'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Solidarity!

My adopted country, Turkey, is in turmoil. There is courage and brutality on the streets as ordinary people try to exercise their right to freedom of association, freedom of speech  and freedom to protest. The reaction of the autocracy has been predictable  as they resorted to violence and thuggery – the reaction of the people has not been predictable, at least, not by those blinded by power. The people have not dispersed, nor have they lacked the courage to make a stand and resist, peacefully what they perceive to be oppression and denial of their humanity.

This may be a turning point in Turkey’s history that will rank alongside the foundation of the modern republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his colleagues – the very values that he founded the republic upon are under threat. In Istanbul’s Gezi Park in Taksim, a lonely oasis of green in a concrete city, a few trees were to be sacrificed on the alter of corporate greed. It was an insult too far and the people responded. The police, known as ‘Robo Cops’, reacted with predictable brutality and waged war upon their fellow citizens – what followed was not in any contingency plan of this government. What followed is an example to each and every one of us who dreams of living in a free society – if you want freedom and democracy then you need to fight for it and defend it . . this is no longer about protecting a few trees . . this is about democracy and freedom.

A Turk speaks – for country, people and democracy . . the media is closed down in Turkey, help our people – spread and share like never before!

What is Happenning in Istanbul?

01/06/2013 tarihinde yayımlandıby 
 
Görsel

Taken from Occupy Gezi’s Facebook page.

To my friends who live outside of Turkey:

I am writing to let you know what is going on in Istanbul for the last five days. I personally have to write this because most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.

Four days ago a group of people who did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Among them there were many of my friends and students.  Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood! The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees.  Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation.

They did nothing other than standing in front of the machines.

No newspaper, no television channel was there to report the protest. It was a complete media black out.

But the police arrived with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray.  They chased the crowds out of the park.

In the evening the number of protesters multiplied. So did the number of police forces around the park. Meanwhile local government of Istanbul shut down all the ways leading up to Taksim square where the Gezi Park is located. The metro was shut down, ferries were cancelled, roads were blocked.

Yet more and more people made their way up to the center of the city by walking.

They came from all around Istanbul. They came from all different backgrounds, different ideologies, different religions. They all gathered to prevent the demolition of something bigger than the park:

The right to live as honorable citizens of this country.

They gathered and marched. Police chased them with pepper spray and tear gas and drove their tanks over people who offered the police food in return. Two young people were run over by the tanks and were killed. Another young woman, a friend of mine, was hit in the head by one of the incoming tear gas canisters. The police were shooting them straight into the crowd.  After a three hour operation she is still in Intensive Care Unit and in  very critical condition. As I write this we don’t know if she is going to make it. This blog is dedicated to her.

These people are my friends. They are my students, my relatives. They have no «hidden agenda» as the state likes to say. Their agenda is out there. It is very clear. The whole country is being sold to corporations by the government, for the construction of malls, luxury condominiums, freeways, dams and nuclear plants. The government is looking for (and creating when necessary) any excuse to attack Syria against its people’s will.

On top of all that, the government control over its people’s personal lives has become unbearable as of late. The state, under its conservative agenda passed many laws and regulations concerning abortion, cesarean birth, sale and use of alcohol and even the color of lipstick worn by the airline stewardesses.

People who are marching to the center of Istanbul are demanding their right to live freely and receive justice, protection and respect from the State. They demand to be involved in the decision-making processes about the city they live in.

What they have received instead is excessive force and enormous amounts of tear gas shot straight into their faces. Three people lost their eyes.

Yet they still march. Hundred of thousands join them. Couple of more thousand passed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to support the people of Taksim.

No newspaper or TV channel was there to report the events. They were busy with broadcasting news about Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.

Police kept chasing people and spraying them with pepper spray to an extent that stray dogs and cats were poisoned and died by it.

Schools, hospitals and even 5 star hotels around Taksim Square opened their doors to the injured. Doctors filled the classrooms and hotel rooms to provide first aid. Some police officers refused to spray innocent people with tear gas and quit their jobs. Around the square they placed jammers to prevent internet connection and 3g networks were blocked. Residents and businesses in the area provided free wireless network for the people on the streets. Restaurants offered food and water for free.

People in Ankara and İzmir gathered on the streets to support the resistance in Istanbul.

Mainstream media kept showing Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.

***

I am writing this letter so that you know what is going on in Istanbul. Mass media will not tell you any of this. Not in my country at least. Please post as many as articles as you see on the Internet and spread the word.

As I was posting articles that explained what is happening in Istanbul on my Facebook page last night someone asked me the following question:

«What are you hoping to gain by complaining about our country to foreigners?»

This blog is my answer to her.

By so called «complaining» about my country I am hoping to gain:

Freedom of expression and speech,

Respect for human rights,

Control over the decisions I make concerning my on my body,

The right to legally congregate in any part of the city without being considered a terrorist.

But most of all by spreading the word to you, my friends who live in other parts of the world, I am hoping to get your awareness, support and help!

Please spread the word and share this blog.

Thank you!

For futher info and things you can do for help please see Amnesty International’s Call for Urgent Help

Görsel

Taken from Occupy Gezi Facebook page. Also used by Reuters

What more can you say but ‘Damn their eyes!’

13 thoughts on “Solidarity!

  1. While the fight is far from over, the withdrawal of the police from Taksim was a big victory. Today, we heard from one of our ‘foreign correspondents’ in the city that young people are helping the trash collectors clean up Taksim and adjacent neighborhoods. Now that’s how to win over more working people to the cause.

    1. . . in my opinion the withdrawal, which was ‘ordered’ by Gül, was tactical – un-winnable without massive loss of life. The Resistance has found ways to get the video out bypassing the media blackout. Battles continue to rage in the streets and districts and is becoming uglier as more are killed and injured. After one of the TOMA water cannons killed a young man by ramming through a barricade the people brought up their heavy weapon – a huge digging machine which scattered the police armour in a state of panic. Police units in the narrow streets are powerful but their vehicles and police stations are vulnerable and are being trashed all over.
      The people clearing up after each night’s battle is a wonderful bit of public relations globally and demonstrates the love that Turks have for their country.
      Alan recently posted..A Day On A Bear MountainMy Profile

  2. I really hope the Government listen. I fear they won’t. I’ve just watched a video of riot police in Bodrum overwhelming a relatively small protest – a complete over-reaction. From what I’m hearing the shopping mall development (important as it is) is the proverbial straw and ordinary people are saying enough is enough.
    Jack Scott recently posted..Carry On DoctorMy Profile

    1. . . you are right – the list of grievances is long and complex – RTE has been on the road to isolation within the AKP, but they can find no replacement. He is surrounded (in the main) by sycophants and incompetents and his ego blinds him. I think the AKP will ditch him and carry on with moderates having more influence. Their is no effective political opposition so, if all else fails, watch out for the colonels this time around and continued repression!
      Alan recently posted..CornucopiaMy Profile

  3. Thank you for sharing this Alan. Every since I read your post, I have been following everything that is happening in Istanbul on twitter and in blogs. It is so important that people are fighting for their trees and their basic rights and we should all give them our support. I read an interesting quote from a Turkish poet today that read something along the lines of “you knock down a tree and you will knock down democracy.” (I am surely getting it wrong now, but it was beautiful). My 18-year-old son is leaving in a month on a back-packing trip around Europe with friends and can’t wait to get to Istanbul and join in the Occupy Gezi effort. I am not so keen on him getting mixed up with Turkish police, but I am glad that he shares with me a sense of solidarity with the protesters in Istanbul. Please post more news when you have it.
    Trisha Thomas recently posted..Enlightened at the Economics Festival in TrentoMy Profile

    1. Hi Trish! Taksim is presently occupied and totally controlled by the people – all roads leading to it (it sits on a hill) are blocked with barricades 2mts high. It is a place for orchestras, musicians, poets and people – for now! President Gül has called off the police to try and ease the tension/defuse the situation, perhaps hoping that the protests will die down – they are not and the numbers are growing. If there is no negotiated settlement/backdown then at some point the police, who are still atticking the people elsewhere, will likely try to move in. It will now take bulldozers to get through the barricades. I admire your sons solidarity with the people of Turkey – there are now many with children and babies in Taksim, but if the police attack they will take no account of that – you know their reputation for thuggery and there is plenty of evidence on line. Who knows what the situation will be in a months time – one thing is for sure those opposed to this autocracy are not in the mood to back down – the Turkish lion has risen up and it is a fearless beast when aroused!
      Alan recently posted..A Day On A Bear MountainMy Profile

  4. as a two times coup survivor, i have never witness that much crowd in turkey.
    in late 70’s we were on the streets, hundred thousands were on the streets but not like this.
    i am very happy, only thing that i am sad about i am not part of it.
    we have to get ride him and his government, there is no another way.

    1. my dearest friend I realise that what we are seeing in your beloved country is a revolution of the psyche – here we have the tyranny of the majority and, as democrats we should never forget this. A majority! It is up to you and me and all the others out there to articulate the alternative and convince the people of the viability of our alternative vision. If AKP/Erdogan prevails then it is our failure – it is a failure of our intellectual argument and not theirs. The troops are out on the streets winning victory after victory but without they know what they want (as opposed to what they don’t want) the war is lost. Where is the leadership of the alternative? I could go on and on but I need mt interlocutor sitting opposite me. Our country needs all of us!
      Alan recently posted..A Day On A Bear MountainMy Profile

    2. . . ‘democracy’ is a messy thing and is seldom democratic. The opposition parties are fractured and self-serving, the government has 52% of the popular vote. The bedrock of their support comes from the rural population and the recently rural and now urbanised. That does not give them the right to impose their conservative moralistic views on others – that is what Marx called the ‘tyranny of the majority’. That said, the way forward has to be via the ballot box – as long as the elected government respects the rights of all its citizens. The scale of the uprising has come as a shock to the elites – it may well force an end to RTE through an internal party coup, but then what? I don’t believe this party has the answers, but this is an interesting and well thought out statement http://p.feedblitz.com/r.asp?l=60632082&f=17475&u=25143092&c=4600287
      Alan recently posted..Absolutely Fabulous!My Profile

  5. Many thanks Alan, your voice is from the heart, and as if this is your native land, not the adopted one, so very much appreciate it. I love reading how you fondly talk about this beautiful land and its people, it always touches my heart and brings a great dose of home to me. I truly hope for better days for humanity, a dignified way of life for all the folks at home, that is what they deserve. There is a Turkish saying that i love – “umidim olsun yeter” which means, “as long as I have hope..” and I do.
    Ozlem’s Turkish Table recently posted..Hearts Beating Fast for Turkey & Semolina Halva with Pine Nuts for the Home FeelMy Profile

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