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The Role of Young People in decision making: Occupy Gezi

Gezi Park is a small park in Taksim/Istanbul. The park is separated by concrete barriers from heavy traffic. Living in a metropolis sometimes really bothers people as the city is really noisy, crowded and the city that never sleeps. So they can go there for a walk, have a good time, take a breath freely and last but not least, become more aware of the importance of nature.

In 2013, the Turkish government announced that the park is going to be converted into the mall. After the announcement, particularly young people in Turkey started to express their opinions about the construction via social media, announcing that they will protest against it in some way. It was one of the biggest protests in Turkish history in terms of the number of protesters and the impact on society. The event can be considered from various aspects as it had huge political and social impact in the country.

But I would like to point out the environmental side or, to be more precise, how young people can play an important role in the decision making of environmental issues. After the first tree in the park was cut, young people started to came to the park to protest against the decision. Dozens of cities in Turkey supported it even though the park is in Istanbul. The young people made a camp inside of the park and kept it safe. In my opinion, it was really significant to see that environmentalist young people are protecting our nature with their heart and soul. One more thing that I would like to point out is the role of social media in this case. Obviously, the solidarity needs the support of social media in the recent times as most of the people either use it very often or are influenced by it in some way. People were camping in the park and they had been in communication all the time via Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools to supply the needs of each other’s and to warn about the structure of the park as people needed to be more careful about it.

The movement also raised awareness of environmental issues for Turkish people. Even people who have never taken action in it realized how important our nature is for the future. In the end, the protesters achieved their purpose even though they had to leave the park. The Turkish government has changed their mind about the park due to protests and get violent reactions. Undoubtedly, this shows the important role that young people are able to play in environmental issues and in decision making. I reached this conclusion: us, as young people, can protect our nature if we really want to do it.


Written by:

Oguzhan Kamberoglu, YEE intern