As part of our trip to Turkey, we visited the the Taksim Gezi Park. This park has been the site of various protests in recent years. Muge Yorganci, a graduate student who is studying urban planning, gave us a tour of Taksim Square and took us to the site where some of the protests happened. She told us that she had participated in some of the protests herself.
In 2013, the government had plans for a military barracks to take the place of the park, and many people were disconcerted with this arrangement. This led to the well-known 2013 Gezi Park protests.The protests started as a peaceful sit-in protest. However, the protestors were brutally removed by the police force and this led to more widespread protests in the park. These protests ended up being the largest in recent Turkish history.
There has been much tension in the relationship between the police and the citizens of Turkey. The police have been known to use tear gas, pepper spray, and even torture against the citizens of Turkey. When people were camped outside Gezi Park to prevent the demolition of the park, the police employed the use of tear gas and even lit fire to the tents that the people were inhabiting. This kind of violence has led to significant mistrust between the police force and civilian population of Turkey.
These observations relate directly to my project, which focuses on the police force and the factors that lead to crime in Istanbul. I enjoyed this tour and especially enjoyed going to such a historic site in Istanbul where so many events had taken place. The knowledge that I gained from this tour will be invaluable for me as I continue research for my project.