What began as a peaceful protest against the removal of green space from Istanbul and spiraled into a violent attack by the police, complete with teargas and water cannons, has erupted into a larger protest against the government in Turkey and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies. Now protesters are criticizing the government’s use of force, lack of care for green space in urban development plans, censorship of the media, and even support for Syrian rebels. When mainstream news channels in Turkey ran “beauty contests or documentaries on penguins” instead of footage of injured protesters, Turks realized that their grievances were being smothered by their government rather than being heard by international audiences.
Frightened by the lack of awareness of the protests in Turkey, three Turkish professionals living in New York City, Murat Aktihanoglu, Oltac Unsal, and Duygy Atacan set up an Indigogo campaign to crowdfund a “full page ad for Turkish democracy in action,” a way to raise global awareness of the reasoning behind and the demands of the Turkish protests. Their goal was to crowdsource as many aspects of the campaign as possible, including using Google Docs to edit the text and graphics of the ad in real time and surveys to vote on the best version of the ad. The trio, all three with backgrounds in technology, used Twitter to promote their campaign.
The final version of the ad begins,
“What is Happening in Turkey?
People of Turkey have spoken: We will not be oppressed!
Millions are outraged by the violent reaction of their government to a peaceful protest aimed at saving Istanbul’s Gezi Park.
Outraged, yet not surprised.
Over the course of Prime Minister Erdoğan’s ten-year term, we have witnessed a steady erosion of our civil rights and freedoms. Arrests of numerous journalists, artists, and elected officials and restrictions on freedom of speech, minorities’ and women’s rights all demonstrate that the ruling party is not serious about democracy.”
According to Forbes, the campaign reached its initial funding goal of $53,800 in just 18 hours, making it the fastest growing major politics funding campaign in Indiegogo’s history. To date, the campaign has raised over $99,000, though 25 days of funding remain for the campaign.
Now that the New York Times has agreed to run the ad in its front section by the end of the week, what more could be weighing on the trio’s shoulders? What to do with the $45K+ in extra funds raised. You can visit this thread on Reddit to see the crowdsourced ideas in progress, which include funding a documentary about the protests.
What do you think about this innovative approach to crowdfunding a protest? Do you think this strategy will be widely adopted by other protest groups in the future?