The tree that hid the forest: who would have thought, at the end of May, that twenty or so environmental protesters, united against the Gezi Park development project in central Istanbul, would turn into a protest movement against the government in power.
Quickly repressed in the early days, the excessive use of force by the police only strengthened the movement, and several of Turkey's major cities followed suit. In Istanbul, the starting point of the riots, Taksim Square and the surrounding area were transformed into a veritable siege. Barricades were erected on all the roads leading up to the square, and teams were set up to warn of a police offensive. A veritable game of cat and mouse ensued, with the police gaining ground for a few hours and the demonstrators reinforcing the barricades as events unfolded. But it was the popular fervor that was most impressive. People of all kinds are coming together and uniting. It was no longer a question of saving a few trees, but of opposing the government and the rise of a repressive state.
The latest laws on alcohol, gender inequality and the intrusion of religion into politics are all reasons for Turks to take to the streets. After several weeks of struggle, Gezi Park will finally be emptied on June 15, 2013.