So much has happened in Turkey since I wrote to you last.
As I type my heart is pounding and my fingers are rushing on the keyboard to tell you the news. I am in the midst of emotions. I follow the news on social media and from the personal accounts of my friends who are out there in Istanbul and Ankara diligently and persistently working to have their voices heard by the State and the mass media.
Something BIG is happening in Turkey. I feel joy, fear, hope… This is how a revolution must feel. I am so lucky to experience it in my lifetime.
Although I am geographically far from the heart of the resistance, that is Taksim Square in Istanbul, my heart leapt with the crowds when I hear that the police once again entered the Gezi Park and are spraying people with tear gas and pressured water.
Our Prime Minister says that the people in Gezi Park and the protestors in other parts of Turkey who support the Gezi Park Movement are looters, a bunch of vandals and alcoholics. Obviously our PM didn’t go to the Park. Because the people who are resisting in the park are the most well educated, most creative, most open-minded and progressive people of Turkey. They have the wit and humor to turn the Prime Minister’s insults into a tool for identity politics. They are not unlawful citizens as the media broadcasts.
They have the ability to differentiate the common cause from their personal beliefs. The differences between religious, ideological, socio-economic status are put aside in the Park. The common cause has become the most important thing now. They demand recognition and respect as dignified citizens of the country.
Since this morning my heart has been pounding like crazy.
I got on the Internet and saw that police intervention has begun again in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. A group of so-called “protestors” threw a Molotov cocktail at the police and the police responded by weakly pressurized water to the “protestors”. All the mainstream media was there with their live TV equipment ready to broadcast the act of “Gezi Park protestors attacking the police. It was planned by the government and the security forces to provoke the resistance movement. The Molotov cocktail bombs being thrown by plain clothed policemen at other security forces around Gezi Park were explosive and loud.
When the “provocation” started the Occupy Gezi protestors came out of their tents to see what all the noise was.
Then something unexpected happened. The people who make up the Occupy Gezi movement, instead joining the provocation against the police, they remained calm and joined their hands to make a large human circle around the provocateurs. Police remained outside of the circle and the provocateurs were stopped by the real protestors.
Meanwhile the unrest has spread to the whole country. The Prime Minister Erdogan has been arrogantly misinforming the nation about what is actually going on. The State is acting indifferent and completely ignoring the people who are out there. Mass media continues to broadcast Prime Minister Erdogan’s speeches (four or five times a day) where he marginalizes and humiliates the people who are protesting and declares them to be looters, vandals, unethical people who have no respect for religion or the law.
If Turkey has one soft spot, it is religion. If you want to divide the country into two camps all you have to use is religion. Many politicians have been using religion successfully to create polarity and hatred in Turkey. So now, the Prime Minister is telling to the rest of the nation that these people drank beer inside the mosque even though soon after his speech, the Imam of that mosque came out and denied the statement. Then, PM Erdogan said that the ladies who wear headscarves were harassed by the people who protest. Again women in headscarves stood up and denied PM’s statement.
These are known tricks. People from all walks of life are streaming into Taksim Square to demonstrate that they are not buying the lies.
During last 5 days, when there was no police intervention, the park became the home for all kinds of groups in Turkey. People from different religious, ideological and economic backgrounds are camping together in the Park. They are curious about each other and have learned to listen. There were mass yoga classes being taught. There is a free library created. A medial clinic for anybody who needs care. All kinds of volunteers are there. Doctors, teachers, lawyers, writers, artists…
Some political parties and ideological organizations are there in the Park as well, trying to capitalize on and possibly hijack the Gezi Park movement. They hope to appropriate the momentum and energy of the people for their own agendas. Yet what I have seen up to this point is that people will not accept to be reduced and be used as a tool for any exiting ideology.
There is now one organization called Taksim Solidarity, which aims to represent all the people in Gezi Protest movement. They submitted the demands of people in the Gezi Park movement to the state. In their declaration they demanded freedom to use and defend the public spaces without being considered as a threat. There has been no response from the government’s side so far.
As I write you this I am receiving messages, hundreds of messages written by my friends and family that police attacked the Park with pepper sprays, tear gas and water cannons again. So many people are injured and one is having an asthma crisis. Gezi people were going to give a speech to the press today but now they can’t even open their mouth to say a word. The Park is under such a gas cloud that people from Bosporus Bridge (5 km away) can see it. Meanwhile the attorneys at the main courthouse who wanted to defend the Gezi Park Movement and talk to the press have been attacked by the police and fifty of them been arrested and detained. During the arrest of the attorneys a lot of police brutality has been witnessed by everyone around the courthouse.
The brutal attack to the lawyers and their arrest is viewed by the Gezi Park movement people as a clear message, that they have no legal protection and that they should stop resisting in no time. There is not a word from the Prime Minister about the future of the Gezi Park; neither an apology for the disproportionate violence police exercised over people for the last two weeks.
Yet something has changed and there is no going back. I can feel the pulse of the whole nation from here, across from the sea. Gezi People and their supporters all around Turkey need your help and support more than ever. Please keep spreading the word and telling the truth about what is actually going on in Turkey.
This is another struggle between people who believe in power and people who believe in dignity.
I believe dignity will win soon or later.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said:
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.