Well, it appears that the funeral of Berkin Elvan was just the start. Widespread anti-government protests swept Turkey yesterday and today, with two dead, several wounded, and many arrests. This comes before key local elections on March 30th that would lead Prime Minister Erdogan (so he promises) to step down if his party, AKP, loses.
After the death of a boy put into a coma during last year’s anti-government protests, most notably the occupation of Gezi Park in Istanbul, protestors returned as thousands gathered for his funeral.
While unlikely to spark a similar wave of anti-government protest- which last year spread to much of Turkey and posed an unusually strong challenge to the rule of Recep Erdogan- the funeral was a conduit for all the rage that propelled events which led to Berkin Elvan’s injury. The resentment has not been yet answered. The conflict is always right beneath the surface, ready to burst forth.
Erdem Gunduz engaged in a form of protest that emphasizes power not by motion, but by the lack of motion. For eight hours he stood silently in Taksim Square- which had been violently cleared out by riot police earlier. Passers-by went from indifferent, to annoyed, to amused, and finally began to emulate him. By the time police moved in at 2am, there were three hundred people standing still, looking at the Ataturk Cultural Center- where a large picture of the famous secular president is displayed.
He is now called “duran adam,” Turkish for “standing man.” Many followup actions throughout Turkey take his lead.