3 Haziran 2013 Pazartesi

What's going on in Turkey?

The initial Istanbul protests were led by about 50 environmentalists against replacing Taksim Gezi Park with a reconstruction of the historic Taksim Military Barracks (demolished in 1940), with the possibility of housing a shopping mall. The protests developed into riots when a group occupying the park was attacked by police. The subjects of the protests have since broadened beyond the development of Taksim Gezi Park, developing into wider anti-government demonstrations. The protests have also spread to other cities in Turkey, and protests have been seen in other countries with significant Turkish communities. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a number of speeches widely seen as inflammatory and dismissive of the protestors, and on 3 June left the country on a planned 3-day diplomatic tour of North African countries. Protesters took to Taksim Square in Istanbul and to streets in Ankara as well as Bursa, Antalya, Eskisehir, Izmir, Edirne, Mersin, Adana, Izmit, Konya, Samsun, Antakya, Trabzon, Rize (the capital of the province where Erdogan's family is from), Isparta, Tekirdağ, Bodrum, and Mardin. Some of the protesters have styled themselves as #OccupyGezi. The range of the protesters was noted as being broad, encompassing both right and left-wing individuals as well as nationalist Turks, Kurds, Armenians and Greeks. The protesters' complaints ranged from the original local environmental concerns to such issues as authoritarianism of Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, curbs on alcohol, a recent row about kissing in public, and the war in Syria. Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas stated that the environmental campaign had been manipulated by "political agendas". According to various news outlets, the clashes are one of the most challenging events for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ten-year rule. By nature, it seems exhausted.
Foreign media noted that the protests had attracted relatively little mainstream media coverage in Turkey and speculated that this may be due to government pressure. Few channels provided live coverage – one that did was Halk TV. As a result, social media played a key role in keeping people informed, with the Twitter hashtags #OccupyGezi and #DirenGeziParki ("Resist Gezi Park") being adopted.

On the comment side, this now seems more like a massive civil disobedience, an unavoidable one.
It can with no exaggeration be defined a spontaneous movement from all parts of society. Started with pangs of conscience just like in Hrank Dink’s funeral several years ago, where hundreds of thousands of people gathered with no special organization behind. Some of us, who were ignorant of the troubles of ethnic minorities, had just left their home and wished to pay a belated respect to him. This too started as a peaceful and hopeful movement.

Then it turned into oppressed reaction and protest against an authoritarian government, who, for years, almost changed the daily discourse of all Turkish citizens attitude towards each other with PM’s intolerance, money/profit-oriented approach of life; manipulation of religious faith and the “unknown”, swearing and cursing someone in every opportunity...
This movement’s contagiousness should not be confused with Arab spring … This is not Turkish spring. There is only one spring here, with the other meaning of the term: Source… the source is people, it is their moral source, all demonstration is the offspring of the repressed but respectful protests.

Think about this; people in Ankara stopped their demonstration during the ezan-religious prayer from the microphones of the mosques. It means reverence, it means common sense.
At this point all so called marginal groups—except the one(s) that uncompromisingly support the government—try to own the movement. Yet it is so clear that the owner of it is people on the street: Imagine this: Yesterday these groups paraded before demonstrators to be acclaimed and recognized!

And, yes we do recognize the ignored or sidestepped parts. Communists, nationalists, students, taxi drivers, restaurant owners, housewives, retired people, doctors, architects and chambers of them or subaltern groups such as  lesbians, homosexuals: we clapped them all when they took part in it, Because  we –without a written contract—sense that we were yearning for an integrated society, tolerance, respect, modesty. People rediscovered the long lost voice of their part of the brain that is responsible for “humanity” and “humanitarian causes.” Even the stray dogs and cats in the streets were spotted and people wiped their faces off the pepper gas and protected them against any possible harm.
Now, the risk before us seems that this movement might be undermined by some opportunists…

Not even the main opposition party was allowed to organize a meeting in squares. This is not oriented by one political party and the like. This has gone beyond that.
The purity might be spoiled.

Yet, no exaggeration can express the magnitude of this fact. These were young people who were so far messaging in social media over popular songs and fun videos. Today they are politicized. They became aware of some harsh facts: Some stories may not be covered by media. Some politicians in general, the PM in particular may play deaf and blind against the naked truth.
One might call this a sort of enlightenment, which was unfortunately skipped in Turkish history as most societal changes in Turkey occurred through top-to-bottom processes.

Here are some extraordinary facts:
This is the 3rd day of the enlarged protests. World channels broadcast the situation as the top news and we follow them too.

Note that Turkish people did not ask the Military Forces to handle the situation.
Note that young people who might leave their home with their father’s firearm on the second/third days –as “experienced” protesters who were harshly beaten, pepper-bombed  by the police everywhere—did only put their bags and pockets gas masks and necessary practical medication.

Note that the PM is still employing a provoking tone of voice but people calm each other.
Note that when the PM reduced this massive movement, people resorted to the president of the state and asked him to interfere. People are in search of a legitimate, legal way to resolve.

Note that the protestors also displayed this society’s unique sense of humour and produced incredibly funny posts and slogans to show the oxymoronic situation of PM’s indifference that can make anyone go berserk.
Note that the park under consideration—that witnessed violent clashes, dozens of bombs and conflicts btw the police and the demonstrators—was cleaned by the same protestors the next morning. People were reorganized and  collected the garbage and broken bottles and etc…

Note that today is Monday and we all went to work with 2-3 hrs sleep and now keep on doing our duties only to leave our offices after work hours to keep on protesting the dismissive response to our calls.
Note that this could happen only in responsible, civilized communities who keep considering the possible consequences of their actions and trying to mitigate the potential damage.

This is an exemplary action in all human history. We are more than happy to take part in it.
Young ones feel they have grown up in 3 days. We middle aged ones feel we got younger.

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