Turkey: Artists change the face of protests with ‘silent standing’

24 June 2013

In Istanbul, an artist started a ‘silent standing’ protest, which has spread quickly to other places around the world, and is getting international attention and support.

‘Standing Man’ has even surprised the Turkish police, reported in the newsletter Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin on 21 June 2013.

As police was not allowing people to enter Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul – the park where protesters organised a demonstration to protect the trees of the park and then, on 31 May, were removed with teargas bombs, water cannon and rubber bullets from police – the performance artist Erdem Gunduz reportedly “changed the face of the protests” on 17 June as he stood silently and motionless facing the Ataturk Cultural Center. Later in the night, more artist and activists joined him, standing silent and still.

The police eventually detained the ‘silent standing’ protesters. Two of them turned out to be lawyers and were quickly released. 14 people went to the police to give their testimonies. According to the Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin police has opened a legal case against the ‘silent standing’ protesters for allegedly “resisting against police without violence or moving.”

‘Standing Man’ protest in Cambodia
Initiated by IFEX’s Turkey representatives Şanar Yurdatapan and Erol Önderoğlu in Cambodia, members of the international freedom of expression organisation joined the ‘standing man’ protest to support the Gezi Park resistance and the protesters’ freedom of expression, and to condemn the police violence against the protestors.

Artists show support
The German born Turkish-descended filmmaker Fatih Akın were reported to have written a letter to the Turkish president Abdullah Gül asking him to stop the violence.
American singer Joan Baez has greeted the protestors of Taksim Gezi Park in Turkish and then sung John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ for them.
And the Turkish pianist Fazıl Say has written a letter to the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel about Turkey’s proposed EU membership.

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