Taksim square and its surrounding Beyoğlu-Pera district are the artistic and entertainment centers of Istanbul.
The sensibility of the Turkish youth, intellectuals, NGO’s and artistic community, is very understandable in regards to the protection of the Gezi Park which has become a symbol of free speech, peace and democratic solidarity, not just in the country, but also in the world. It’s not acceptable for a government to enforce the destruction of a park, against the will of the people in that city.
Also in the clashes between the police and the protesters, the excessive use of police force as well as tear gas at dangerous levels, are unacceptable. It is now obvious that those problems between the Turkish government and the large group of protesters are obviously beyond this park. İAA is concerned about the repeated attacks on secular lifestyles as well as the freedom of speech and the democratic rights of the opposition. As far as the Turkish governments insisting efforts in changing other groups lifestyles, we would like to remind our resolution approved in Bratislava at the European IAA Meeting in 2010:
“When, conflicts arise, between different lifestyles, cultures and religions, it has to be accepted that all lifestyles are untouchable and sacred as one another, not just the religious ones. The rights of an artist or contemporary secular democratic person are also untouchable as the rights of any believer to any religion”
Which leads us to conclude that the Turkish government and the city of Istanbul have to take into consideration the will of the Istanbul community. For the future of democracy, brotherhood and lasting peace within the country, the government should neither interfere in freedom of speech or secular lifestyles, nor continue to use brutal force within the country against pacifist demands of mutual respect.
IAA/UNESCO (International Association of Art) WORLD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Rosa Maria Burillo Velasco