By Daren Butler
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Performance artist Erdem Gunduz became the new symbol of anti-government protests in Turkey on Tuesday after his eight-hour vigil in Taksim Square earned him the nickname “the Standing Man”.
Images of Gunduz standing quietly in the large, open square, the cradle of three weeks of often violent unrest, have struck a chord with sympathizers more used to witnessing stone-throwing youths battling police tear gas and water cannon.
Twitter lit up with messages of support, although Gunduz sought to play down his importance in demonstrations that have shaken Turkey’s image of stability in the volatile Middle East.
“Maybe the media and people will learn something from this silent standing, this resistance,” Gunduz said in an interview with Hurriyet TV. “Maybe they will feel some empathy. I am just an ordinary citizen of this country. We want our voices to be heard.”
Gunduz said he was protesting in solidarity with demonstrators who were evicted at the weekend from Gezi Park adjoining Taksim, an intervention by police that triggered some of the most violent clashes to date.