Entry Title: "Occupy Gezi Park"
Name: İLKER GÖKŞEN , Turkey
Category and Expertise: Photo Essay and Feature Story|General News|Political|Deeper Perspective, Non-Professional


Entry Description: Turkey is witnessing the biggest anti-government protests in years. What started as a small sit-in to protect some trees in the last green space, known as Gezi Park, in central İstanbul from being bulldozed to make way for a shopping mall and Ottoman style military barracks has turned into a movement where tens of thousands of people are protesting Turkey’s authoritarian government and its imposition of conservative Islamic values on an officially secular country. People believe that these values and laws are intended to infringe on their civil liberties and personal freedoms and to suppress their freedom of speech. Therefore, thousands of people have been protesting in the streets to make their voices heard.

Story: Turkey is witnessing the biggest anti-government protests in years. What started as a small sit-in to protect some trees in the last green space, known as Gezi Park, in central İstanbul from being bulldozed to make way for a shopping mall and Ottoman style military barracks has turned into a movement where tens of thousands of people are protesting Turkey’s authoritarian government and its imposition of conservative Islamic values on an officially secular country. People believe that these values and laws are intended to infringe on their civil liberties and personal freedoms and to suppress their freedom of speech. Therefore, thousands of people have been protesting in the streets to make their voices heard. Image 1: The photograph was taken in Gündoğdu Square in Alsancak District in Izmir. Gündoğdu Square is a central location and a large open area with lots of green space and pedestrian roads and it usually becomes the center of protests and riots in İzmir. In the photograph, the protesters are singing and chanting for the resignation of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who they believe has almost turned into a dictator. The Republic Tree Statue, which symbolizes Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and his cavalry is also seen in the photograph. Image 2: The photograph was taken after the riot police started attacking the protesters with teargas, water cannons and batons. After the initial aggression, they backed off and went away for a while, only to come back in a few hours. In the meantime, the crowd that got angry because of the police violence started setting things on fire as a response, and then they extinguished it by themselves. Image 3: A protester tries to direct the people towards another area. Image 4: After the riot police fired teargas bombs into the crowd, many people were affected by the gas and some of them were hit by the bomb canisters. A protester is about to lose his consciousness as he is being taken into the ambulance that arrived to the scene. He was immediately rushed to the hospital. Image 5: Anti-government protests in Turkey have attracted people from all walks of life and it became a movement in a very short time. People usually start meeting around 6pm at different locations and then march towards Gündoğdu Square where all groups meet. In the photograph, a crowded group of protesters are chanting slogans against the government as they march through the streets of Alsancak.

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