Last night at approximately 8 PM Istanbul time, a single man began standing, silently, knapsack at his side in Taksim Square. He stood this way, as I understand it without speaking, for a number of hours. Soon, people understood that this was an act of civil disobedience related to current events in Turkey.
Like wildfire, the best possible wildfire, the hashtagged term #DuranAdam (Meaning “standing man”) was born and people were standing silently in the middle of the night all over Turkey – and indeed in many other parts of the world. Obviously, this quickly spreading example of civil disobedience was powered by the best of what social media can do.
Of course, today, there is an article in one of the English-language Turkish newspapers explaining that the Turkish government is working to create a law restricting the use of social media as it relates to protest organization.
When M. came home, I told him about what was going on – and he finally succumbed to acknowledging the utility of Twitter – and began using it. Eventually, on Twitter, we saw others gather silently around the original standing man – then we saw them form a human chain around him.
Now, given that this blog IS after all about cross-cultural marriage and the joys and challenges that come with that – let me digress for a moment. As an avid activist on Twitter, I began to tweet standing man support and solidarity messages – including writing “standing woman” in Turkish – #DuranKadın. M. corrected me – “In Turkey, we would just say ‘adam’ (pronounced ‘ah-dahm” meaning ‘man’) to mean all. You don’t need to write kadın.” I hate to admit that I heard this comment in a bit of a snide tone. Much of this comes from the constant correction I ask from him now as I am learning Turkish in earnest via Rosetta Stone. I am sure that part of his response comes from the genderless aspects of the Turkish language- but that is a Turklish issue for another day. In any case – I told him that as a feminist – it was important to me that gendered language be used. This type of language issue has been parsed and parsed again here in the US, but the Turkish culture (as I see it) and the Turkish feminist movement (again as I see it) are just beginning to parse this issue. It was a little hard to acknowledge that my extremely egalitarian husband was still stuck in this small way…I wrote #Durankadın anyway. I note that others have adopted using both terms today, both in Turkey and in the Turkish-American world – a good sign for an iota of feminist awareness. I’m sure we’ll now have A LOT to discuss at home tonight given this post.
In any case, back to last night, as we monitored Twitter, as none of this was being reported on mainstream media, we saw the police buses come and begin to arrest everyone but the standing man. The police had announced that they would arrest anyone but the standing man. As one person was arrested, another would step forward from the crowd and take his or her place. This went on and on. You can read about what happened here. These arrests just feel so ridiculous – yet hopeful that now the world will see how crazy Prime Minister Erdoğan And his administration has become.
At one point, the original standing man appeared to us to be briefly detained and then released. And eventually, a statement was released from him indicating that his quiet nonviolent protest was in response to the lack of Turkish media coverage of the four people who have died during the brutal police crackdown on peaceful protesters during the #OccupyGezi movement.
After weeks of heartache in watching what it has been happening in Turkey, we joined another Turkish-American family for dinner – and through the night, we watched more and more examples of “standing men”and “standing women” all over Turkey. As we turned on the satellite Turkish news to the one station most likely to show anything related to the protest – our humor was dark – “how many have been arrested so far?” we asked, giggling. The events of the past two weeks have been so traumatic for all of us, that we have taken to black humor in order to cope.
By the time I woke this morning, I saw the great lines of all our shoes lined up in pairs around the apartment in and between all of the Karagöz oyunları.
I immediately realized that my puppets were standing men and standing women too – hoping that this new protest might do some cosmic good as they are only the fictitious puppets of
my imaginary mental world.
In lining up the many pairs of shoes in our house, they were following the example of one standing man in the notoriously protest oriented neighborhood of Beşiktaş In Istanbul. I have included a picture of this man here who stands, silently, surrounded by empty pairs of shoes, presumably representing the 400 or so disappeared Turkish protesters counted thus far.
Although I am sick these days, and although I overdid it yesterday by going out, and cannot stand still for long because of my pain, my heart and soul are with the standing people – And today’s standing men and standing women protest in Boston’s Copley Square. And it is with great sadness that I monitor social media this morning, seeing many standing men and standing women being arrested all over Turkey by plainclothes policeman.
At least the true colors of the AKP Are finally showing in the world media – but more importantly the true colors of the Turkish people are also showing and showing strongly.
The puppets are still standing.
- #Duranadam: ‘Standing man’ protest goes viral as Turkey eyes law to restrict social media (rt.com)
- Standing Up …and not only in Turkey ! (illuminations2012.wordpress.com)
- #Duranadam: ‘Standing man’ protest goes viral as Turkey eyes law to restrict social media (jhaines6.wordpress.com)
- ‘Standing man’ inspires silent demonstration in Turkey #duranadam (bluesyemre.com)
- Taksim Square’s Last Man Standing (rferl.org)
- ‘Standing man’ inspires Turkish protesters in Istanbul (arunbabyveranakunnel.wordpress.com)
- ‘Standing man’ stages silent protest in Taksim Square (thetimes.co.uk)
- Turkey’s ‘Standing Man’ introduces a new form of protest (thenewstribe.com)