Stnading Man at Gezi Park

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Jun 17 2013

Location: 

Istanbul Turkey

The 2013 protests in Turkey started on 28 May 2013, initially to contest the urban development plan for Istanbul's Taksim Gezi Park. The protests were sparked by outrage at the violent eviction of a sit-in at the park protesting the plan. Subsequently, supporting protests and strikes took place across Turkey protesting a wide range of concerns, at the core of which were issues of freedom of the press, of expression, assembly, and the government's encroachment on Turkey's secularism.

The Turkish government's reaction to the protests at Gezi Park was swift and violent, as police forces cracked down on protesters and evicted them from the park. Facing police brutality and demonized by certain media channels that presented them as an unruly violent mass, members of the protest movement came to realize that new ways of getting their message across were needed.

The new symbolic and non-violent form of protest that quickly appeared was dubbed the "Standing Man" or "Standing Woman". A lone protester, Erdem Gündüz, initiated it on 17 June 2013 by standing in Taksim Square for hours, staring at the Turkish flags on the Ataturk Cultural Center. The powerful images of Erdem and the protesters who emulated him by standing in silent resolve for hours on end, managed simultaneously to express the nonviolent nature of the protest and to expose the oppressive nature of the government, which proceeded to arrest people whose only crime was standing upright and staring at the national flag.

Posted by Yoav Halperin on