Gazi Mahallesi, Istanbul, Turkey. June 2013
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In order to understand the uprising in Turkey and Istanbul, it is important though to walk through these neighborhoods outside the Taksim square. In the poor neighborhoods of Istanbul, in the slums, where oppression and fascism overcomes everything (not anymore though), the battle has begun.
If Taksim and ‘Gezi’ park are just a great party with colors and full of optimism, at ‘Gazi Mahellesi’, a working-class neighborhood where mostly Alevis and Kurdish minority live, the battle has begun. The quarter is known for the events that occurred in March 1995, known as the “1995 Gazi Quarter riots”, where during the four-day lasting unrest, a total of 23 people were killed and more than 400 were injured.
Kids with their mothers, young girls, grandfathers and old ladies wearing the hijab, along with 25 year olds - born in the military dictatorship – and with no experience in revolutions, with no protective masks, with hand made protection wrapped in cling film, fight the most moving battle I have ever witnessed. United waiting every night the water auras with chemicals and the stun grenades.
The minute they found out I am Greek - there is strict control for the prevention and avoidance of vigilantes - they hugged me and lift me up in the air!!! For the first time I was ashamed to wear a gas mask, in front of their “nakedness” and passion.
No anarchists, no political parties, nothing… just people filled with passion and no fear in front of the water, the chemicals and the stun grenades. People in the street puts fire on everything… everything but private businesses and shops. People’s targets were only whatever reminded them of police or the powerful Turkish media. Their target was fascism and repression.
On Monday June 10, early in the morning, I received a call from a leader of the steering group of ‘insurgency Gazi Mahallesi’. He reported that after ten days and nights of continuous battles with the police and since the police could not break the blockade, they offered seize of chemicals as long as the people continue to do what they are doing since day one. Not destroy private property. Since they did not give an excuse and since they lasted for all these days, at least for now they won a battle.
Nobody knows how this will apply but the message is clear and simple. The battle for freedom and dignity does not go through banks’ and shops’ burning and looting.