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What is happening in Turkey?

One of our alumni based in Turkey sent us a first-hand report about the current events in the country.

News from Jun 15, 2013

"I have never been such a politically dedicated person in my life. I have my own political view and my own belief of course, but I always stayed on the safe side, showing my reaction via social media or by talking to people. This was what was done in Turkey for the past ten years.

These days, we are witnessing something we are not really used to seeing. We have seen, heard or read of these kind of protests and demonstrations before, but not had them in our country. The last events like this took place in Turkey in the 1980s, and  named after the date; it was called the “80s event” ever since then.  The military took over in those days, the government resigned and a tight ruling system was instated. So the military overpowered the government and stopped the crisis.

Now the case is diffferent, we are witnessing a resistance; this is true. But nevertheless, there is no such military behind the people now. Because all the repulican soldiers, rulers, press and people who are not in favor of the government and openly declaring this, are now arrested. This was really very weird when we first heard about it. But now it is such a random thing to see people getting arrested because they are letting their thoughts be heard! Yesterday a very well-known press member, who is highly popular among the public was interviewed and asked, “Would you say that Tayyip Erdaogan is a dictator?” She replied: “I wouldn’t because I am afraid they will arrest me at once!”.

During these resistance protests, people gathered via social media. The events started on 31 May 2013; on a Friday. The first week was very hard. The police force exercised unbalanced power against the people. A thousand people were arrested in the first week, I am not counting those that were injured and about the ten people being killed by different means.

The police force uses rubber bullets, and they shoot at people. They are using this so called pepper gas everywhere so far eight dogs, 63 cats and 1028 birds have died because of this gas. You can guess how strong it is. There  are some hotels, some shops and voluntary doctors and medical students helping people free of charge in the resistance areas: Istanbul, Anakara and Izmır. The police forces attack them, they fire at their tents, homes, even they go to hospitals to arrest or to attack people who were protesting and became injured. Also they attack the doctors helping the injured people. They call hospitals to make them give the names of the injured people going to hospital who are involved in the protests. If the hospital gives the names to police, guess what will happen! So far no names have been given, because the nurses doctors, lawyers are with the protestors.

This issue, as you might have guessed already, is not about the trees or the park. Yes, this was the last thing that drove the people crazy. But it is not only about this! It is about the alcohol bans. They banned the sale of alcohol after 10 pm. It is about the people who were killed in Reyhanlı, near Syria. It is about freedom of thought. It is about the games turned against the people. It is about the police injuring people on the meeting of 1 May, Labor Day. It is about swearing to Ataturk, who is the founder of Turkish Republic. It is about the arrested people and the banned books. It is about so many things! It has been 18 days, and I am sure these events wouldn’t go so far if only it was talked out in the first days. Instead of talking with the poeple that were protesting, the Prime Minister, Mr. Erdogan, chose to fly to different African countries for scheduled political meetings. He came back only five days later. And by that time, the demonstrations had only become worse because of the police attitudes. For the first week, the media did not show anything! Can you believe this, our media has been slienced because they were threated by the government. Instead of the events, we read about football scores in the headlines! This is what drove people more crazy and led to more aggresive behavior. 76 million people living in Turkey,  maybe still half of them are unaware of how serious the case is, because what they see from the TV is just 1% of what is happening.

What is happening in the resistance areas is just FUN! Because really the people are having fun until the police forces arrive. They are playing music. There are live concerts taking place. They are reading books, dancing, and shouting for freedomand peace. This is really nothing to do with the political parties. For example, the Republican Party, an opponent of the government is not allowed into the protest areas because the protestors want it to be independent of politics. All they want is maybe a warm discussion or to be listened to. However, they are not being listened to. Nobody from the government understands them. The government labels them as terrorists! Terrorists! Believe it or not! Have you seen a terrorist without a gun, dancing singing, eating for free, cooking for free?

There are some actors and actresses, singersi writers giving support for the resistance. The people living in the neighborhoods cooks and the protestors eat drink for free. Some restaurants help people, they give water and milk (for the pepper gas), and sometimes a meal. There is immense solidarity. This is what is perfect for the Turkish people. The Kurd and the Turk, the religious guy, and an ateist – every one is hand in hand and they are helping each other.

These days, what is also frequently being talked about in social media is the Kurd problem. We watched on TV and read in the newspapers that the Kurds are harmful to Turkish people, that they are cruel so we have to beprejudiced towards them. Now, the Turkish people are saying that they are sorry for what has happened. Because they also watched this Kurdish problem from the same media source: the government’s media. Every media channel, newspaper did the same thing. So we hear, we see what the government wants us to see.  There are only one or two normal papers and TV channels, and they are not really read or watched. So this message was long, but it is not even the half of what I want to say.

The main idea is this: the government is very powerful. The media is soldout to the government. The police force is just a toy of the government: they are ready to attack and kill the people at once. The government is rich, but the resistance is going on, because the people have hope!"