By Ayça Alemdaroglu
Jadaliyya - July 18, 2013
The recent uprisings
in Turkey indicated a transformation of youth cynicism into a
widespread protest against the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP)
government’s conservative and autocratic policies. This transformation
demands a new way of thinking about youth and politics in the
country. If nothing else, young people can no longer be easily
characterized as politically apathetic.
In June 2013, Turkey witnessed young people going out onto the
streets to defend trees, solidarity, and freedom against the AKP's
profit-driven, socially conservative, autocratic rule. The number of
protestors (whose average age is twenty-eight, according to a Konda
poll) grew exponentially as they were met with police brutality and the
government's marginalizing, polarizing, and terrorizing discourse.
It all began as a peaceful sit-in against the government plan to
build a shopping mall in Gezi Park in Istanbul's central Taksim Square.
The police attack on protestors turned a small-scale local protest into a
city- and country-wide uprising. Plenty of analysis has appeared in domestic and foreign media
about the causes, methods, and effects of the events. While government
supporters insist on portraying protests as a product of a foreign and
domestic conspiracy to weaken Turkey’s successful economy and its
increasing role in world politics, many analysts have emphasized the
democratic nature of protests. Some have analyzed the role of the
autocratic policies of the ruling AKP in pressuring the society to
rebel; others examined the novelty, diversity, and humor that protestors
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