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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- Support 21st June Protest at Turkish Embassy London at 1500-17.30pm : Turkey: Violent Eviction of Gezi Park gives rise to “standing protestors” (democracyandclasstruggle.blogspot.com)
- Turkey is “Still Standing” . New update from Z. (illuminations2012.wordpress.com)
- Gezi Park and The Lingering Gas (katrinkaabroad.com)
- Turkish PM Erdogan Tries to Downplay Occupy Gezi Protests (novinite.com)
- The Karagöz puppets are çapuling from bed rest! (elizcameron.com)
- Update from ‘Z’ in Turkey: Strength Through Standing in Silence (goldenageofgaia.com)
- In Turkey : Mothers form a protective Circle – Divine Feminine ! (illuminations2012.wordpress.com)