A man’s single act of defiance in Taksim Square last night has spread across Turkey and turned into a silent struggle for the right to protest.
News of the “standing man” began spreading on social media shortly after the act of defiance began, and the Twitter hashtag #duranadam (“standing man”) quickly became the world’s top Twitter trending topic.
One man, later identified as performance artist Erdem Gunduz, began his stand silently around 6 p.m. in the middle of Taksim Square, where police are limiting access following the crackdown on Gezi Park protestors on June 15.
The young man stood in the same place without moving; staring at the flag of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, which is hung on the Ataturk Culture Center (AKM), a scene of the struggle between police and protesters over the last three weeks.
Gunduz, who started the protest, left the scene just before police intervened against the protestors around 2 a.m. today. Ten people, who “insisted on standing”, were taken into custody.
Gunduz said his protest targeted both the media and the government. “The real violence is not showing what is going on,” he said. “Four people have died, there are thousands of wounded but the media, unfortunately, have shown us nothing.”
The government is the main focus of Gunduz’s reaction. “Opening the Taksim square [to pedestrians] as if nothing happened, planting trees in Gezi Park… These are not good intentions,” he was quoted as saying.
People across the country were quick to pick up the new style of protest, and hundreds of photos showing people standing still have been shared so far. One photo showed people standing still in the central Anatolian province of Sivas, in front of the Madimak Hotel where 33 intellectuals and two hotel workers died when radical Islamists attacked the hotel on July 2, 1993.