‘Standing Man’ Finder: The Spread of Silent Protest in Turkey

On Monday night, beginning at 6 p.m., Turkish performance artist Erdem Gunduz walked to the middle of Istanbul’s Taksim Square, which was cleared of protesters on Sunday, and, facing Turkish flags and a portrait of the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, stood quietly. Within hours, his silent protest had gone viral — pictures of Gunduz ...

MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images
MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images
MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday night, beginning at 6 p.m., Turkish performance artist Erdem Gunduz walked to the middle of Istanbul's Taksim Square, which was cleared of protesters on Sunday, and, facing Turkish flags and a portrait of the country's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, stood quietly. Within hours, his silent protest had gone viral -- pictures of Gunduz proliferated across social media, memes like the #duranadam (Turkish for "standing man") Twitter hashtag cropped up, and people across Turkey began imitating his understated protest (as a rule of thumb, never underestimate the power of a solitary protester). By 2 a.m., the crowd standing with Gunduz in Taksim Square had swelled to several hundred people. Police then dispersed the protesters, arresting several people.

By Tuesday, Turkey's minister of the interior, Muammer Guler, had informed the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that police will not disrupt "standing man" protests -- though he didn't comment on the arrests last night. But if the government does eventually choose to intervene in the new wave of demonstrations, it will have its hands full. Activists have returned to Taksim Square, and the impromptu protests that started last night have spread from neighborhood to neighborhood in Istanbul and across Turkey. Here are just some of the stand-ins.

Below, lawyers in an Istanbul courthouse. 

On Monday night, beginning at 6 p.m., Turkish performance artist Erdem Gunduz walked to the middle of Istanbul’s Taksim Square, which was cleared of protesters on Sunday, and, facing Turkish flags and a portrait of the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, stood quietly. Within hours, his silent protest had gone viral — pictures of Gunduz proliferated across social media, memes like the #duranadam (Turkish for “standing man”) Twitter hashtag cropped up, and people across Turkey began imitating his understated protest (as a rule of thumb, never underestimate the power of a solitary protester). By 2 a.m., the crowd standing with Gunduz in Taksim Square had swelled to several hundred people. Police then dispersed the protesters, arresting several people.

By Tuesday, Turkey’s minister of the interior, Muammer Guler, had informed the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that police will not disrupt “standing man” protests — though he didn’t comment on the arrests last night. But if the government does eventually choose to intervene in the new wave of demonstrations, it will have its hands full. Activists have returned to Taksim Square, and the impromptu protests that started last night have spread from neighborhood to neighborhood in Istanbul and across Turkey. Here are just some of the stand-ins.

Below, lawyers in an Istanbul courthouse. 

Kizilay Square, Ankara, where protester Ethem Sarisuluk was shot by police.

Antakya, where protester Abdullah Comert was killed.

Outside the offices of the Turkish television channel NTV, which protesters have criticized for not covering the Gezi Park protests.

Outside the offices of Sabah, another news outlet that has been accused of government bias.

In Izmir.

And they’re back in Taksim Square today.

 

J. Dana Stuster is a policy analyst at the National Security Network. Twitter: @jdanastuster

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