Istanbul, Turkey. June 2013 • a retrospective •
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The report is the result of my extensive field work over the situation arise in Turkey, and specifically in Istanbul. Through my investigation I have visited, discussed & documented the situation all over Taksim Sq. as well as in several neighborhoods of the city, focusing specifically in two different quarters inhabited maily by working class people.
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.
The first is 'Ok Meydani' quarter. People participate at a battle for freedom, for a true, contemporary and democratic society. Kurds, Turks, Alevis, they all come together banging pots…making noise. Turkey has suffered greatly from polarization along cultural lines. The pacifier of nationalism and racial hatred that put people to sleep for all those years, have ended. United they demonstrate.
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.
For once more, I say farewell to the beloved “city”, with a smile and many fears for the future of this country. I am leaving filled with optimism for the citizens of this country and the democracy lessons given and received.
If the message and demand for true freedom is clear, then so is the danger for Kemalism and hard core followers of “yesterday”. They weren’t dominating but their presence was more than obvious. If we take in consideration the lack of experience of the Turks in demonstrations and “changes”, this danger is existent.
Resistance in one way or another will continue due to the intolerance shown by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The need for the people is to gather around something organized in order to have rigid results, since there is no substantial and capable opposition to the existing regime of Erdogan.