I was in Istanbul when it all started. I was safely tucked away on an island, and really didn’t know what was going on. Friends started to share translations of news reports and videos. At the time, I was amazed by it all. I didn’t have a full comprehension, I probably still don’t. But when I flew home to Ankara, it really all started to hit me. I was in fact afraid that first night.
Below are my Facebook posts from that first days back in Ankara:
June 2 –
- Finally made it home from Istanbul. Protesters everywhere. Had to walk home from the office with my suitcase. The Turkish Spring. Cankaya is amazing right now. Oh yeah, and I didn’t get tear gassed, but it’s definitely in the air!!!
- Roads are all blocked with protesters. Turkish flags. banging pots and pans and ringing bells. traffic. horns blaring. nuts! And people have their kids out there! My house smells like tear gas!
A video from You Tube from this same night in Ankara. I believe this neighborhood is a good 15 minute drive from where the main protests were. That’s without traffic. No one was getting through easily at this time:
- They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
- Protests just hit my neighborhood — again!!
I remember strong feelings of bewilderment, energy, fear, strength. The streets were full. Pots and pans banging. That first night back in Ankara, I just didn’t know what to think.
For a third day, police, protesters clash in Turkey, CNN
My last share on this first night was a re-posting of where to go for medical emergency help in Ankara.
I really have no idea what it’s all about. I know very little Turkish at this point, and my husband is crazy about Erdogan, claiming he is doing everything for the people and not robbing the banks, etc. Is he a dictator? I have been wondering that myself, even with my limited knowledge of what’s going on. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I’m not going out there and protesting, but where I am now seems to be filled with anti-Erdogan people.
The difficulty with Turkish politics is the ‘winner takes all’ mentality. Erdogan is the most popular leader in decades and has real support. But, genuine democracy isn’t just about winning at the ballot box. It’s about compromise, flexibility, pluralism and acceptance of difference. These aren’t attributes that spring to mind when thinking of Erdogan.