A Turkish Experiment in Direct Democracy

Taksim Commune: Gezi Park and the Uprising in Turkey

Global Uprisings 2013

Film Review

This short documentary tells the story of the occupation of Gezi Park and Taksim Square between May and July 2013. The occupation began as a protest against replacement of a popular park with high rise buildings.

Prime Minister Erdogan responded to the peaceful protest with unrestrained violence and brutality. This, in turn, awakened a broad cross section of Turkey to their underlying anger with Erdogan’s authoritarian regime. Young Turks are especially unhappy with massive youth unemployment related to the 2008 downturn and subsequent austerity cuts.

The occupation would eventually draw in unions, sports stars and fans, Muslims, Christians, atheists, ethnic minorities (e.g. Kurds) and even gay activists.

Like many of the Occupy encampments, the Taksim Commune came to provide food, medical care, market stalls and books for people involved in the protests. The film emphasizes the peoples’ assemblies that ran the Taksim Commune via consensus decision making.

This political unrest quickly spread across Turkey. In the intervening year, the grassroots movement against Erdogan’s authoritarian rule has continued to grow and exert its influence over Turkish society.

4 thoughts on “A Turkish Experiment in Direct Democracy

    • Unfortunately most people only take to the streets to fight their own oppression. I’m afraid the economy has been a little too good in Australia for young Aussies to feel the pinch yet. At least this is the sense I get as an outsider. What do you think?

      I believe this will change rapidly as growth slows in China, which has massively cut the coal and other raw materials it imports from Australia.


  1. Thank you for sharing this with us Dr. Stuart Bramhall.

    After three years, when I turn back those days, my thoughts and my feelings are very complicated. There were the people who seemed like the warrior poets at Turkey, and they fought for gaining back own birth rights. Today still Tayyip Erdogan and his followers are using the words of “terrorist and pro-coup” for the Occupy-Gezi protestors. I guess, it seems that one and only thing which he could not overcome on his life was the Occupy-Gezi. There is still a case continuing about Gezi Park. Recently, two weeks ago, the court decision which finds reconstruction of Military Barracks Ottoman Era appropriate, was upheld Council of State. So, the events had begun for this, because the trees at park would not be cut for building any barracks. Three years later, they still insist for this. And I don’t know what will happen next.


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