[Local] Television Kept Showing Miss Turkey And The ‘Strangest Cat In The World’


tear-gas-reutersThey get TV3 too?

What is happening in Turkey?

Sumandef Hakkinda, in Istanbul, writes

I am writing to let you know what is going on in Istanbul for the last five days. I personally have to write this because most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.

Four days ago a group of people most of whom did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park.

Among them there were many of my friends and students. Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city.

The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees.

Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation.

They did nothing other than standing in front of the machines.

No newspaper, no television channel was there to report the protest. It was a complete media black out.

But the police arrived with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray. They chased the crowds out of the park.

In the evening the number of protesters multiplied. So did the number of police forces around the park.

Meanwhile local government of Istanbul shut down all the ways leading up to Taksim square where the Gezi Park is located. The metro was shut down, ferries were cancelled, roads were blocked.

Yet more and more people made their way up to the center of the city by walking.

They came from all around Istanbul. They came from all different backgrounds, different ideologies, different religions. They all gathered to prevent the demolition of something bigger than the park:

The right to live as honorable citizens of this country.

They gathered and marched. Police chased them with pepper spray and tear gas and drove their tanks over people who offered the police food in return.

Two young people were run over by the Panzers [tanks] and were killed. Another young woman, a friend of mine, was hit in the head by one of the incoming tear gas canisters.

The police were shooting them straight into the crowd. After a three hour operation she is still in Intensive Care Unit and in very critical condition. As I write this we don’t know if she is going to make it. This blog is dedicated to her.

These people are my friends. They are my students, my relatives. They have no “hidden agenda” as the state likes to say. Their agenda is out there. It is very clear.

The whole country is being sold to corporations by the government, for the construction of malls, luxury condominiums, freeways, dams and nuclear plants. The government is looking for (and creating when necessary) any excuse to attack Syria against its people’s will.

On top of all that, the government control over its people’s personal lives has become unbearable as of late. The state, under its conservative agenda passed many laws and regulations concerning abortion, cesarean birth, sale and use of alcohol and even the color of lipstick worn by the airline stewardesses.

People who are marching to the center of Istanbul are demanding their right to live freely and receive justice, protection and respect from the State. They demand to be involved in the decision-making processes about the city they live in.

What they have received instead is excessive force and enormous amounts of tear gas shot straight into their faces. Three people lost their eyes.

Yet they still march. Hundred of thousands join them. Couple of more thousand passed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to support the people of Taksim.

No newspaper or TV channel was there to report the events. They were busy with broadcasting news about Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.

Police kept chasing people and spraying them with pepper spray to an extent that stray dogs and cats were poisoned and died by it.

Schools, hospitals and even 5 star hotels around Taksim Square opened their doors to the injured. Doctors filled the classrooms and hotel rooms to provide first aid. Some police officers refused to spray innocent people with tear gas and quit their jobs.

Around the square they placed jammers to prevent internet connection and 3g networks were blocked. Residents and businesses in the area provided free wireless network for the people on the streets. Restaurants offered food and water for free.

People in Ankara and İzmir gathered on the streets to support the resistance in Istanbul.

Mainstream media kept showing Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat in the world”.

I am writing this letter so that you know what is going on in Istanbul. Mass media will not tell you any of this. Not in my country at least. Please post as many as articles as you see on the Internet and spread the word.

As I was posting articles that explained what is happening in Istanbul on my Facebook page last night someone asked me the following question:

“What are you hoping to gain by complaining about our country to foreigners?”

This is my answer to her.

By so called “complaining” about my country I am hoping to gain:

Freedom of expression and speech,

Respect for human rights,

Control over the decisions I make concerning my on my body,

The right to legally congregate in any part of the city without being considered a terrorist.

But most of all by spreading the word to you, my friends who live in other parts of the world, I am hoping to get your awareness, support and help!

Please spread the word and share this blog.

What is Happening in Istanbul?  (Sumandef Hakkinda, İnsanlik Hali)

Turkey protests show no sign of letdown (CNN)

Previously: Meanwhile, In Istanbul

Pic: Reuters

Thanks D.E.W


35 thoughts on “[Local] Television Kept Showing Miss Turkey And The ‘Strangest Cat In The World’

  1. munkifisht

    The parallels with Ireland are quite shocking. Wonder how far we are away from this kind of state control.

    1. cluster

      I scrolled down expecting to see at least one comment along these lines. Hyperbole isn’t helpful in these situations.

  2. ffintii

    Yea but we here in Ireland had a property bubble to distract us.

    Go Turkey and also tell Erdogan to stop interfering with Syria.

    1. 21secondstogo

      About 20 or so Turkish guys gathered in Grogans pub on Saturday afternoon, for about 4 hours. They were dressed in Besiktas jerseys, singing songs, holding banners etc, and downing pints. It felt a bit odd to be honest. They should’ve been down on O’Connell street or something.

      1. paul

        that was after the demo at stephen’s green and they were in O’connell st on Sunday.

  3. irlandesa

    This is an account I have received on FB from an Irish citizen living in Ismir:

    Dear sir/madam,

    I am an İrish citizen living in Izmir. I have been trying to ring the Irish embassy in Ankara and the Irish Consulate in Izmir for the last hour this morning. Neither are picking up their phones. I am also copying this message to the Irish times newspaper.

    Last night as you know there were protests against the Turkish government in Izmir. I was out in one of the bars in the centre of İzmir in an area that was away from the protests. Eventually there was commotion on the street where the bar was. All the customers went inside but we still needed to cover their faces because of the strength of tear gas from the streets. When it got quieter we obviously declded to go home as quickly as possible. I work as a lecturer in Izmir Ekonomi Universitesi. I had been having a drink with one of the master students of the university and also a USA based artist who is doing an art project in Izmir at the moment.

    On our way home we needed to cross a street on which there were some police. We approached them very carefully making it clear that we were not protesters. As soon as they saw us they grabbed us very forcefully and pushed us against a wall. We explained who we were and what we were trying to do but they proceeded to treat us very badly. My student – a Turkish citizen – was pushed on the ground and beaten around his stomach and buttocks with batons. They then told him they were not interested in him and kicked him to the other side of the street where he was able to escape. However, they held my friend, a Canadian national with Chinese origins, and myself. I was initially pushed to the ground and beaten very severely around the legs for ‘ what I was doing’. We were then marched around the centre of Izmir for a further 2 hours as the police decided what to do with us – constantly pushing us and harassing us – along with a number of Turkish people that they had taken into custody. Eventually we got away by being friendly to one police officer who suddenly said ‘ just disappear up this street’. At that stage the police (including very ferocious riot police who had orıginaly detained and beaten us) were escorting probably over a hundred Turkish citizens to some unknown destination.

    This whole experience was very frightening, and also there were several aspects of it that were disturbing. As they walked around it was obvious that there were a number of people with the police who were carrying weapons and sticks but they were not police – merely nationalist thugs that were friendly with some police officers. Initially we thought they may have been plain clothes officers but were assured – by the testimony of other detainees and also the unrestrained behaviour of these individuals – that this was not the case.

    We were also aware throughout this experience that the police themselves were unaware of how they should behave but compensated – in some cases – by being as brutal as possible.

    I have lived in Turkey for 4 years now and have always known what a kind, gentle and hospitable people the Turkish are. To be treated myself, and to see them being treated so callously by the present government and the security forces employed by them has been very shocking.

    I hope that my interests as an Irish citizen will be wholeheartedly represented by you in you reaction to this government and that you will also wholeheartedly let it be known that you are appalled by how they are treating their own citizens.

    Thomas Keogh
    Lecturer Ekonomi Universitesi
    Balcova, İzmir

    1. wafflewaitress

      Holy shit. Will this make the Irish papers tomorrow I wonder?..Did it today actually?..haven’t seen them. Horrendous carry-on.

  4. Gearóid

    Where are the snide arseholes who were posting on the Istanbul thread a few days ago when this issue first arose?

    The ironic ones who took the time to post in order to register their apathy.

    1. VictorRomeo

      Probably down the George Bernard Shaw with their stupid ironic tee shirts and their stupid ironic beards moaning ironically at how the government are planning to screw up their packs of Camels or whatever those sorts of a$$holes smoke these days…

      1. cluster

        What makes you think that they are the sort of people who drink in the Bernard Shaw?

        If anything, I suspect they are more right-wing than that.

        1. Eliot Rosewater

          What makes you think the people who drink in the GBS aren’t right-wing?

          Just for the record, I have a couple of ‘ironic’ t-shirts (well, t-shirts that I assume the poster thinks are ironic, although what exactly would constitute an ‘ironic’ tshirt? A shirt with a picture of a t-shirt on it?) and was fully behind the protests even when they were just about keeping a green space in the centre of Istanbul. I am now even more fully behind the protests since they’ve widened what they’re about on where they occur.

          1. eoin_mclove

            i think that would me more alanis morrisette ironic. perhaps a man wearing nothing with a tattoo of a t-shirt? would that be ironic?
            irregardless, the shaw hasn’t been hipster for at least 2 years. it’s just full of pilled up college kids… i used to love that place (sad smiley face)

          2. cluster

            VictorRomeo suggested that the sort of person who slags off protests against a right of centre govt. in Turkey is likely to be found in the Bernard Shaw.

            The Bernard Shaw tends to attract a fairly young, college-educated or college-attending crowd and plays slightly alternative to the mainstream music. There is a loose correlation between each of these factors and the left of the political spectrum. Do you dispute this?

            I have no opinion on ‘ironic t-shirts’ so I’ll stay out of that one.

    2. Sido

      Why Gearoid ? – What are you going to say to these “snide arseholes” who took time to “register their apathy”?

      1. eoin_mclove

        but what cat doesn’t love auto asphyxiation!? ask my mate michael hutchence!… no, wait! actually ask my other mate david carradine. oh…

  5. James Russell

    Let’s help Turkey overthrow their government, because Egypt and Libya are now utopias after their liberation.

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