RIGHTS > ‘Standing man’ inspires a new type of civil disobedience in Turkey


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This DHA photo shows 'standing man' as he started the silent act of resistance, before he was joined by a large group.

This DHA photo shows 'standing man' as he started the silent act of resistance, before he was joined by a large group.

A single man who started standing silently in the middle Istanbul’s city center has provoked a silent struggle across Turkey for the right to protest.

The young man, later identified as performance artist Erdem Gündüz, stood in the same place without moving for eight hours on June 17, staring at the flag of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on the Atatürk Culture Center (AKM).

The police have been limiting access to the city center following the crackdown on Gezi Park protesters. Over the weekend, the police evacuated the city center to stop the Gezi Park occupation, which started three weeks ago against a controversial renovation plan, and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality planted trees and flowers in the park, which is closed to the public now.

“Clearing out Taksim Square [to pedestrians] as if nothing happened, planting trees in Gezi Park... Pretending as if nothing happened [in Taksim] is in fact the biggest violence,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News.

We won’t intervene against ‘standing man’ protest, unless it disrupts public order: Turkish minister

Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Güler has said that the protest would not be subject to an intervention unless it began to constitute a menace against public order.

“We don’t intervene against any protest that does not disrupt public order or affect life in general,” he said.

“If it doesn’t turn into an act of violence, does not disrupt the public order and does not limit other people’s freedom, everyone has such a right [to stage a protest].”

Güler also said this protest shouldn’t affect traffic and also excluded the legitimacy of a protest in Ankara’s Kızılay that would continue from morning till night. “This is all about public order,” he added.

'Standing’ not a crime: Bar Association head

Union of Turkish Bar Associations head Metin Feyzioğlu also declared that the standing man’s act was not a crime according to the Turkish Criminal Code.

Though the detention of a man who stands still on pavement would have a provision in the Turkish Criminal Code, the policeman would at least be guilty of “malpractice” or “restricting freedom.”

“‘Standing’ does not constitute a crime by any means,” he said, adding that there was no stance more democratic than this. “Humanity cannot find a more democratic type of protest,” he said.

In conformity with the remarks of the interior minister, “If a person does not block the traffic and does not break the public order, he can stand. The police cannot intervene,” Feyzioğlu said.

Act of defiance turned into nationwide silent struggle

People across the country were quick to pick up the new protest, and hundreds of photos showing people standing still have been shared so far.

The protest spread across the country hours after Gündüz’s launch.

In the western province of İzmir, a group of around 100 people blocked the traffic at Gündoğan Square around 2:30 a.m. in the morning, shortly after a ‘standing woman’ started standing in the middle of Kızılay Square in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

A small group of people, including lawyers, also “stood” for more than one hour June 18 in the Istanbul courthouse in support of the “standing man.”

Another man joined the action in the Aegean province of Muğla with an umbrella to protect himself from the 37 degree of temperature.

One photo showed people standing still in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas, in front of the Madımak Hotel where 33 intellectuals and two hotel workers died when radical Islamists attacked the hotel on July 2, 1993.

Another photo showed three people standing in front of the offices of weekly Agos, where Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was shot and killed on Jan. 19, 2007.


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Notice on comments

London PoliticalEconomist

8/26/2013 8:55:02 PM

Sorry, friends, this standing man portended the end of the Gezi mobilizations. It demobilized people instantly in Turkey. There's no need to be silent about what going on in Turkey. Silence is what has gotten Erdogan this far, is it not?

Mehmet Ungrateful

6/19/2013 5:30:21 PM

If this type of protest starts getting on the bigot Tyrant's nerves he will order the police to gas him, that is the only way they know I'm afraid. Please leave Mehmet Ud alone, no good arguing with these types at all.

Cem Ian Hanley

6/19/2013 5:13:17 PM

If 30,000 had "stood" in taksim at the beginning, the police would have tried evrything they could to move them, including water cannon. Remember they used water cannon and pepper spray on people sitting in a park, AND set fire to their tents.

hanni bal

6/19/2013 2:37:45 PM

If the early demonstrations were inspired by this way, I believe it will have a more peaceful and fruitful coordination between the government and its people.Almost of problems will be solve immediately without a stone being cast.

Rana Hajiyeva

6/19/2013 1:21:47 PM

If all those "democtrats" would stand like this man, there will not be any police intevention. But no. These "democrats" had to vandalize and burn down everything. Those criminals must be stopped. I am on Erdogans side.

Yıldız pascale

6/19/2013 10:51:44 AM

Who s this Mehmed Ud? He must like Erdogan s true colors! Thanks to the innocent protestors, the standing man and honest media, everyone in Turkey and around the World now knows who the real PM is and what he's feelings are about the Turkish people! Its such a shame for a government who claims they have accomplished so much during the past 10 years, what they consider good mustn be good enough!

polo paca

6/19/2013 9:51:43 AM

This show looks like a TV advertisement campaign. The ex communist ad scenario writers must have spent some time on it before releasing. Also a performance artist is a very good choice for starting the show. But do not forget, it is an artistic blended ku de ta, against democratically elected government. Yet it is better than burning the city.


6/18/2013 7:43:25 PM

This unrest started with a bang but dying out with a wimper and this standing man is a proof of that. Can someone give him a chair? and can someone hang erdogan picture along the cultural centre so he could stare at him as well? Does Mehmet ud really believe this rubbish he wrote ........... I am Scottish and so proud of the standing man and right will overcome evil in the end Donald.


6/18/2013 7:18:48 PM

I am in the UK and so surprised about the lack of news here regarding the protests in Turkey, I have many friends who live there and just want them to know that the world is watching and the standing men and women do not stand alone.... so many, many people are supporting you all. Donald.

american american

6/18/2013 5:17:00 PM

mehmet ud, you are believing your own propaganda. these protests were never violent, the police and the government were sadistic and evil in their handling of it and the protests in turn had to fight for their literal survival. he is not a lazy sultan who needs people to do his every bidding. you show yourself as someone who is happy turks are dead, the innocent injured and unjustly imprisoned, and ready to keep imposing your will on others who do not want it. you want us to all die by the sword
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