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
August
 
 
 
 
 
1
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Fri
2
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sat
3
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Artful Sunday: Wrapped Art
Sun
4
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Mon
5
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Tue
6
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Get Moving - A Walking Group for Caregivers
Wed
7
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Thu
8
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Fri
9
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sat
10
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sun
11
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Mon
12
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
UK Working Moms Connection
Tue
13
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Wed
14
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Thu
15
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Fri
16
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sat
17
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sun
18
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Mon
19
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Tue
20
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Chronic Disease Self-Management Program
Wed
21
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Thu
22
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Midnight Dodgeball Tournament
CARES First Year Focus Parent Meetings
CARES First Year Focus Parent Meetings
Parent and Families Reception
Residence Hall Floor Meeting
Off-campus Freshmen Check-in
K Team Meeting: K Week Kick-off
Death By Chocolate
Fri
23
Employee Educational Assistance Award
A Parent's Guide to Life after August 23
Campus Safety Information Session
Donut Avoid The Study
Common Cents: Money Management for College Students Session 1
See Blue...See Community
Succeeding in A Large Lecture Classroom
Horses, Bluegrass, Basketball, and More: Welcome to Kentucky
Success at Any Age: College Tips for Adult Learners
Write Right: Tips for Writing Well in College
Common Cents: Money Management for College Students Session 2
How to Graduate in Four Years
Parental Involvement in Fraternity and Sorority Life
Parents Watch for Warning Signs: Suicide Prevention for College Students
Preparing to be a Pre-Professional
Presentation U!: Where YOU are the Ultimate Presentation
Religious Life at UK
Successful Off-Campus Living
The Transfer Student Cruise: Navigating your way through UK
UK Parking & Transportation 101
You Heard It Here First: Tips From A Faculty Member
New Student Induction Ceremony
Minority Student Welcome
Transfer Student Cookout
K Team Meeting: K Week Overview
Men's Soccer vs. Georgia State
Big Blue U
Campus Ruckus
Campus Ruckus
Sat
24
Employee Educational Assistance Award
LNFS Presents: Jackass 3
LNFS Presents: Godzilla
Pedalpalooza
K Team Meeting: Lunch and Campus Tour
Center for Community Outreach: Do Good, Start Here.
UK Lex-Mart
Alternative Service Breaks: See the World, Change the World
From the Real World to the Amazing Race, Don't Wipeout: Your Advisor, Advising, and You
Blackboard Basics
Student Government Association Information Session
EMPOWER: Women’s Leadership Retreat Interest Session
Student Center Spectacular
Student Center Spectacular
Sun
25
Employee Educational Assistance Award
UK FUSION
UK Parking & Transportation 101
University of Kentucky Association for Transfer Students Interest Session
Candy, Condoms, Coffee
Cleaner, Healthier, Cheaper, Faster: Why Bicycling is the Best Way to Get Around Campus (and how to do it safely)
Working on Campus
K Team Meeting: Dinner with your K Team
Meijer Mania
Mon
26
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Last Day to Drop a Course with 100% Refund
Chem at UK Cafe-N-OJ with the Student American Chemical Society
Coffee (or Coke), Cookies, & Communication!: Come see blue. at Presentation U!
Don't Blow Yourself Up: Surviving Chemistry
Fraternity Recruitment Info Session
OMG! Did I Just E-Mail That to My Professor???
Surviving Your First Year and Beyond: Strategies To Do Well in Your Classes
Sustainable UK: Exploring Environmental Programs in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment (CAFE)
A User Guide for Your Mathematics Class
Discover the UK Art Museum
K Team Meeting: Common Reading Experience Discussion
Common Reading Introduction for International Students
Transfer Student Meet and Greet
We Are UK
Rec 'N Roll 2014
Big Blue Bingo Night
Mic Check
Tue
27
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Fraternity Recruitment Info Session
LNFS Presents: Jurassic Park
First Day of Classes
Campus Outreach
Opening Act: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Wed
28
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Her
LNFS Presents: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Student Involvement Fair
OrgSync Info session
LGBTQ* Welcome Back
Dive Into Diversity!
Residence Hall Floor Meetings
Thu
29
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Sea of Blue
One Last Beach Bash: RSA Block Party
LNFS Presents: Team America: World Police
Pills and Pizza
K Week Event: Pills and Pizza
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Wichita State
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Francis Marion
Fri
30
Employee Educational Assistance Award
LNFS Presents: Neighbors
The Tailgate "Kick-Off"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Butler
Kentucky Football vs. UT-Martin
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Virginia Tech
Sat
31
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ohio
Men's Soccer vs. Belmont
Sun
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aug 22
Midnight Dodgeball Tournament 08/22/2014
Reset Page