“Anneler Burada!” Hell hath no fury like a (Turkish) mother during #OccupyGezi


Even Karagoz the trickster puppet really, really loves and worships his (Ottoman) Turkish mother (Image by Liz Cameron)

Even Karagoz the trickster puppet really, really loves and worships his (Ottoman) Turkish mother (Image by Liz Cameron)

So, it’s been a few days since we’ve seen major outbreaks of police brutality in major Turkish cities – although the action is still hot and some of the smaller cities, Mersin & Eskişehir, for example.  Karagoz, as usual, steps in and interrupts me at this point “Ladies and Gents, let me tell you the news – we are hearing a lot about standing man, standing women and standing humans. We are hearing about people standing in bikinis, Islamist standing against standing men and all sorts of confusing standing but so far no Islamist men standing in bikinis – but we will keep you posted.”

Hacivad Bey, the learned Sufi elder and traditional sparring partner of our dear, agent provocateur Karagoz, drags Karagoz away at this point. “Karagoz,” he whispers with a bit more of a hiss than a Sufi might like, “you are disturbing the #DuranKaragozOyunlari!” The puppets, you see, are still standing quietly all over the house, still surrounded by all of our shoes standing empty, in honor of the disappeared and injured and dead from the protests in Turkey. You can see about why the puppets are standing by clicking here.

One Turkish mother-to-be explained that her baby was saying "I'm on the way - 95% there" this image went viral - source unknown

One Turkish mother-to-be explained that her baby was saying “I’m on the way to protest at Gezi Park – 95% there” this image went viral – source unknown

So back to my point, during this period of considering standing and recovery, of a sort, from the intense violence, it has given me some time to reflect on what has gone on. I have one puppet to thank for that. As I woke, she sat, and did not stand. She sat, graciously and elegantly on top of the picture frame that greets my eyes first thing in the morn – a watercolor depicting a woman in mourning, in a tall black lace mantilla, walking on a cobblestone street towards the gate of a castle. My Granny always had this picture fairly close by – she had brought it with her from Spain.  One day, on the anniversary of her granddaughter’s death, she explained the wearing of black to me.

“You are waking to the view of the mourning mother today for a reason, M’lady,” my fairy godmother puppet explained. She usually makes very rare appearances for dire situations – but she has been around a lot lately. “Anneler – which for your readers means ‘mothers’ in Turkish.” She said softly but firmly. “I think you should honor them on the blog. And if I do not say so myself, there is nothing like a Turkish mother. And while many people from many ethnicities and cultures might say the same – well – I’m Turkish so I say this!” My, my, Perihan Hanim the fairly godmother is getting a bit nationalistic – that’s new!  Shifting her silken robes so as not to obscure the watercolor, she looked me straight in the eye, saying “the cult of Turkish motherhood is an obvious one (you can see it in your own husband, no?) and we have seen much of young people protesting over the last three weeks – but think of their mothers – anneler! Let us honor them today.” And in the blink of my sleepy morning moment, she was gone. And I knew what I had to do.

Protesting Turkish mothers - original source unknown

Protesting Turkish mothers – original source unknown

So, when I picked up my phone (the pathetic ritual start of my day) I should not have been surprised that I saw a tweet which had gone viral – a photo of the Turkish mother preparing bottles of antacid spray as an antidote to being cheer or pepper gas – for her children to take out to the protests with them. You can see that here. And as I began to think about that mother at her tiny kitchen table and all the mothers of all Çapulcular (resistance protestors), I was reminded of the power, passion and even deeply furious motherly love of mothers I know in Turkey.

For example, İ have been in regular contact with a good friend, mother of three children who are just in the prime protest age. I know that each night she worried as her children were out protesting – and what young adolescent person would not have wanted to join in the people’s movement that is (was?) #OccupyGezi. I am sure part of her respects that – but I also know that she’s completely freaked out and horrified that something will happen to her children. Of course, this is not abnormal.

One hot Turkish mama with a gas mask - also a viral image with original source unknown

One hot Turkish mama with a gas mask – also a viral image with original source unknown

Of course, mothers and protests have a long history. We had the mothers’ movements in Chile, Argentina, El Salvador and China who protested the disappearances or death of their children. During these protests, these anneler often show pictures of their children who are missing and my heart aches just thinking of them, with no way to make peace or create an ending to their ordeals. Let us hope that Turkey will not have the same mother’s movement with respect to any who have disappeared during #OccupyGezi. And, let me say, I am sure there are many more Turkish mothers who have lost children through conflicts between the Turks and the Kurds, lost children serving in the military or lost children during that country’s coup d’états…of course, mothers always lose children.

Turkish mammas in the making? Or the making of one very smart and caring activist Turkish mamma? (Image found on Bostonbullular website)

Turkish mammas in the making? Or the making of one very smart and caring activist Turkish mamma? (Image found on Bostonbullular website)

But let me highlight one aspect of the #OccupyGezi protests that really caught my attention. On the first Thursday night of the protests and police attacks, after the Prime Minister Erdoğan (Karagöz Refers to him, by the way, as ‘Prime Minister Air Jordan’) indicated to his Minister of the Interior that he wanted all of the protesters cleared from the park within 24 hours, and encouraged mothers to bring their children home – as if it was children on the street – and not adolescents and young adults who could give a whit about their anneler (maybe?). As a response, a circle of mothers came for what was dubbed “the mother protest.” They cried “Anneler, burada” (meaning “mothers are here!”) and generally made a wonderful fuss and powerful imagery for those media outlets that DID manage to cover these unprecedented events…you can catch video of this here.

Although I am not – and do not have a Turkish mother – teşekkür ederim Anneler!

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This entry was posted in Cross-cultural learning moments, Family Challenges, Gendered moments, Turkish Controversies, Turkish-American Matters, Turklish Moments, Visits from the Karagöz puppets and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “Anneler Burada!” Hell hath no fury like a (Turkish) mother during #OccupyGezi

  1. jolly joker says:

    well, there is a mother movement in turkey too, you have no reason to know that.
    called ‘cumartesi anneleri’ (satuday mothers) they get together every saturday since 1995 front of galatasaray high school/istanbul
    https://www.google.com/search?q=cumartesi+anneleri&client=firefox-a&hs=7Ys&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=WLrDUYeZKcb-0gGZwIDgDQ&ved=0CDsQsAQ&biw=1114&bih=584

  2. lizcameron says:

    Well, jolly joker… It’s been a long, long, long time since we have heard the likes of you! Thank you for letting us know about this movement. Perhaps we will write about it someday if the puppets are interested. Love, Liz

  3. lizcameron says:

    SBS readers: For those of you that cannot read Turkish or who can barely read it, such as me, the movement that jolly joker’s comment refers to consists of one led by Turkish mothers on the political left of the spectrum and Turkish-Kurdish mothers. They gather in front of the Galatasaray school weekly – to protest lost and disappeared children.

  4. Alan says:

    I’m proud to say that J and I have stood with them (and the fathers) for the half hour that they are allowed. I remember squeezing a father’s arm in empathy and he dissolved on my shoulder and we cried together.

  5. A good connection of family, hope for the future, and protest now. Here, protest is done mostly by seniors. Too many things on family schedules, and the era when protest was considered virtuous belongs to the Boomer generation. And we are not being tear-gassed – But your point, that mothers suffer aching fears for their children in times of unrest, is so true. May the day come when peace will reign –

  6. lizcameron says:

    Thank you, Nancy. A very interesting point you raise about the age of protesters. I think that indeed, this has been true. And also indeed family schedules play a big part in this. This is where in part social media allows us to advocate in between times and spaces when we are so pressed. However, the global riots exemplified in Turkey and Brazil this week show a younger generation…let’s hope.

  7. lizcameron says:

    I am so glad you stood in solidarity with them. Your story – the highlight here – made me weep. I had not known of this movement until the jolly joker struck. And I am glad he did, although it does add to the dull weight of the world grinding us down in these ways. Resist!

  8. PHu says:

    I know how hard it is to lose your Mom. I lost mine 6 years ago and it still is hard to deal with. I do have a family of my own so that helps to have a suopirtpve family.I have 3 sons and they try to make Mother’s Day fun for me! I try to think about the best times I had with my Mom to cope. I hope your day was nice, just the same.

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