Istanbul's Gentrification Wars
The mass protests surrounding Gezi Park, the corruption scandals, the Soma mining accident — none of these incidents will stop the majority of Turks from electing Recep Tayyip Erdogan as president. Among other things, this means that ambitious development projects will likely multiply — and with them, the controversies Erdogan's AKP party aggressive policies routinely provoke.
The Gezi uprising that rocked Turkey in June 2013 was sparked by a government project to transform the park in central Istanbul into a gigantic mall. And while a relentless police crackdown has led many of last year's protesters to abandon hope, the problems at the heart of Erdogan's vision for Turkey's urban development have not gone away. Those directly affected by the aggressive development of their neighborhoods are often left with only one of two options: to despair, or to fight.
One group that has decided to take the fight to the government is the Revolutionary People's Liberation Front, or DKHP/C. This extreme-left party, labeled a terrorist organization by the EU, is entrenched in many of the disenfranchised neighborhoods that have become targets for ruthless urban development. To stave off the forced relocation of inhabitants, the DKHP/C militants are prepared to combat not only the police, but also violent drug gangs that terrorize their neighborhoods, which they believe are collaborating with the state.
VICE News travelled to Istanbul to meet the DKHP/C on its home turf, document its fierce clashes with the police on May Day, and understand what motivates these violent, self-proclaimed champions of the poor.