In depth letter from Istanbul about the Turkish revolution
It has been a while since the riots started in Istanbul and spread out to other cities in Turkey. Finally we have found time and space to write you a summary and our point of view.
We guess most of you know how it started but you might not know details that we’ve seen. Good & Bad & Funny & Creative
*How it started:
First night it was just a protest against the tree destruction really! In that now famous Gezi Park there were only between 50-100 people or less (which includes some of our friends). They were protesting the shocking news of central shopping mall idea… Cause the municipality started to destroy the park & trees at midnight without information. Etc.. And around 5 am police attacked the silent peaceful protestors with tear gas, pepper gas whatever and water.. and burned their tents . They were brutal. Next day we went to the park as well to support, and this time there were 5000 people, it was like a big party of angry but righteous people. Nice speeches, nice vibes and nice slogans such as ‘’spray the gas / spray the gas / take of your helmet / drop your stick / look who is the brave one now ‘’
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Then the crowd was peaceful and joyful, most of the people left the park early that night and again5 a.m. in the morning, the police attacked the few people who were night watching the park. Right after that, couple of hours later people started a sitting protest in the Taksim square and again they were attacked brutally. Few hours later than that, there was a press meeting about the incidence and police attacked there too very viciously !
After that everything changed! there was a sudden awakening in everybody’s mind and soul ! ENOUGH ! Thousands of people rushed to Taksim and the surrounding neighborhoods trying to occupy Gezi Park and show their power of being together which was so inspiring. People from so many different backgrounds, organizations, political parties came together, it was something that we have never witnessed in our history, maybe even in your history too. After this it wasn’t about the trees at all but it was about oppression that brought us all together! It was such a magical moment that made us all shiver from happiness.
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The best example is the 3 major İstanbul team’s football supporter gang’s attitude. Beşiktaş / Galatasaray / Fenerbahçe . Which normally would never come together in any circumstances. Their fights between them were bloody in the past. Seeing them united you felt like they could save the world from any menace.
Their plan succeeded… Meanwhile the police was not letting anybody into Taksim Square, they were brutal and spraying tones of water and gas constantly to the crowd. Each team’s supporter gang occupied one street opening to Taksim square, organized people and resisted in the first row all night long! And behind them there were hundred thousand or more people who had never been in any kind of protest in their lives. Nobody was throwing anything to the police, they were just shouting slogans and chanting songs… but this was a long night, till morning the battle continued. We returned to our home to Asian side at midnight and we saw a big crowd gathering, because of the blind media nobody was aware of the situation earlier. So at 3 am, thousands of people started to walk to the Bosporus Bridge to cross over to the European side, and give support to the resisters. It was so magical, thousands of people marching over the bridge at sunrise – 5 am.
the next day, more people gathered at noon… till afternoon it was gas all around Taksim, big resistance, everybody’s face red, eyes in tears, masks, weird liquid medicines, lemons, milks to cure the gas burns… but oddly around 5pm, they let people into the square without any announcement, suddenly there were no police at all!!! That moment was the scariest moment, cause people were in the square, almost a million people and it was total silence and shocked faces. Expecting another enemy attack any moment… Then they never came back to Taksim Square and Gezi Park after. And the big peace festival started there with all the musicians, artists, writers, activists, actors, directors, students etc.
But the fights and battle moved to other neighborhoods and cities. Beşiktaş, which is the neighborhood around the corner from Taksim, was hell for 2 days long. Also İzmir and Ankara was real hell / on fire. Cause as a protester here there was a Gezi Park that you could find uplifting sharing partying celebrating crowd. People were celebrating, enjoying there and then going to battle to smell some gas. Then back to Gezi Park to sleep. The other cities were real deal, as we understand. And still some riots are happening, but we r not receiving clear and healthy information at all.
Anyway enough summary, but here are some touchy and funny details.
*If there is one thing that you should know about the resistance, it is ÇARŞI (beşiktaş team’s supporter gang!)
Çarşı is known for their leftist anarchist and humorist attitude against everything, wherever there is a righteous fight they r there to support ironically.
It is hard to tell their psychology but one day you should search them.
They are the reason of all football clubs’ supporters coming together. They were so hilarious…
**They sprayed black paint to the police masks and made them take them off during the gas bombing. That was clever!
**They took over one of the scariest armed police vehicle for a while and also police walkie talkie.
Here is a conversation between them:
police officer: open the barricade but don’t go further
toma (panzer) 7: copied
police officer: now return and squirt water
toma (panzer) 7: copied
police officer: Toma 9, you do the same too.
toma (panzer) 9: ZzZZzzz
police officer: Toma 9!!!
toma (panzer) 9: This is Vedat, listening…
police officer: Who the hell is Vedat?
toma (panzer) 9: Vedat from Çarşı.. the drummer (and he starts chanting a beşiktaş song)
-and next day, they put the panzer vehicle on sale on Turkish ebay. As a joke of course.
**Next day of the 1st big clash, they called the 155 police number and said ‘whenever you feel like, lets get thing started…’
**At midnight when thousands of cans of gas sprayed to them and we were thinking it is over, but they found one big crane and drove it towards the police Toma vehicle.. was incredible funny to see that moment !!! //check out the photos
**Next day they gave another ad asking for a helicopter pilot to help them kidnap a helicopter. Cause there were many of them spraying gas from the sky. Their gas didn’t have any smell or smoke. Scary one.
-Anyway Çarşı became the heroes of this movement! All the single ladies wanna marry one of the Çarşı guys. I am sure if they become a political party everybody would vote for them.
RED HACK & ANONYMOUS
Turkish hacker gang Red Hack and worldwide known Anonymous teamed for these events. Red Hack started with hacking some smaller websites that were linked with the government. They published the telephone and email addresses of every minister from AK party.
After the 3rd day Anonymous joined forces and first warned the government. And than they hacked Prime Minister’s own web site, the parlament’s website, major TV channel’s websites and many more. They were twitting eachother, RedHack was giving them the targets and they were bringing them down, announcing TANGO DOWN#.
ABOUT THE PLACES & MEDIA
-Mass media companies were blind, showing penguin documentaries or food shows during the biggest clashes in at least 7 different cities.
-Thanks to the riots English language has a new verb: “Chapuling”. It comes from “Çapulcu” which means “looter” in English. The PM called the protesters “çapulcu” which became our name and we are proud of it. Chapuling means rioting. And you can find a whole explanation about it on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapuling
-One TV show, a quiz show, aired on a TV channel known to be close to the government, did a fantastic protest. The show is about people trying to guess the word with simple clues that host gives. Almost every word used on that show where about the riots… Words like “resistance”, “protestor”, “çarşı”, “çapulcu”… There’s a rumor saying that the host is now fired…
-We realized that we are the media, the public is the media. Everybody has been gathering video and photo evidences and people have been live streaming the events via their mobile phones and have been sending them to the foreign press.
-Gill Scot Heron’s famous song title “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” has been one of the most used terms. It is true… we all now know that “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, It Will Be Tweeted”
-People left their doors open so that the protesters could find a place to hide from the gas and the cops. People were leaving medicine equipment and food outside their doorsteps for the protestors. Also people were leaving wet towel in a bucket so that the protestors could pick up the tear gas bomb and throw it back. This is another clever idea.
-One of the most amazing things was the cleaning up and picking up rubbish events after every riot. After the 3rd day of the riots it became a movement. All the protestors, after each clash and protest is over, gather with rubbish bags in their hands and clean all the mess. At the moment Taksim and Gezi Park are one of the cleanest places on the planet! Because the authorities were trying to blame the protestors for all destruction in the city. But we all know and have evidences that most of the vandalism was done by the cops and undercover polices. Shop windows, atm machines etc.
-After Gezi Park was occupied by the public, the street artists made an open call, offering people free service to cover up the slogans they didn’t like on their buildings walls.
-Gezi Park, now is like a peace of heaven. No cops, no violence, thousands of people from different backgrounds and groups are together enjoying freedom and learning from each other. Gay and lesbian organizations, Islamic organizations, communists, nationalists, vegetarians, feminists and many more… Food is free, water is free, they have an open-air library built with the people’s donations, they have free yoga closes every morning, vets for injured animals, people planting new trees, bands are giving free concerts.
-But what will happen? There are many riots in different cities, people are supporting the Gezi Park & their freedoms with peaceful protests and still are facing excessive police violence. Especially young girls and females are the most affected by the police violence. Cause they can’t stand the free spirit female figures. There are many violent videos of around 10 cops beating a teenager or a woman.
PM -who left the country on the 5th day of the riots for a trip to North Africa for what reason we don’t know- says he will, no matter what, turn our park into shopping mall… but we all know it’s not about a shopping mall anymore. It is about our rights, our cities, our lands and our future. It seems he is not gonna step back and we don’t know what’s gonna happen.
*we attached some images, they don’t belong to us..
here are good ones as well if you wanna check it out.
stay tuned !
AYLİN & HAKAN