COME ON NEIGHBOR, PLEASE WAKE UP!

Translated and edited  by Elif Özizmir, Can Jarna Öztürk, Çağlayan Erendağ and Lale İnceoğlu.

Görsel

Good morning Neighbor,

Never mind my “good morning”, I write these lines to you at daybreak, after a sleepless night. You know me, we’ve been living in this building for so many years. I am the quiet type, not many people come to visit me. I go to bed early and wake up even before the morning prayers. Yet, last night I didn’t sleep a wink. You slept soundly instead of me, dear neighbor. I know you did because I was out at the balcony so many times, banging pots and pans as my husband was turning the lights on and off… we tried everything to draw your attention.

You slept on, neighbor.

While we sat with our hands on the door knob, our hearts racing like mad, our eyes sore, you slept on. I am not angry with you. If I had relied on that box called television to find out about what’s going on in the world, in my country or even on the next street, I would also go to bed peacefully and sleep after having watched the evening news.

After all what was it they announced on TV? Gezi Park had been evacuated. And it was done with utter ease. Without causing any harm. “Our people started leaving the park on time, due to the announcements made half an hour in advance. The marginal, illegal terrorist groups who stayed behind were treated with pepper spray and water cannons.” On top of it our Mayor has made a speech, explaining that no harm was done to the people, children, Gezi Park was evacuated, the public workers were taking down the tents. We should be at peace. This story has come to an end.

You must have had a sigh of relief neighbor. I would have if I were you. I’m sure you were feeling anxious that while the marginal groups were targeted, innocent kids could have been harmed. Innocent ones must have left the park when the police told them to evacuate it. The rest who stayed have different agendas anyway…

Neighbor, let me tell you now my own version of what happened. I’ve lived in this building all my life, you know me. I hope you will believe me or at least listen to what I have to say.

I was also there at Gezi Park with my husband last night.   You know my husband, you see him everyday. He has a walking disability. He uses a wheelchair.  We’d gone to the park together. It was a little after seven and the park was really crowded. Children, parents, other people like us who’d come with their wheelchairs…A balmy summer’s night; music playing, people dancing, kids lying on the ground painting, all sorts of vendors selling food. Being the first Saturday of the summer holiday everyone was relaxed, cheerful and full of hope…The park was like a fairground.

My husband and I crossed the whole park and reached Taksim square. Again there was music and people were doing a circle dance, there.  The cops were lined up in front of AKM, smoking cigarettes while watching the square. We posed for photos in front of them, making a victory sign.

It was exactly 8.15 p.m, I know for sure, because my phone shows the time on each shot. We decided it was time to head home. While we strolled up and down the park one last time, I ran across my students who were staying there, day in day out. Surely, you know my students, they’re the ones who always come and go to my place. They speak in low tones, kind young women with bright eyes. Got it, right? Yes, exactly. It was them who set up their tents in the park, it was them who had been patiently expecting respect for their rights to defend and protect a couple of trees, patiently waiting the authorities to hear their voices demanding the right to life, throwing back all kinds of slander coming their way, after transforming them into subtle humor… We were chatting with them. They had planted a little orchard at Gezi Park. In two weeks they had planted flowers, vegetables. On Tuesday night when TOMA’s threw water cannons into the park, apparently the orchard was all over the place. They put it back together in two days. They had built a library too. Tuesday night all of them were soaking wet. So some people brought in new books. My mom too donated books. You know my mom too, she lives in our building, the retired professor. On Friday evening, went to the park together. She had some student too, staying in their tents at the park. They had also remarked proudly how the library was rebuilt.

Long story short, neighbor, when you oppress hope at one end, it flourishes form another, just like weed.

Görsel

As we were chatting away, a guy said to another, “they say there will be an intervention”. W e all laughed neighbor. We laughed because even the harshest dictator in the world would not plan an intervention to that park, not that particular evening.  There were pregnant women, proud dads holding their children sitting on their shoulders. A blue-eyed granddad just said to me, “how would he ever hit me,”. We carried on talking. The music played on.

Nobody heard any announcements neighbor, just as nobody left the park. The moment the tear gas hit them, they were in the middle of their bites, their words, their dancing. We had parked our car right in front of Divan Hotel, people gave us a hand, I hurried to the car folding my husbands wheelchair into the trunk, as I sped away, I could see Taksim Square from my rear view window, under clouds of gas and dust.

We made it home. TV channels were talking about demonstrators fleeing towards Harbiye. And you were watching neighbor. I’m guessing, there must have been more than 10,000 people in the park. They had no choice but retreat towards the Divan Hotel after being tear-gassed, just like we just had. Then the Mayor appeared on the silver screen. “ Our people had left the park in accordance with our announcements, prior to the intervention and some marginal groups staying behind have clashed with the police” he said. My neighbor, I was there when the first tear gas was thrown, so was my husband, so were all those people.

It was when mothers, fathers, children fleeing to the streets in panic from acidy waters of TOMA’s and tear gases that the park was evacuated. Hundreds were wounded. Your much trusted TV channel, the one that you had been watching announced that only 29 were wounded, and that with only minor scratches. My friends who took refuge at the Divan sent photos of their burnt skins on their arms, necks. The announcements we received were asking to direct all the wounded and the children to Divan Hotel. So we spread the news. People asked for oxygen tanks, needles and threads to saw up the wounds. As I was searching for pharmacies on night duty on my computer, my husband was shrieking from his computer, “ the police have thrown pepper gas into Divan Hotel”. I did not believe, did not want to believe this. Uğru Dundar was broadcasting from the new TV channel “ +1”. Then that too was interrupted. Meanwhile, photos of my friends stranded at the Divan started coming in. Neighbor, I hate to bother you, but I am afraid no one will tell you, if I don’t. I have no intention of defending a cause in this lifetime. All I care about is the right for everyone to live in personal dignity. Anyway, let me cut it short, some photos of children started coming in from the Divan. Fainted, trying hard to breathe under an oxygen mask.  I recognized one. He was sitting on his father’s shoulders, in the park. A baby with curly hair, just about two or three years old… He is crying as his dad holds him in his arms. At the background some very young people are spread out on a sofa, fainted, they were not even born when we were banging on pots and pans for “Susurluk”.

***

And the night went on, neighbor. While all the televisions showed a wet and empty Taksim square, my facebook friends rushed out of their homes and headed to Taksim in big groups. I guess meanwhile you got bored and went to sleep, because there was nothing new on TV.  Sıraselviler Street, Istiklal Street, Cumhuriyet street all started to get packed. People from Bagdat Street met at Kadıkoy and walked  . towards the Bosphorus Bridge. Thousands of people from Gazi neighbourhood rushed to the Tem motorway…Ankara, was exactly the same; people spread all over the streets. I have a cousin in Ankara. She is the one I get all the news from . Who else do we have but each other to trust?…I have an aunt in Ankara. She is 97 years old. You also know her, neighbor. She used to live with us in the past. She was quiet, calm and graceful. Do you remember? Yes neighbor, that old lady. She didn’t let her age stop her. She’s also been in Kugulu Park at 7pm every night for two weeks.

While the night was asleep in all it’s darkness, something very weird happened, neighbor. Police attacked the Hilton Hotel.  Yes I am talking about that Hilton Hotel! There were friends there who just crouched down and were trying to breath. Many people were injured. All the medicines were put on a table in the middle of the lobby and the first thing the police did was to take the medicines away. Then we heard that they drove into the German Hospital with a TOMA tank and sprayed chemical water into the hospital. It is also rumoured that they went down to the emergency floor to arrest the injured people.

Neighbour, do you hear? There are people screaming downstairs. Go to the window and have a look. All these people are the people that you know. The grocery guy is clapping. Retired old people are beating pan and pots. There is nobody marginal, outside. It’s all just “us” neighbor. Nobody else…

Come on, please wake up!

Special thanks to Elif Chandra, Can Jarna, Lale and Çağlayan for their light-speed translation and for the editing!

Görsel

Ne olur uyan Komşu!

REUTERS
REUTERS

Komşu Günaydın,

Günaydın dediğime bakma, ben uyumadan geçirdiğim bir sabahın ilk ışıklarında yazıyorum sana bu satırları. Beni tanıyorsun yıllardır aynı binada yaşıyoruz. Sesim soluğum çıkmaz, evime pek gelen giden de bulunmaz. Erkenden yatar, sabah ezanından önce uyanırım. Dün gece uyumadım ama. Benim yerime sen uyudun komşu. Uyudun, biliyorum çünkü defalarca balkona çıktım elimde tencere tava ile. Eşim içeride ışıkları yaktı söndürdü, dikkatini çekmek için çıkarmadığımız patırtı kalmadı.

Sen uyumayı sürdürdün komşu.

Biz kimbilir saniyede kaç hızla çarpan yüreklerimiz ağzımızda, gözlerimiz çakmak çakmak, elimiz kapı tokmağında otururken sen uyudun. Sana kızmıyorum. Dünyadan, ülkemden ve hatta iki sokak ötede olan bitenden haber almak için televizyon denen o kutuya teslim etmiş olsaydım kendimi, ben de senin gibi akşam bülteninin ardından girer yatağıma içim rahat, gönlüm ferah tatlı bir uykuya dalardım.

Ne de olsa ne dedi televizyonlar? Gezi Parkı boşaltıldı. Hem de nasıl? Kolaylıkla. Kimseye zarar gelmeden. “Halkımız yarım saat önceden başlayan uyarılar sayesinde parkı vakitlice boşalttı, geriye kalan marjinal-illegal-terörist gruplara polis biber gazı ve tazyikli su ile müdahale etti.” Üstüne valimiz de çıktı konuştu, halka, çocuklara zarar gelmemiş, Gezi Parkı boşaltılmış, belediye ekipleri çadırları söküyorlarmış. İçimiz rahat etsin. Bu hikaye de böyle bitmiş işte.

Derin bir soluk almışsındır herhalde komşu. Ben senin yerinde olsam alırdım. Marjinal grup avı sırasında masum çocuklara zarar gelecek diye kalbin pır pır ediyordu eminim. Masum çocuklar polis parkı boşaltın deyice çıkmışlardır parktan. Geri kalanların derdi başka zaten…

Komşu bak şimdi sana ne olduğunu bir de ben anlatayım. Çocukluğumdan beri bu binada oturuyorum, beni tanıyorsun. Sözüme inanacağını, en azından beni dinleyeceğini umuyorum.

Biz de eşimle dün akşam Gezi Parkı’ndaydık. Eşimi de tanıyorsun, görüyorsun en azından her gün. Kendisi yürüme engelli. Tekerlekli sandalye kullanıyor. Beraber parka gitmiştik. Yediyi biraz geçiyordu saat ve çok kalabalıktı park. Çoluk, çocuk, analar, babalar, bizim gibi tekerlekli sandalyesi ile parka gelmiş başka engelliler… Tatlı bir ilk yaz gecesi. Müzik çalıyor, dans ediliyor, halay çekiliyor, çocuklar yerlere yayılmış resimler çiziyor. Seyyar arabalarda pişen köfte kokuları havaya karışmış, pamuk helva, simitiçi, kuruyemişci ortalıkta dolanıyor. Malum, tatilin ilk cumartesisi. Herkes rahat, neşeli ve umut dolu…Panayır yeri gibiydi park.

Biz eşimle parkı baştan başa geçip Taksim meydanına vardık. Orada da müzik çalıyor, bir grup halay çekiyordu. Polisler AKM’nin önüne dizilmiş meydanı izleyerek sigara içiyorlardı. Önlerinde fotoğraf çektirdik, parmaklarımız zafer şeklinde.

Riot police enter Gezi Park at Taksim Square in Istanbul

Saat 8:15 idi, biliyorum çünkü çektiğimiz fotoğrafın saatini telefonum gösteriyor. Yavaş yavaş dönelim evimize dedik. Parkı baştan sonra bir daha katederken, ağaçlar yerlerinde sökülmesin diye orada nöbet tutan  öğrencilerimi gördüm. Sen komşu, benim öğrencileri de bilirsin, hep gelip giderler benim eve. Asansörde raslamışlığın vardır onlara. Alçak sesle konuşan, kibar, parlak gözlü genç kadınlar. Bildin mi? Hah işte onlardı parka çadır kurmuş, ilk günden beri üç beş ağacı koruma isteklerine saygı duyulmasını, onurlu ve özgür bir yaşamı savunan seslerinin duyulmasını sabırla bekleyen, üzerlerine atılan her iftirayı bir şakaya dönüştürüp geri sallayanlar…Onlarla çene çalıyorduk. Bostan kurmuşlar, ismine “Gezi Βostanı” demişler. İki haftada çiçekler, sebzeler dikmişler. Salı gecesi TOMAlar parka dışarıdan su sıkarken darmadağın olmuş bostan. Iki günde toparlamış, yeni çiçekler ekmişler. Kütüphane kurmuşlardı, bayağı da iyi de kitaplar vardı. Salı gecesi bütün kitaplar da sırılsıklam olmuş. Yeni kitaplar getirmiş birileri. Annem de kütüphaneye kitap bağışlamış. Annemi de bilirsin, o da bizim binada yaşıyor,  emekli profesör. Cuma gecesi de onunla gitmiştik parka. Onun da öğrencileri var parka kurdukları çadılarda kalan. Onlar da gururla söylemişlerdi. Kütüphane yeniden kurulmuş.

Anlayacağın komşu, umutu bir yerden eziyorsun, öbür taraftan yine baş veriyor. Yabani ot gibi bir şey.

Biz orada sohbet ederken ederken «müdahale olacakmış» dedi birisi diğerine. Biz hepimiz güldük komşu. Güldük çünkü dünyanın en sert diktatörü de olsa o akşam o parka müdahale etmezdi. Hamile kadınlar vardı, omuzlarına çocuklarını oturtmuş gururlu babalar vardı. Çakır gözlü yaşlı bir amca “bana nasıl vurur ya” diye söylendi sadece. Biz sohbete devam ettik. Müzik devam etti.

Kimse anons filan duymadığı gibi komşu, inan ki kimse parkı terk etmedi. Gazı yedikleri anda bu saydığım herkes orada, lafının, lokmasının, halayının tam ortasındaydı. Biz Divan otelinin önüne arabamızı bırakmıştık, etraftan yardım ettiler eşimi, tekerlekli sandalyesini acele yükledim. Gaza basarken dikiz aynasından Taksim meydanını gördüm, gaz ve toz bulutu altındaydı.

Eve geldik, televizyonlar Harbiye tarafına kaçan eylemcilerden bahsediyorlardı. Sen seyrediyordun komşu. Parkın içinde onbinden fazla insan vardı tahminim. Meydandan üzerlerine atılan göz yaşartıcı bombadan kaçmak için parkın arkasına, aynı bizim yaptığımız gibi Divan oteline doğru gerilemekten başka yolları yoktu. Vali çıktı sonra ekranlara, “Halkımız yapılan anonslar doğrultusunda parkı müdahaleden önce boşaltmıştır, geride kalan marjinal gruplarla polis çatışmaya girmiştir» dedi. Komşu, ilk gaz bombası atıldığında ben oradaydım, eşim de oradaydı. Bütün halk da oradaydı. Parkı TOMA’ların cilti cayır cayır yakan asitli suyundan ve göz yaşartıcı bombalardan kaçan analar, babalar, çocuklar panikle kendilerini sokağa atınca boşaldı.

Yüzlerce insan yaralandı. Senin karşısında oturduğun televizyonun güvendiğin kanalları sadece yirmidokuz kişinin hafif sıyrıklarla yaralandığını söyledi. Divan oteline sığınan arkadaşlarım kendi kollarının, enselerinin fotoğraflarını yayınladılar. Bütün çocukları ve yaralıları Divan oteline sevk edin diye duyuru yaptılar. Biz de yaydık duyuruları. Acil oksiyen tüpü ve dikiş atmak üzere iplik, iğne istedi insanlar. Ben civardaki nöbetçi eczanelerin yerlerini tesbit etmeye çalışırken eşim kendi bilgisayarının başından hayrkırdı. «polis Divan’a da biber gazı attı» diye.  İnanmadım. İnanmak istemedim. Uğur Dündar Kanal +’dan yayın yapıyordu. O sırada o da kesildi. Derken Divan’ın içinde mahsur kalan arkadaşlarımdan resimler gelmeye başladı. Komşu, içini sıkmak istemiyorum ama benden duymazsan kimseden duymazsın diye korkuyorum. Bir davayı savunmak gibi bir derdim yok.  Her insanın haysiyeti ile yaşama hakkına sahip olmasından başka bir davam da yoktur bu hayatta. Neyse uzatmayayım, çocukların resimleri geldi Divan otelinden. Bayılmış, oksijen maskesi ile zar zor nefes alan. Bir tanesini tanıdım. Babasının omuzlarında oturuyordu parkta dolaşırken. Kıvırcık saçlı iki üç yaşlarında bir bebek. Babası kucağına almış, ağlıyor fotoğrafta. Arkada kanepede bayılmış yatan gençler var, biz Susurluk için tencere tava çalarken daha doğmamış olan.


Gece devam etti komşu. Televizyonlar boşaltılmış, ıslak ve karanlık bir Taksim meydanı gösterirlerken, Facebook arkadaşlarım onar yirmişer evlerinden fırlayıp Taksim’e doğru yol almaya başladılar. Sen sıkıldın yattın herhalde o arada. Televizyonlarda yeni bir şey yoktu çünkü. Sıra Selviler Caddesi, İstiklal Caddesi, Cumhuriyet Caddesi hınca hınç doldu. Bağdat Caddesinden yürüyenler Kadıköy’de buluşup köprüye yürüdüler. Gazi Mahallesinden çıkan binlerce insan TEM otoyoluna aktı. Al bir bu kadarını bir de Ankara’ya koy. Binlerce Ankaralı sokaklara taştı. Kuzenim var Ankara’da, ondan alıyorum haberi tabii, kimimiz kaldı başka güvenebileceğimiz birbirimizden başka? 97 yaşında bir yengem vardır benim Ankara’da. Onu da tanırsın komşu, eskiden bizimle bu binada yaşardı. Sessiz sakin kibar mı kibar yengem. Bildin değil mi? Hah işte o da yaşına başına bakmadan, geçen iki hafta boyunca her akşam 7’de Kuğulu Park’a gitmiş, sesini duyurabilmek için.

Komşu gecenin karanlığını üzerin çekmiş uyurken inanır mısın polis Hilton Oteli’ni bastı. Koskoca Hilton’a daldılar. Oraya kapağı zor atmış, nefes almaya çalışan arkadaşlarım vardı. Yaralılar vardı. Lobinin oradaki orta masaya ilaçları yığmışlar, polis içeri dalınca ilk önce o ilaçları toplamış. Sonra duyduk Alman hastanesine TOMA ile girip su sıkmışlar. Hastanenin acil servisine bile indikleri bile söyleniyor yaralıları tutuklamak için.

Komşu, duyuyor musun aşağıda sokakta insanlar bağırıyor. Pencereye çık da bak, hep mahallenin tanıdığın simaları. Manav da alkış tutmuş, emekli amcalar da balkonlarında tence tavalarına vuruyorlar. Marjinal kimseler yok dışarıda. Sen, ben varız komşu.

Hadi ne olur uyan!
gezi 10

What is Happenning in Istanbul?

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 at the time of my writing 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.

Last week of May 2013 a group of people most of whom 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 yoga 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 of May 31st 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 continued sitting in the park. The riot police set fire to the demonstrators’ tents and attacked them with pressurized water, pepper and tear gas during a night raid. Two young people were run over by the vehicles 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 Turkish 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. Hundreds and thousands of citizens from all walks of life then joined them to support for the protestors. Couple of more thousand passed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to support the people of Taksim. They were met with more water cannons and more pepper spray, more hostility. Four people died, thousands of people were injured.

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. Demonstations spread to other cities where citizens were faced more brutality and hostiliy from police. Hundred of thousands kept joining.

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.

I do not belong to a political party. I don’t believe in politics. I don’t defend any ideology and I am not on the side of any regime. Like many others in Turkey I am tired and frustrated from the polarization between Kemalist seculars and the Islamists. I don’t belong to any of them. I believe in moving away from polarization and towards a new way of relating. I know many people who are out on the streets of Istanbul share the way I think and I know we are not the only ones. We just want to live our lives with human dignity.

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