Paradise Lost: What the Turkish PM Destroyed in Istanbul and What He Planted in Its Place

Posted on June 18, 2013


paradise lost

Tell Sir Thomas More we’ve got another failed attempt  –   “So Says I” by The Shins

In a brilliant political move by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the lovable Istanbul police have tenderly planted more trees in Taksim’s Gezi Park today. The evicted protesters left behind a garden of flowers and saplings they had planted before being politely asked and gently nudged out of the park. In an adorable display of compassion, the police are even protecting this little garden left by the çapulcular (riff raff).

Alright, enough of the sarcasm. No one in Istanbul has changed their mind about the government over this gesture. That’s kind of hard to do after they have gassed you inside a hotel lobby or water-cannoned you inside a hospital or given you 1st and 2nd degree burns from chemicals they have mixed into the water.

One message that people here are receiving is that the park is now occupied by police. Which is fitting really. A public park (see- public space, free speech) has been replaced with a police state.

I won’t forget what used to be there. For a few wonderful days, Gezi Park was a real utopia. It was an experiment in art, free speech, and democracy. To get the vibe, think Woodstock but replace drugs and sex with doting grannies and coloring toddlers.

Please let me take you on a brief stroll through this amazing place that was.

Any tour of Gezi must begin with the sublime Revolution Museum. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it is both a beautiful work of organic art and the best museum I have ever visited.

welcome to the revolution museum

‘Welcome to the Revolution Museum’ Spray paint: ‘Welcome to the traditional gas festival’

Marginal looter

Above we can see this marginal looter terrorist riff raff old man – as the PM likes to call them.

The Prime Minister of Pain

Oh, here’s the PM now! In Turkey, tear gas is an offer you can’t refuse.


The museum is filled with iconic pictures from the protests.

How Turkish women get their excercise

This is how Turkish women get their exercise.

Anyone can write on the walls of the museum and change it in anyway. Here someone is complaining about the helicopters.


Red sign tells Tayyip to “Just shut up!”

police gear

Police gear


Here we see a Redhack tag. Redhack is the hacktivist group of Turkey. Like the group Anonymous, they hack government websites in the name of the people.

riff raff palace hotel

As the sign says, this is the “Riff raff palace hotel.” Notice it has received 7 stars.

spacious rooms

Here is a peek in one of their spacious suites.

police bulletin board

The armored police vehicle was turned into a community bullentin board/mural.

Nice pun

Çapulcu’s (riff raff) enjoy puns. In Turkish, ‘halk’ means ‘the people.’ This protester took off his foot.

makeshift hospital

Here is one of the many hospitals in Gezi. Note there is a Çarşı fan exiting. Those guys always need medical help.

clean up crew

Clean up crew.

protest tree

This tree bears the names of the many cities protesting in Turkey. There is a sad photo of this tree in flames after the eviction.

Wall of needs

 In this picture, a crazy çapulcu takes a wetnap from the Wall of Needs. You could find many useful items here and all of them free!


This çapulcu gives free hugs.

hammock guy

This çapulcu occupied a hammock for many days. I had the rare privilege of seeing him descend!


There were always lots of children there. Here is a whole giant tent just for them. The children’s drawing park was always busy.


Gezi was truly a mix of people. There were plenty of devout Muslims participating.


They even had a free veterinarian. He stayed pretty busy as there was a steady stream of strays being brought to his office.

Gezi park gardens

Here is the garden created by the protesters.

not what you would expect

I love this picture. A covered lady dons a Guy Fox mask.

arrested development

Arrested Development. Construction equipment for the proposed mall.


Turks woke up and realized their media was a farce. TV news channels didn't show the uprising but instead showed penguin documentaries.

Turks woke up and realized that their media was a farce. TV news channels refused to show the mass uprising and showed cooking shows and penguin documentaries instead.

divan otel

 Behind this kebab seller is the Divan Hotel. This hotel was famous for allowing injured protesters to seek refuge in their lobby. Shockingly, police fired tear gas inside the hotel which can be fatal. Many injured children were also gassed here.


A complete (unofficial) psychological analysis of PM Tayyip Erdoğan is hanging on this tent. I wonder if it says nice things?


 There was actually so much more to see, but I realize attention spans are only so long. I will miss Gezi Park. Police now occupy the park, and Erdoğan has turned Turkey into a police state. But I have a feeling it will belong to the people of this city again.