It was very early in the protests when I realized that no one was actually voicing their opinion. They weren’t clearly stating what they wanted. Obviously, much like Occupy Wall St., it was hard to do. The protests were growing around the country, but there was no clear leader. No one to make demands.
One morning I awoke to a message from a friend in Philadelphia. He told me he had given my name to a local Philadelphia paper. Well, that paper never contacted me for an interview. But just in case, I was prepared to relate what I learned from my friends.
The local news coverage was, and still is, very bad. Arrests were being made. Fines were being handed like water on a steaming hot day. News broadcasts were being interrupted. One station, Halk TV, broadcasted live footage all day long, every day, except when they were shut down from time to time. Unfortunately, many Turks either did not get that station, did not watch it, or refused to believe what they saw.
So I asked many Turks these three questions:
1- Why you believe this is happening?
- I believe this is happening because the society is not “asleep” anymore. It’s not a matter of a couple of trees. It’s a protest against a government who gives no say to it’s people. It’s a protest for democracy…
- I think what is happening right now is caused by a series of events which restricted civil rights. Prohibition of alcohol on certain areas, major urban changes without the consent of the majority, banning of art works are just some of them. The people are rioting because the government is abusing the power given by the uneducated mob, and the other half of the society is being excluded from every action being taken at the moment.
2- What you have physically seen yourself?
- Physically, I’ve had “pepper gas” and “pressured water” for dinner. I’ve a couple of bruises trying to run away from the police. Psychologically, I’ve –We’ve- been called a “drunkered” and a “freebooter” by the very prime minister of this country.
- Yesterday I saw peaceful protestors throughout the entire city but unfortunately police forces were forcing these people to abandon their spots by firing numerous gas bombs. Also I have heard a lot of protestors witnessing police brutality. These incidents are obviously igniting more and more people and riots are growing every day.
3- What specifically do you want to see changed.
- My only wish is that hopefully one day soon Erdoğan “hears” the poeple protesting
- Basically I want the current government to resign and I wish to go to polls at an earlier than foreseen. The reason behind this demand is that I believe the majority of the people do not want the current government to be in the office which has the majority of the voting power in the parliament, and secondly I believe a new election will definitely help civil rights to be improved in the future.
- I want a better future for my children.
One person did not directly answer my questions, but rather wrote,
Prof. Dr. Ahmet İnsel clearly states what this protest is about. He says: This is a dignity uprising. This is not a protest against AKP, AKP voters or government. This is a protest against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who constantly insults, ignores and crushes its nation especially the half of the nation who did not vote for him.
I personally definitely agree.
He teaches economy. He is graduated from eğitimini Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University and got his phd in the same university. In 1994-1999 he worked as the rector of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University . He also worked in the Galatasaray University, as the head of the economy department. Between 2007-2012. Now he is the editör of the Birikim magazine and also writing articles there. He also writes in Radikal 2 (newspaper) on Sundays.
Sadly, although I asked many these questions, these were the few to offer a clear response. To be fair, I did get updates by many via Facebook, but most often it was a repost of what someone else had shared, rather than what they were actually experiencing.
I remain very proud of all of them though, those who went out to the parks and the streets every night, in the face of gas, hosed with water, and fearing brutality.