Nieuws - 13 juni 2013

Wageningen student caught in Turkish protests

Sara Panis, a Wageningen International Development Studies MSc student, experienced the revolts in Turkey at first hand. She visited her sister, who is studying in Ankara.

Sara Panis (right) at the city centre of Ankara.
There have been serious protests recently in Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of Turks have taken to the streets, where the police have been dealing roughly with them. The catalyst for the protests was the plan for a new shopping centre but Sara says they are about much more than that. 'The people are fed up with the autocratic rule of the conservative prime minister, Erdogan. The extremely aggressive behaviour of the police is the final straw.' This has made even Sara angry, she says in the blog she wrote for Resource.
Sara and her travelling companion had no idea what was going on when they arrived in Istanbul. 'We thought it wouldn't be that bad and set off for Taksim square, the heart of the protests. Suddenly, a huge mass of people were fleeing, running towards us. We weren't sure what we had to run from but we turned around immediately.'
She only realized things were really bad the next day, in Ankara. Even so, she was unable to avoid ending up in the middle of an uprising on her way to the hostel. 'Numerous roads were blocked by rows of police standing shoulder to shoulder, with helmets and riot shields. We saw a water cannon pass and people wearing gas masks. The tear gas got into our eyes and lungs, hurting our eyes and throats.' At night, she saw from her hostel how policemen beat up an older man.  'Without any provocation.' Read Sara's story on