Last weekend, Istanbul went a bit crazy. Tear gas, vandalism, and clashes with the police occurred for several days. The Prime Minister disappeared from the country, but now he’s back again.
As he came back, I thought this would be the signal for more craziness, so excited to see what was going, I rushed back to Taksim, the centre of Istanbul. What I found, surprised me.
Istanbul is currently in a calm period. I cannot yet figure out if this is the eye of the storm, or the calm that follows the storm. Neither side has got what they want, and although the protestors won the initial battle, the war is far from over. In the centre of town, around Taksim Square and Gezi Park (which sparked the protests), thousands of people were gathered to sing, dance, and support the protests. In the park, I found many tents (people now live in the park), free food and drink for protestors, and even a library. The atmosphere is celebratory, as if the have got what they wanted.
On the streets, people still chant while young men sell masks and spray paint. For three lira, you can buy a can of spray paint and write whatever obscenities you wish, on any available surface. The surfaces are fast running out as there are no police to regulate things. In defiance of stricter alcohol regulations, people now sell and drink alcohol openly on the streets. If you’ve ever read Lord of the Flies, well, this springs to mind.
With the Prime Minister still very popular, I feel this is not yet the case. There are no police near the centre of the city and barricades stop them from entering. The people run the city centre for now. But for how long?
I am interested to see where this goes. Right now, there seems to be a stalemate. The police have withdrawn but the PM will not meet the protestors demands.
Here are some photos from this weekend.