Sarah Geegan

By

College: Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce

UK's Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh Shares Experiences From Riots, Protests in Turkey

Published: Jun 13, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 13, 2013) The UK Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce encourages faculty to travel overseas so they can observe firsthand political and economic developments and later draw upon that experience in the classroom.  Two weeks ago, that approach led Patterson School Director Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh to Turkey, where he witnessed the violent clash in Istanbul between police and demonstrators. 

 

Ambassador Cavanaugh shared his experiences from this historic demonstration.

 

What did you see and experience in Istanbul?

 

After discussions with government officials, diplomats, and journalists, I had just finished a meeting about Kurds at the Marmara Hotel which sits on Taksim Square. 

 

Then all hell broke loose.

 

Coming into the hotel I had seen several hundred peaceful demonstrators conducting a sit-in to protest the planned bulldozing of a park that adjoins the square to make way for a new shopping mall and luxury apartments.  Now, I looked down on the square as the first tear gas canisters exploded and hundreds of protesters scrambled for safety.  The police assault came with little to no warning.  Indeed, Taksim Square was chock full of regular workday traffic, taxi cabs, and even three open-top double decker buses showing tourists the sights. 

 

Tear gas grenades and shells now started going off everywhere, feeding the chaos.  Squads of police in riot gear blocked most escape routes from the square and as clouds of tear gas choked the air (and seeped into the lobby of the hotel where I was watching), police armored water cannon trucks rolled in.  A protester appeared in front of the hotel with a gas mask on her head, waving a sign “protect our park” and then disappeared, as ambulances arrived to remove the injured. 

 

A brief skirmish ensued just outside the hotel window as a half-dozen protesters threw stones at helmeted police carrying Plexiglas shields, but they were easily overwhelmed by the power of the water cannon.  In all over several hundred people were injured and about a hundred arrested.

 

My group waited for an opportune moment and then sprinted through the tear gas into a van to leave the area.  As we crossed the city it was clear that the heavy police action had only made the situation worse.  Protests were breaking out across the city, with calls to assemble once more at Taksim Square.

 

Is Taksim going to be like Cairo’s Tahrir Square?  Can we expect a “Turkish Spring?”

 

I don’t think so.  While the demonstrations have intensified and spread to other cities in Turkey, there are several fundamental differences. 

 

First, there is no unifying theme among the demonstrators.  Some protesters were environmentalists, some were upset over the growing class divide in the city, while others used the occasion to underscore their opposition to the greater role of Islam in Turkish society or their opposition to the ruling party and the authoritarian tendencies of the prime minister.  Still others were dismayed that the Turkish government was siding with other Western countries and not backing the government of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.

 

Second, in contrast to the poverty and desperation that marked the protests in Tunisia and Egypt, Turkey is in the midst of an enormous economic boom.  It has the fastest growing economy in Europe, has relatively low unemployment, and a growing middle class.  Some demonstrators’ complaints center on plans to build a third suspension bridge across the Bosphorus (construction began last week), a third international airport (which will become the world’s largest with the capacity to handle 150 million passengers), and even a new 30 mile long canal that would link the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.

 

Third, the Turkish government has backed off somewhat.  Police have allowed protests to continue and the government has apologized for using “excessive violence.” 

 

What these demonstrations do represent is a wake up call to the Turkish government to pay more attention to the electorate and be more responsive to their needs.  Protests like this have been rare in Turkey, but growing restrictions on freedom of the press and assembly, and a sense of greater Islamization of Turkish society have spurred people to action. 

 

After 10 years in power, there is a growing perception that the ruling party and Prime Minister Erdogan have become too accustomed to doing whatever they want.   Mr. Erdogan’s dismissive comments regarding the demonstrators have only intensified that perception and led even more individuals to join their cause (he called them hoodlums, looters, and suggested the protests were linked to terrorism.  He also called Twitter a “menace to society”). 

 

Tens of thousands are now protesting at Taksim Square and Gezi Park, with thousands more across Turkey participating in activities to show their solidarity.  The government needs to show that it is listening and understands.

 

Will all this be reflected in your teaching?

 

What I witnessed will definitely be a topic of discussion this fall.  Patterson School students are trained in statecraft and this month’s events are showing vividly what works and what does not.  We have also been examining in our program Internet freedom and the impact social media can play in politics.  While Taksim may not have the same impact as Tahrir, it definitely underscores once more the dramatic impact of social media as a political instrument. 

 

 

Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh came to the Patterson School after a Foreign Service career centered on conflict resolution, political-military affairs, and humanitarian issues. In addition to Washington assignments in the State Department, Pentagon, and on Capitol Hill, Ambassador Cavanaugh served in Berlin, Moscow, Tbilisi, Rome, and Bern. In 1992, he established the first U.S. Embassy to the new Republic of Georgia, serving as Chargé d'affaires. Under Presidents Clinton and Bush, he spearheaded or helped advance peace efforts involving Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Turkey. His final government assignment was foreign policy/political advisor to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Mullen.

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Geegan, (859) 257-5365; sarah.geegan@uky.edu 

2.jpg1.jpg3.jpg4.jpg5.jpg6.jpg7.jpg
October
 
 
 
1
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Wed
2
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Thu
3
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Fri
4
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Sat
5
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Sun
6
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Mon
7
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Tue
8
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Wed
9
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Thu
10
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Fri
11
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Sat
12
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Sun
13
 
Mon
14
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
Tue
15
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Wed
16
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
Thu
17
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Fri
18
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Sat
19
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Sun
20
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Mon
21
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Tue
22
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Campus Sustainability Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Wed
23
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
Thu
24
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Peanut Butter Drive
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Fri
25
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
26
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
Sun
27
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Mon
28
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Tue
29
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Wed
30
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
Film Viewing and Discussion of The Other Boleyn Girl
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
Thu
31
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference
Fri
 

Tue, 10/21/2014

Reset Page