Arkadaşlar – Friends,
I’m trying hard to make a slowly by slowly come back… I’m feeling very sick and awaiting surgery without a set date due to insurance problems. As I lie here in bed in pain I am entertaining myself by watching the goings on in Turkey – which feel quite revolutionary. Most of you will know what I am talking about – but in case you don’t Hacivad Bey & I will sum it up for you here:
(Karagöz is impatient – just protest – forget blogging – time only for çapuling!)
Only roughly 2% of Istanbul’s geographical area is green space. One tiny park in the center of Istanbul, Gezi Parkı, became at risk of being razed at the order of Prime Minister Erdoğan.
A small number of protesters began a sit-in, occupy movement-style. They were gassed early-morning a week ago – leading to larger and larger protests w/ thousands upon thousands of people streaming towards the city center from the European and Asian sides of the city. The sheer numbers of people walking across the bridges from the Asian side to the European side of Istanbul over the Bosporus strait were staggering.
This small environmental protest became the straw that broke the camel’s back (so to speak) for many in Turkey around issues of government repression vis a vis veiling, sales of alcohol, media repression and more. As the famous Turkish writer and poet Nazim Hikmet said years ago,
“one tree fell, one nation rose!” And indeed, it appears this has happened, albeit perhaps for slightly more than 50% of the population. Turkey is split fairly evenly as I understand it between secularists & more conservative practitioners of Islam.
Responses to these peaceful protests have been stunningly brutal on the part of the police who have used tear gas and pepper gas and water cannons with abandon. Our friends have been gassed and at times the gas has so saturated the air across the city that our friends have had to flee their apartments because they could not breathe.
We have watched a video of police brutality on M.’s Home street – where we can see the family building which he grew up in and which is still part of the family. Can you imagine watching a revolution take place on your home street? There were pools of blood on the street – it was very disturbing.
There are many light moments though, that I have watched on my iPad – videos highlighting the amazing creativity and humor of Turks in the face of such a difficult situation. One of my favorite graffiti lines said “please send more pepper gas – it’s good for the complexion.” Of course, after Prime Minister Erdoğan Referred to the protesters as çapulcular – Which can be translated as bombs, looters, rioters, troublemakers, etc. – The people have taken back the word and made it into their own. Slogans such as “I am çapuling every day” or “I çapul, Therefore I am” are commonly seen in graffiti around the city now.
So far, it appears that the AKP governing party has not budged very much in response to this major popular movement – a popular movement that is burgeoning way beyond Istanbul in many cities all over Turkey including for example Bursa, Eskişehir, Antakya,
Tunceli, Diyarbakır, Rize, İzmir & Ankara Among many more. We hear that almost all of the 81 provinces in Turkey are experiencing protest – not mostly nonviolent protest. It saddens us that the United States television media especially seems to focus only on Istanbul – although it’s a bit better today.
In any case, Karagöz And the whole theater puppet crew resident here in the bed with me have one message for you:
“Viva çapuling & power to all the çapulcular worldwide – may good sense, compromise, reason and peace abound as we move forward in these difficult days.”