Turkish police saw Gezi activists as morally-problematic ‘others’

Turkish police saw Gezi activists as morally-problematic ‘others’

Turkish police saw Gezi activists as morally-problematic ‘others’


Police officers in Turkey viewed the activists in the Gezi Park protests of summer 2013 as “morally problematic outsiders,” according to a new report written by a local Police Academy scholar.

Dr. Ahmet Erkan Koca’s 100-page report, “The Gezi Incidents According to the Police,” was quoted by daily Milliyet on Feb. 2. In the report, Koca interviewed a large number of police officers who were on duty during the anti-government Gezi Park protests, which broke out in May 2013 and shook the country for weeks.

“According to many [police officers], those who participated in the Gezi protests were outsiders, or others,” the report stated. The police officers perceived themselves as “nationalist, religious, moral and statist,” while the protesting “others” lagged behind in the adoption of these values and had taken a “morally problematic” path.

“These people have a problem with the values of this country,” one police officer is quoted in the report as saying. “They are not from here. They are not one of us. They have an allergy for whatever is national and religious. They are arrogant.”

The report concluded that while the police perceived themselves as “the oppressed side” during the protests, the Gezi phenomenon showed that “traditional policing methods should be reviewed.”

“In order to prevent future conflicts, the approach of the police should be transformed into one that is loyal to democratic values in a human-oriented way. A militarist internal culture currently dominates the police force, as it is not internally pluralist. This hinders the development of a structure that we could call a ‘police of the people,’” Koca’s report also stated.