Uma amiga turca, Elif Mendos, escreveu-me este texto para que o pudesse publicar na página do Jornal Tribuna. Trata-se de um texto sobre o preocupante paradigma actualmente vivido em Istambul, mas é ainda um texto de uma querida amiga que, durante algum tempo, se passeou comigo pelas ruas do Porto, me ensinou algumas coisas sobre o seu país (que anseio por visitar) e que me deixa já incontáveis saudades.
"By now, many things have been told about what is going on in Turkey. Referring to Arab spring, “Turkish Spring” they said or a clash of Islamic identity versus secular identity, or as in government supported media tried to show violent attacks to police by a bunch of “provocateurs”. Whatever has been trying to be labeled, the core claim of Turkish people in fact revolve more around increasingly authoritarian government pursued by Prime Minister Erdoğan's AKP (Justice and Development Party).
In brief it all started with a peaceful sit-in to prevent the last green piece of Istanbul in the center of Taksim Square, where the biggest historical, economical and cultural meeting point is. People wanted to prevent the destruction of Gezi Park and its transformation into a shopping mall. The redevelopment of Taksim Square, including the destruction of where the movement all started in -Gezi Park, was another capitalist urban development project. It run through unaccountable processes and was only in favor of the AKP. This project, like many others, leaved no voice for the citizens although it was shaping the urban environment they live in. This redevelopment project included demolishing of a symbol of local business Inci Pastry House in December 2012, followed by a destruction of Emek Theater (an independent cinema operation since 1924 and home to Istanbul Film Festival). Also the destruction of port areas of Karaköy, Beşiktaş, Kadıköy; the uprooting of up to 2.5 million trees for the construction of a widely unpopular third bridge across the Bosphoros are other “fall out from the sky” projects. In fact, over the past decades, as part of its urban modernization program, the AKP has been ripping down almost all historic and green sites while serving this places in the interest of domestic and foreign businessmen.
These all leaded us to todays. Now it was the turn of Gezi Park. Another public space had to be turned into an arena for private profit. On May 28, the day that municipal officers responsible for destruction arrived, people started a peaceful sit-in to not to give up on what left as an only green space, were in the park There were only a group of fifty protesters. On May 31 many people including journalists, parlimanters joined this peaceful sit-in in the park. They were reading books, camping, singing the Beatles underneath that tree they were protecting. And in the early hours of 31th of May the police attacked, burning the tents, using tear gas bombs, water cannons...This was a milestone when the protest crossed the political barriers. You do not have to be a leftist, rightist, secularist, Islamist to care about the environment, to care about the future generation. And yet, this is not just about uprroting of trees. It is about privatization of public space, turning the urban center a depoliticized and desocialized place. So by means of changing the urban place, forcing people to change themselves to a depolitic, desocialized rabble never opposing to the government.
The resistance that has spreaded to whole country was an accumulation of incidents. In the general elections of 2011 the AKP was reelected and this was stated as a “victory”. However from the time they were first elected in 2002 their records has been filled up with jailing of journalists, academics and students untill today. Their other governmental policies caused mass destructions on Turkey's democratic standards. Many journalists have been fired from the media companies wheneever they questioned the actions of the government. A book by Ahmet Şık, who was injured in the head by the excessive use of force by the police during #occupygezi resistance, was collected before its publication and the electronic copy of the draft was destroyed. The list continues to the Turkish Air Force's mass slaughter thirty-four villagers in Uludere/Roboski region of Turkey in December 2010, attacks in the southern town of Reyhanlı in which 52 people died, lipstick ban for stewardness in Turkish Airlines, a new strict alcohol law.... With all of these incidents, it was becoming clearer that the toleration of democratic mechanisms is not well developed. PM Erdoğan's and ruling party's view of democracy is a majoritarian dictatorship validated with election in every five years. For its 11 year old governance, the AKP has lacked of any tolerance to opposed ideas. As on May 29, the statement by PM Erdoğan referring to #occupygezi resistance “we have made our decision and we will implement it; you cannot do anything about it”, was the cause of this lack of tolerance.
As I wrote this, in 5th of June, the resistance is in its 9th day. People in Turkey got used to the tear gas that has been covering the sky lately. They now become professionals on how to fit the effects of tear gas, how to paralyze the water cannon. Most importantly people resisted with only flesh and bones, holding on the human dignity and their rights. Many videos and photos that taken by those unarmed people in the streets are the evidence of the massive violence. The more the police used excessive force, the more people marched in the streets in all country to support the resistance. Unlike what PM Erdoğan calls as “provocatuers”, those people are unarmed civilians. With this movement people not only overcome their fear to the authority and also to the “other”. It has been a long issue of the AKP government to polarised the public as “activist”, “terrorists”, “alcoholics”, “nationalist”. But now everyone is regardless of who they are, struggling arm to arm for the sake of freedom, democracy and to stop the ignorance of the AKP for 11 years. Tragically, the mass media in Turkey are all controlled by the government. This oppression by the government is the main reason of media censorship. The media companies are hiding this public masses in Turkey. While mass violence by the police was occuring outside, they showed gourmet programmes, documentaries about penguins or even ironically a documentary about Hitler. Since they only broadcast to serve the government, they mention this civil unrest as a violence against police and the demonstrators as violators. As the mass media keeps to be blindfolded to what has been going on in the streets, the only communication source is the social media. The useful tactical informations can only be exchanged via Facebook or Twitter.
This is not a movement of political parties or institutions. This is a movement of people. Also this is not about religion, not for a name of god. People are protesting throughout Turkey for the sake of freedom, humanity, existence and green places. Gezi Park is a symbol of government's understanding of power. We are not looters or extremists. We are students, teachers, workers, mothers, fathers. We represent various etnicities and creeds, religions and ideologies. We are now united because of our mutual concern for Turkey's future. We demand an end to police violence. We demand a free and unbiased media. We demand an open dialogue.
At the rock bottom this resistance is all for “To live! As a tree alone and like a forest in brotherhood.” (Nazım Hikmet Ran)"