'Standing Man' Silent Protest Sweeps Turkey

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Common Dreams

'Standing Man' Silent Protest Sweeps Turkey

Show of resistance defies government crackdown on uprisings

by
Sarah Lazare, staff writer

(Photo: Reuters/Erdem Gunduz stands in Taksim Square)

'Standing man' protests are going viral across Turkey in a silent show of resistance amidst violent government raids on the country's expanding uprisings.

It started with one man who stood silently in Turkey's embattled Taksim Square Monday, facing the Ataturk Cultural Center which is cloaked in Turkish flags and images of Kemal Ataturk.

Performance artist Erdem Gunduz stood with his hands in his pockets in the ground zero of clashes, defying government orders to clear the park of protesters, part of the violent crackdowns led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that have left four dead and over 7,500 injured.

When reporters asked him why he stood, Gunduz responded, "It's evident. The people are not being allowed into Taksim."

Soon Gunduz was joined by others who took up post around him.

The crowd swelled to hundreds as the hours passed, and the silent protesters slowly filled the square. After eight hours, over 300 stood motionless in the night darkness.

At two in the morning police broke up the show of resistance. Ten people who refused to budge from their silent memorial were hauled off to jail.

But the silent protests did not stop there.

The 'standing man' went viral.

News of the silent protest spread across the internet, with a deluge of photos and updates posted to Twitter hashtag #duranadam, which means 'standing man' in Turkish.

People stood silently in cities across the country Tuesday, including Taksim Square where the peaceful protesters had been forced out the day before.

A woman in Ankara stood Tuesday in the place where a protester had been killed by police, ABC reports.

Hundreds of photographs posted online showed similar vigils throughout Turkey. Hürriyet Daily News reports:

In the western province of İzmir, a group of around 100 people blocked the traffic at Gündoğan Square around 2:30 a.m. in the morning, shortly after a ‘standing woman’ started standing in the middle of Kızılay Square in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

A small group of people, including lawyers, also “stood” for more than one hour June 18 in the Istanbul courthouse in support of the “standing man.”

Another man joined the action in the Aegean province of Muğla with an umbrella to protect himself from the 37 degree of temperature.

One photo showed people standing still in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas, in front of the Madımak Hotel where 33 intellectuals and two hotel workers died when radical Islamists attacked the hotel on July 2, 1993.

Another photo showed three people standing in front of the offices of weekly Agos, where Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was shot and killed on Jan. 19, 2007.

The silent vigils give a rush of inspiration to the massive movements pushing the AKP government to crisis. The protests were sparked by a May 31 violent police eviction of protesters occupying Gezi Park in opposition to government plans to redevelop the green space, and have since broadened to include a sweeping indictment of a government that many charge is spiraling into authoritarian rule.

Five Turkish trade unions, representing 800,000 workers, kicked off a general strike Monday after revelations of police brutality.

Police violence against the protesters, at the orders of PM Erdogan, has garnered global criticism as demonstrators face a barrage of tear gas, pepper spray, and water cannon fire, as well as raids and mass arrests.

The original 'standing man' says the silent performance is a living monument to the repression the government has unleashed on the Turkish people. He declared to the Hürriyet Daily News:

The “Clearing out Taksim Square [to pedestrians] as if nothing happened, planting trees in Gezi Park... Pretending as if nothing happened [in Taksim] is in fact the biggest violence."

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