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.