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Turkey’s New Mass Protest: #DirenAmasya

Turkey’s New Mass Protest: #DirenAmasya

The beautiful Turkish city of Amasya sits on the banks of the Yesilirmak River, and boasts thousands of years of history. This month, the city is making history yet again, as its residents become involved in a protest that appears to be quickly spreading beyond Amasya’s borders.

It might be the new Gezi Park, and it’s further evidence of social and political unrest in the already troubled nation of Turkey. While the protests are still in their nascent stage, many Turkish people are following the situation closely.

Amasya’s situation started with a proposal to develop a park located in the middle of the city. The park is filled with trees and plants, and it’s a popular place for residents to visit. If the story sounds familiar, it should, because this is effectively what happened in Gezi Park as well, where the interests of developers were put over those of residents. As in Gezi, people are fighting back. They’re occupying the park and its trees to protest the development, arguing that surely, there must be a better place to put a gas station.

#DirenAmasya (“diren” means “resist”) is already trending in Turkey, and it’s starting to attract global attention as well. While the physical protests have remained local, the discussion has gone national, highlighting growing concerns among Turkish residents about the construction boom in the country. While the government argues that development and construction are signs of a robust economy and are ultimately good for the nation, some residents feel otherwise, arguing that destructive construction and the removal of treasured public resources like parks is troubling.

Even on social media, Turks appear split between favoring development and chances to build, and protecting the country’s valued green space. Turkey, like many nations experiencing rapid jumps in growth, is facing conflicts between the desire to develop and the need to do so in a balanced way. In ancient cities like Amasya where layers and layers of architecture going back centuries jostle for room with parks and the needs of the public, development can be especially fraught — where, when, and how can you build to accommodate the needs of a growing population and an economy that’s experiencing growth as well?

While #DirenAmasya may not reach the scale of the Gezi Park protests, it’s an important social phenomenon, and it’s worthy of attention. Turkey is experiencing a period of very turbulent politics, and situations like this one illustrate the stark disconnect between the government and its citizens. As residents of Amasya fight to protect the park they love from development, the government charges on with similar projects in other locales, often over the voices of residents and the larger community.

Is Turkey close to another breaking point that might erupt in explosive nationwide protests, and is the government prepared to deal with such an event and its fallout?

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Photo credit: Turc Olive.

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40 comments

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4:10PM PDT on Jun 18, 2014

Protect the parks.
I am done with business wanting everything all the time. They are trying to frack, build and destroy most every place left, to get the last of 'it' all.
If something isn't being charged for having using it...a business will try to own it. I am so done with business that does not have ethics.

9:46AM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

9:20AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

Thank you.

1:51AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

thank you for sharing

1:27AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

Thank you for the article

12:24AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

Turkey is vast and has an interesting history and architecture that needs to be protected.
Best to hang on to the open spaces in the large cities and develop with environmental aspects taken into account. The Turks know what they value and governments should not ride roughshod over their views .
It is a human right to express one's opinion otherwise protests grow larger and larger...

6:09PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

Protect the park.

3:28PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

Interesting, thanks for sharing.

3:17PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

I'm glad they're fighting back, but so long as the power of eminent domain, or anything roughly equivalent to it legally, exists, developers will always have more money to grease the palms of politicians than the common people.

1:10PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

What happens is that "development" offers the powers that be the means to enrich themselves; those who protest face more than just harassment in places like Turkey.

I would hope that the people of Turkey would protect their resources and their ancient sites, but that cannot be guaranteed because too much money is to be made ....

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