earlier on Thursday, Mr Erdogan said: "Our patience is at an end. I am making my warning for the last time. I say to the mothers and fathers, please take your children in hand and bring them out," he added, going on to say that the park belonged not "to occupying forces but to the people." Full BBC report story by Quentin Sommerville here.

Protesters in Gezi Park [Photo Wikipedia]

Telegraph: Taksim Square protests: not a Turkish spring, but the new Young Turks
By now you will have seen pictures of police battles, burning tyres, riot shields and tear-gas – stricken protesters. These images have become so familiar to us over the past few years that we are almost immune to them. But what you can't get from the pictures is the extraordinary transformation that took place in Taksim Square – the centre of Istanbul – in the space of a mere 10 days. It became a living, breathing community of peace, love and hope. "Woodstock" people whispered as they strolled amongst the stalls of free food and books, and the forests of posters and red flags. Too beautiful too last. We all knew that. Full report here.


Chess tournament in Taksim Square

Here's a message we received from Anil Sengün of Bogaziçi University:

The protests in Turkey started after the government's plans to reconstruct the last green space in the Taksim Square, 'Gezi Park', possibly to be replaced with a shopping mall, became known. The protests started with a few hundred environmentalists staging a sit-in demonstration, followed by the gathering of tens of thousands of people to the square. People in Turkey, faced with police violence and disrespectful comments from their government, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, turned it into a country-wide movement to demand civil rights and liberties. Protests are still going on and Gezi Park has already become a symbol of democratic demands. People with different political ideologies, religious convictions, ethnicities, gender groups, sports fans, they are all singing songs, building libraries, sharing food and demanding their citizenship rights peacefully in Gezi Park.

On last Sunday, maybe the most crowded day of the protests in Taksim Square, we found our own way of supporting the cause. With members of the Bosphorus University Chess Club and our friends from other universities, we decided to organize a tournament in Gezi Park. This time moves were made for Gezi Park, moves were made against authoritarianism. We were not many there, but people sat with us, people played with us. There was no winner there, everyone received a "democratic master" norm.

Anil sent us the following pictures from this remarkable tournament in Taksim Square.

Addendum

Last night Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with leaders of the protest movement for the first time. This morning we receive the following message from Anil:

Even though we hoped things would change with these meetings, for now it looks like they are useless, since the PM apparently cannot accept that any decisions that he has taken could under any circumstances be undone.

Last night, the young protesters were joined by their mothers in Gezi Park to support them. The attitude of the media, too, is changing. They were so far not publishing the whole story, so that maybe more than half of the people in Turkey didn't know what is really going on here. But in the last three days I met lots of people who woted for AKP and still had come to Gezi Park to join the protest. The people in Taksim Square, maybe for the first time in our history, are significantly well-educated and know what they want. We are not there to fight with the police, we are not there hurt or damage anything. We only want democracy – which is quiet funny: asking for democracy in 21th century. Things are changing in Turkey. This is not like a revolution.

Last night there was a piano concert in the square. People are finding their own ways to protest. It looks like we will be organizing our second chess tournament this Sunday, and maybe the third one next week. Players will complete their 'Democratic Master' norms, and wait for governments approval.


Topics Turkey
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