Young Turks are turning their backs on Erdogan

uinjustice. Again and again injustice. Büsra Üner uses no other word as often as this when she talks about Turkey today. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party since 2002 is called the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

However, the young woman finds that not much is left of these noble goals. She lists what causes injustices: Erdogan’s mega-projects, the erosion of equality between men and women, the erosion of democracy and police violence against demonstrators. And what particularly depresses her generation: Unemployment is increasing sharply. “Injustices everywhere I look,” says Büsra Üner. “And the reason for this is the lack of democracy,” adds her colleague Cemre Kara. The two only know one party that governs the country: Erdogan’s AKP. The times before are only familiar to them from hearsay. Many older Turks who are critical of Erdogan mourn the time before the AKP. But not the 26-year-old Üner and not her colleague Kara, who is a year older. You look to the future. They want to live in a different, democratic Turkey.

“The injustices around me drive me”

Büsra Üner is a sociologist, Cemre Kara an urban planner. Her workplace is the former British post office, the Postane, which is located in the chic Beyoglu district near the Galata Tower. The non-governmental organization “Mekanda Adalet Dernegi” (MAD), the “Centre for Spatial Justice”, has its headquarters in the historic building. The corner building is a popular meeting place for Istanbul residents. They exchange ideas in the café on the ground floor, where you can also eat vegan, they read in the now well-stocked library, they take part in events or simply enjoy the view of the silhouette of Istanbul from the roof terrace. Committed young people come together in the association founded in 2016 to investigate the consequences of projects, especially large projects, on the environment and society. The focus is on distributing space fairly and preventing a few from being allowed to claim this space for themselves at the expense of society.

“The injustices around me drive me to act,” says Büsra Üner. First, as a young feminist, she had fought for gender equality. Then she took part in a workshop by MAD on “Urban Political Ecology”. They walked through a district that is far from the center of Istanbul. This convinced her that research is not just office work, and so today the environment and political ecology are her research areas. Büsra and Cemre are currently collaborating on projects investigating the impact of river basin investments on local communities and the environment. With projects like this, young people give a voice to those who would otherwise not be heard.

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