Dear my friends,
As you might have been seeing on a few international news broadcast agencies but also heavily on social media for the last a couple of days, there are some unacceptable incidents happening back in my country Turkey at the moment.
I thought that it would be better to write about this not only because I see myself responsible to do so as a Turkish person who lives abroad and has lots of non-Turkish speaking friends but also because I just wanted to.
Let me give you a brief and objective (as much as I can) background about what these incidents are and why they had started and maybe more importantly why now.
A couple of months ago, government in Turkey had put a reconstruction plan for Taksim Square in Istanbul. This plan has been including pedestrianization of the square and also constructing a leisure and cultural building and a shopping mall in this area. Reconstruction has started a while ago. Last week Gezi Park, which was the part of the plan, has been started to be demolished and authorities wanted to remove the trees. However some activists have claimed that no any green area/trees should be demolished especially in a city like Istanbul where there is not that much of it. Then, they held a meeting at Gezi Park to raise their voice and stop this demolish. Police force was present during the meeting and they have started to use water cannons and tear gas against to activists. This has lasted for two days. Meanwhile people were gathering on social media and trying to find the ways to support the activists and stop the police using water cannons and tear gas. Then, they decided to join these people by being with them at Gezi Park. This has also been spread not only to other cities in Turkey but also across to the world. Government who has the control of police force didn’t withdraw their decision that using water cannons and tear gas and continued to use even more of these against the people who are now thousands.
It’s not a matter of a couple of trees anymore. Yes, it all started by defending the park but Gezi Park seems like just a symbol at the moment. I do believe at least half of the people who are at meetings and rallies have never been to Gezi Park before or even they might have had no idea where exactly it is. But as I said, it is not the point anymore. The point is that people are fed up with the current ruling party (Islamic conservative party), its recent laws (alcohol ban), the prime minister and especially their recent excessive use of force against these people who have started to hold peaceful meeting. Holding meeting and demonstration is one of the main rights of citizens which is also preserved by the law:
Literal translation: “Everyone has the right to hold unarmed and peaceful meetings and demonstration marches without prior permission.”
As I mentioned, people are just fed up! They are simply saying “Enough is enough!”. For the last a couple of years, people in my country have lost their trust to government, authorities, justice and they are afraid of losing their jobs if they gave any statement against to government and ruling party and more importantly they are sick off having an one-man show of pm who is being stated as a “dictator”. It is not too difficult to find many examples of his speeches in which he mostly says “I, me” or “I gave orders to my ministers” and so on.
Some still claims that current pm is a great leader however they need to make sure that there are lots of crystal clear differences between being a dictator and a leader. To me, one of these explains all the rests: “Leader is someone who others choose to follow his vision, strategy and views whereas dictator is someone who sets the rules by himself/herself and obliges the others to obey these by using unacceptable and undemocratic forces.”
One of the great examples of being afraid can also easily be seen among Turkish mainstream media platforms nowadays. As I mentioned above, even though in many cities around Turkey people are marching, are wounded and police is using excessive use of force by using tear gas, almost all the TV channels and newspapers in Turkey were not brave enough to broadcast or write about these since they just simply are afraid. Official CNN correspondent in Istanbul has mentioned at his speech that “Imagine that there is a war happening in Times Square and there’s no news broadcast about this. This is what’s happening in Turkey.”
Well.. There might be one point you may consider and want to ask to me: Why on earth we, Turkish citizens have elected this party then. Fair enough. However a couple of things need to be taken in consideration:
- In democratic countries, elected people shouldn’t be seeing themselves as they represent only the people who elected them. In fact, it is their main duty to maintain all the different voices being listened even from the people who didn’t give vote for them.
- Being elected via a democratic way doesn’t mean it’s done, that’s all and they should stop listening people afterwards and act like one-man show. They shouldn’t be saying that they do not need to ask to people anything till the next election and make referendums anymore by just simply referring to the previous election results.
- Most of the people who voted for the current ruling party and pm were the ones who can easily be hypnotized by religion, Islam which the ruling party knows and uses it a lot. Actually, this is not a new news. This has been historically same in Turkey. When we look at these people (inc my parents), we can see that they can forget or ignore about any other things if religion is the case. Please do not get me wrong but it is seen obviously that most of these people are also less educated, do not have the chance to use internet regularly and do not read due to their poor economical situation.
WHO ARE THEY?
They are just ordinary people. Of course, they might be members of different political parties, of course they might be supporters of various ideologies, of course they might be supporters of sports clubs, and so on. However believe me, they are just there without above titles or relations. Actually, they have been trying to avoid any opposition party or ideology to get involved to this with their party flags, etc in order not to tie this civil-originated activism with any politics or something.
They are just ordinary people: students, professionals, workers, actors/actresses, academicians; kids, adults, elder people; woman, men, etc. No matter what they are supporting or what their ideologies are.
They are just ordinary people who try to defend their rights within the context of given laws..
People, shop owners, brands are just united. Some have claimed that protesters have been damaging all the shops within the protesting areas. However we have seen many cases that these shop owners (including international coffee chains, hotels, agencies, etc.) have tried to help the protesters who were affected by tear gas by opening their shops to them to give them a safe place where they can get medical treatment.
In my opinion, current government and pm have made a mistake by ordering police to use tear gas against the protesters instead of trying to solve the issue by negotiation. And even worse, they continued to use more force whilst the number of protests have increased and the protests have been spread to other places and cities. If they had chosen the negotiation way, the things would have never been like this.
Please show your support by posting pictures on your Facebook account and tweeting about it on Twitter.
Find pictures on: http://occupygezipics.tumblr.com/
Search these on Twitter:
- #direngeziparki: https://twitter.com/search?q=direngeziparki&src=tyah
- #direnizmir: https://twitter.com/search?q=direnizmir&src=typd
- #direnankara: https://twitter.com/search?q=direnankara&src=rela
- #occupygezi: https://twitter.com/search?q=occupygezi&src=tyah
- #occupyistanbul: https://twitter.com/search?q=occupy%20istanbul&src=tyah
May these incidents finish soon.
PS: Apologies for any grammar mistakes or typos I have done in this note as I have written it very quickly.