'Standing Man' goes viral, inspires silent protests in Turkey

Erdem Gunduz, center, stands on Taksim Square during a protest that was quickly dubbed "duranadam" or "standing man", in Istanbul, Turkey, early on June 18, 2013. Gunduz was briefly searched and questioned by police, media reports said.

By Reuters
A Turkish man has staged an eight-hour silent vigil on Istanbul's Taksim Square, scene of violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters in recent weeks, inspiring hundreds of others to follow his lead.

Erdem Gunduz said he wanted to take a stand against police stopping demonstrations near the square, Dogan news agency reported.

He stood silently, facing the Ataturk Cultural Center, which was draped in Turkish flags and a portrait of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, from 6 p.m. (11 a.m. ET) on Monday.

Erdem Gunduz stood for several hours unnoticed before his presence on the flashpoint square went viral on the social network Twitter. He was then joined by hundreds of others. Turkish police intervened, clearing the square and arresting several demonstrators.

By 2 a.m. (7 p.m. ET), when the police moved in, about 300 people had joined him. Ten people who refused to be moved on by police were detained.

Gunduz, swiftly dubbed "Standing Man" on social media in Turkey, inspired similar protests elsewhere in Istanbul as well as in the capital Ankara and the city of Izmir on the Aegean coast. Read the full story.

Woman in red sprayed with teargas becomes symbol of Turkey protests

A man emulating Erdem Gunduz by standing on Taksim Square is arrested by police on June 18, 2013.

By Tuesday morning, others had begun to mimic Gunduz' protest in Taksim Square.

A protester stands on Taksim Square on June 18, 2013.

A protester reads a book (Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis") during a 'duranadam' protest in Istanbul on June 18, 2013.

Protests that started as an outcry against a local development project in Taksim Square have snowballed into widespread anger against what critics say is the government's increasingly conservative and authoritarian agenda.

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