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#OccupyGezi

Protests happened in Turkey for 3 days to protect a park.

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Gezi Park Protests

Via cdn.opendemocracy.net

On May 26 2013, a wave of demonstrations started when the government’s controversial renovation plan for the city center, known as the “Taksim pedestrianization project”, which planned to destroy one of the only green areas in Istanbul. During the 3 days protests took place, Turkish people denied of their right to assemble peacefully, and they have subjected to abusive use of force by law enforcement officials, lawful detentions, investigations and prosecutions for participating in or organizing protests and 11 people were lost their lives and there were at least 8,163 injured citizens (Amnesty.org, 2013).

Turkish Press

However, during those 3 days, government controlled Turkish mass media showed almost nothing about the Occupy Gezi. At one of the most ridiculous moments, when police did attack the protesters with a tear gas in the center of Istanbul; Taksim Square, CNN Turk - one of the biggest TV news channel showed a documentary about penguins. After this unreasonable attitude of this particular TV channel, penguin chosen as the symbol of Occupy Gezi by Turkish protesters

Use of Social Media in Protests

Via wordpress.com

New online communication tools and technologies, including social networking sites and media-sharing web options such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog sites have offered critical assets for the development and evolution of social movements in recent years. They have contributed in highly meaningful ways to the creation, association, and execution of social and political movements and developments far and wide. Improvements to social media opened doors for web-based social movements and cyberactivism, thus changing the nature of social protest movements. Cyberactivism is a developing field of academic study, which has yet to be fully understood, and it is to a great extent failing to offer up an accepted, durable heading. This said, Langman (2005) claims that “. . . social protest movements organized and coordinated through the Internet . . . made contemporary globalization possible and also led to the emergence of virtual public spheres [where people attempt to interpret and understand crises, injustices, and adversities in order to envision alternatives and map strategies], and, in turn, Internet social movements.” (Langman, 2005, p.55). Other researchers have also indicated that new communication tools, especially in the domain of social media, such as SMS (i.e., “short messaging services”), social networking sites, and also blogs are “. . . collectively, an important new resource for the successful organization and implementation of social movements” (Eltantawy & Wiest, 2011, p.1208). Social media tools have been utilized particularly in organizing and practising collective movements, supporting communities, establishing a collective identity among protesters, creating political arenas that promote the free discussion of ideas, fostering or attempting to foster connections between social movements, and in introducing and providing ongoing information on a wide range of social and political causes in order to get support from people all around the world. Additionally, after foundation of Facebook and Twitter – 2006, social media has also become a great tool for the term “activism” in social movements – that is participating events on the Internet, especially in the way that Twitter hashtags (Eltantawy & West, 2011,

Mobilization Theory and Social Media

Resource mobilization theory “is a structural perspective of social movements that takes grievances as a given and thus seeks to explain the emergence, persistence, and decline of social movements by examining how social actors create or gain access to key resources to pursue a common agenda” (Corte, 2013, p.32). Resource mobilization theory makes clear that both the accessibility of applicable resources and peoples’ ability to successfully use such resources adequately is fundamental to social movements (Hamdy, 2009). One of the most significant impacts of the use of social media in the Occupy Gezi movement is the way it changed the flow of social mobilization. Social media offered both speed in communication transmissions and information sharing and a degree of social interactivity that the resource mobilization theory identified and deemed necessary for successful social mobilization;

Citizens use Social Media

Via dw.com

Since Turkish mass media didn't show anything about this particular social movement, Turkish protestors decided to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools in order to broadcast the information about the event. Turkish protesters were on Twitter, Facebook, and various online journals posting updates and uploading pictures of the movement during the Gezi event. Various individual activists who had sufficient awareness of social networking resources helped bring the political and social upset to life in Turkey. Some activists created Twitter hashtags such as #OccupyGezi #DirenGeziParki to attract protesters and supporters critical of present conditions in Turkey. Throughout the Occupy Gezi in early 2013. Turkish protesters were (mostly) on Twitter posting updates and uploading pictures of current events, and activists tried to broadcast instructions to inform people for further actions.

Internet Censorship

Via therules.org

When Erdogan – the Prime Minister of Turkish Republic understood the power of social media to advance the anti-government riots and its exceptional capacity as a venue for creating associations among protesters, it cut off Internet access and mobile phone communication across Turkey (Wilson & Dunn, 2011, p.1253). When protesters became aware of the government’s actions, they turned to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sources and online technologies to alert the outside world. Although the government had shut down the Internet, a few protesters still figured out how to get their messages out online, again with the support of social networking tools, such as blogs. about how to connect with others without using Internet. Moreover, some Turks figured out how to use Twitter by utilizing substitutes or by calling contacts abroad from landlines and requesting that they tweet messages on their behalf. A number of young activists also tried to change the IP and VPN numbers of their computers in order to connect to particular social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook, and once they obtained access to log in to their accounts they started to broadcast the necessary information and tips to other protesters who were struggling to connect to the Internet (Hamdy, 2009). The following quote also illustrates an example of how a blogger came up with a possible solution for communicating with people without using the Internet: “OK, it may sound crazy but I think I found a possible solution to connect to the Internet even through the cut off. The solution is by going back to the basics. So instead of connecting to the local Turkish ISPs . . . we will try to bypass it and connect to REMOTE free ones via the phone network” (Manal, 2011). The above example clearly show that Turkish activists made immense efforts to achieve their goals against their government both inside and outside of Turkey and were innovative and successful in getting their messages out online even with the Internet shut down.

Feminist Discourse

Via i.telegraph.co.uk

While before, feminism and the battle for women's rights were generously made by upper working class and very educated individuals, today feminism activism makes new points of view of gender and class relations by attempting to rebuild the political circle (Sorbera, 2014, p.67). During the protests, 2 female protesters became a very important symbol of this particular movement. Both the protestors and the media were amazed by these images while at the same time neglecting to characteristic whatever other significance than typical to their dynamic support. Both of these figures, the female symbols of the Occupy Gezi, Woman in Red and Woman in Black were advanced as "courageous, beautiful, lovely women" and anticipated as the desired modern objects of the Turkish country. The commitment of these female figures to the increasing numbers of the activists was in fact vital. Sexual orientation was not an inspiration influencing the cooperation to the protests and events, any case of age or status, rural or urban, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, all women took to the streets and tried to protect their rights and verbalized their demands for change.However, this interest additionally indicates a patriarchal methodology, replicating the talk which dwells upon apprehension, highlighting the delicate and perfect female body, and notwithstanding helping us to remember the great old republican mythology of ladies and their bravery courage the war years (Tekay & Ustun, 2013, p.5).

Conclusion

Via i.guim.co.uk

Turkish activists were doing as far as debating and struggling with possible courses of action and resisting the current oppressive regime is not new in terms of the development and evolution of a social movement through debate and ongoing communication. However, the methods they utilized to correspond with one another and to execute the eventual uprising speak to an essential new resource for collective social and political movements. Social media presented a novel mobilization resource that offered the ability to transmit and receive information more rapidly than ever before. This helped to quickly create and fortify ties among protesters and expand associations among nonconformists and between dissidents; it also helped activists and political dissenters to reach and gain support from those in the world at large more effectively than ever before. Crucial reports and details about the Occupy Gezi movement shared by means of social networking channels supported Turkish dissidents. Protesters who initially united via unique, remote, online gatherings formed increasing channels for keeping in touch during the event. In this way, social media played a vital role in the Occupy Gezi. From this one may conclude that the utility of social media— especially of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube—is a crucial modern mobilization resource in the development and evolution of contemporary social movements and of corresponding social and political change

References

Corte, U. (2013). A Refinement of Collaborative Circles Theory: ResourceMobilization andInnovation in an Emerging Sport. Social Psychology Quarterly, 76(1), 25-51

Eltantawy,N & Wiest, J. (2011). Social Media in the Egyptian Revolution:ReconsideringResource Mobilization Theory. International Journal Communication, 5,1207-1244.

Langman, L. (2005). From virtual public spheres to global justice. A critical interworked socialmovements. Sociological Theory, 23(1), 42-74

Manal (2011). We r trapped inside a building [Twitter post]. Retrieved fromhttp://twitter.com/mfatta7/status/29965109077999616

Hamdy, N. (2009). Arab citizen journalism in action: Challenging mainstream media,authorities and media laws. Westminster papers in Communication andCultures, 6(1),92-122

Gezi Park Protests. (2013). In Amnesty International. Retrieved from https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2014/5/29/1401403783689/turkey2-008.jpg?w=300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=3551ab7c2804a0cbce95234aaa449cc1

Tekay, C. & Ustun, Z. (2013). A History of Feminism in Turkey and Feminist Resistance inGezi.

Wilson, C. & Dunn, A. (2011). Digital Media in the Egyptian Revolution: DescriptiveAnalysis from the Tahrir Data Sets. International Journal of Communication.

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