Turkey: “Today we all are someone new”

from Müştereklerimiz

June 3, 2013

Many words are about to be spent on these four days. Lots of things will be written, and many grandiose political analysis are surely on their way.

But what has really happened these four days?

The resistance for Gezi Park ignited the collective capacity to organize and act between us common citizens. It has been the matter of just a spark…. we saw the very body of the resistance as it walked towards us along the Bosphorus bridge, we saw it endure without fear along Istiklal street; we saw its limbs in each one who, chocked by an excess of teargas, would still struggle to help another; we saw it in the shopkeepers giving us food for free, in residents opening their houses to the wounded, in the volunteering doctors and in the grandmothers banging their pots at windows all night long as a sign of defiance. The police waged a veritable war against us; they ran out of their tear gas stocks, they trapped us in metro stations and shot us with rubber bullets – but they could not break this body. Because the body of the resistance, once on fire, could only go on. And now all of our experiences are part of a collective memory which will run through its veins like lymph, so that we may always remember one simple fact: we can choose our own fate through our own collective action.

We can reclaim our life – and where we want to live it.

The journey which started in Gezi nurtured our strength and courage with its tenacity, creativity, determination, and self-confidence. In no time, the resistance blossomed from Gezi park to Taksim Square, and from Taksim to all Istanbul and then the rest of the country. The struggle for Gezi park became the place where to voice all our rage against anything preventing us from deciding for our own way to live the city. After this display of rage and solidarity nothing will be the same again. No one of us will be the same. Because now we have seen something about ourselves we had never seen before. We did not just see it: we made it together. We saw our own bodies ignite to a spark, and set the body of collective resistance to life. The struggle for Gezi park triggered a youth riot: it assigned a place and a meaning to one or two generations who lived through AKP governments and who equate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with authoritarianism. These are the children of the families evicted from Tarlabaşı in the name of grand gentrification plans, these are the workers who lost their jobs in the name of cutting production costs and privatizing factories. Any struggle to come is now going to be enriched by these generations.

The struggle for Gezi Park and Taksim Square set a new definition of what public space means. Reclaiming Taksim has shattered AKP’s hegemony in deciding what a square is supposed to mean for us citizens, because Taksim is now what the Resistance wants it to mean: our public square. We have seen the resistance that a single spark can ignite, and we know now that we are fully capable of lighting new sparks and new resistances. We can sense our collective might against the dispossession of our commons because we got a taste of what resistance feels like. We shall not step back from where we are now. Because we know that we carry more than one spark, more than one struggle, and that it is only a matter of moments before a single spark turns into a fire.

Müştereklerimiz, or “Our Commons”, is a collective in Istanbul active in the struggle that has blossomed from the occupation of Gezi Park.


3 responses to “Turkey: “Today we all are someone new””

  1. An American student in Turkey Avatar
    An American student in Turkey

    Izmir, Turkey is a city known for its temperate climate and long history as a vacation spot during the Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires. Today, the tourists still find Izmir a lovely destination. However, recently many found themselves smack in the middle of street protests against the Prime Minister Erdogan and his governing party. Protesters fill the jails. After three days of demonstrations, tear gas, water cannon and fires, Izmir like all major cities in Turkey was tense. At night to show solidarity with the protests, people in their apartments flicked their lights on and off. It was amazing to go out on my balcony and see a mass of twinkling lights all as far as I could see.

    Graffiti is on almost every building you see, including on the street pavement.

    People targeted the Starbucks because they supposedly didn’t support the protesters and closed their stores in Istanbul, but let the police enter for shelter and drinks. So once the word got out people went for Starbucks.

    A friend of mine was injured in a demonstration. She won’t be walking for a month due to a broken hip. It was late at night and I didn’t want another friend to go home by herself, so I offered to see her home. I dropped her off and on the way back to my apartment I walked to the subway station. I noticed a fellow who appeared to be following me. I walked faster. He walked faster. I got scared. There was teargas in the air and fires all over Izmir. But the main street approach to the subway was deserted — just me and the man.

    I started jogging. He started jogging. I began running for my life. He was running, too but couldn’t catch me. Soon men dressed in regular clothes converged behind him. They all had big batons in their hands. I ran faster than I ever sprinted in college track, as I’m running I’m yelling “tourist.” Someone came out of a side street and tackled me, but I struggled and got away.

    Soon I saw a police car and ran for it, throwing open the door, jumping in and quickly slamming the door. Then to my surprise, the men who had been following me grabbed me out of the police car, threw me on the ground and handcuffed me. As the others began to catch up to me, they yelled and began to beat me with the batons. I was taken to jail — jammed packed with protesters. I couldn’t understand anything anybody was saying because everybody was screaming, the protesters and the police.

    The police took my phone and my passport and then over and over asked, “Money, money.” I had no money, just my subway card. After 30 minutes or so, my phone began ringing incessantly. One officer answered and began talking in Turkish to the caller. He put the phone to my ear. It was my friend who was worried since I hadn’t called her when I got home. She asked if I was alright and said she’d be at the police station as soon as possible. Not long after, an officer came by the cell, pointed at me and shouted, “Get out, get out!” I did. He uncuffed me and I was allowed to sit outside of the cell as my friend came and talked with the police.

    Who were the men who chased and beat me? My friends tell me they are secret paramilitary police called out to break up the demonstrations, but actually beating anybody they come across.

  2. Dianne Avatar

    Here is an excellent link–with great photos–that is regularly updated:

    http ://showdiscontent . com

  3. Nick Avatar

    The folks at LabourStart have a form set up that allows you to quickly send a message to the Turkish government demanding an end to the police violence: http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=1840

    It would also be a good idea to send a message to your country’ Turkish embassy. Here’s contact info for the Turkish embassy to the US: http://vasington.be.mfa.gov.tr/ContactInfo.aspx