Monday, July 8, 2013

Public Forums in Turkey

While the Erdoğan regime has largely shut down the protests that rocked Turkey last month, Sebnem Arsu describes a promising turn for those who continue to hope for a deepening of democratic processes in that country. Activists are now meeting in public places, sometimes by the hundreds, to discuss and debate strategies to challenge the current government without meeting authoritarianism with violence:
"The forums, an unprecedented exercise in grass-roots democracy in a country with no tradition of public assembly, are not affiliated with any political party. Organically evolving, and with no leadership, they aim not to form a new political party but to structure a new political system. At the very least, participants say, they are a way to keep up the pressure on Mr. Erdogan’s administration."
To clamp down on the noise that would might attract heavy-handed response, participants are using nonverbal communication convey their reactions to speakers. They wave their hands to demonstrate affirmation, cross their arms to show disagreement, and rotate their arms to speed up speakers who take too long.

Young folks and the elderly, radicals and people who have never attended a protest before: these folks don't agree on everything. But they demonstrate the power to disagree without being disagreeable. Jenny and I were there for the tear gas. I wish we could be there for this more hopeful next step.

Read the article: After Protests, Forums Sprout in Turkey’s Parks

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