Letter from Taksim – 3

6 June 2013


On Tuesday after writing to you I went straight to the Park and I immediately realised something had changed. Thousands had descended on the Square and an astonishing atmosphere of joy and surprise inhabited Gezi Park. It’s been like this day and night and it’s absolutely amazing.

Today another wave of confusion and stories of violence from around the country has engulfed us into some sadness… but first I must tell you about the Park!

Police withdrew from Taksim Square and instantly Gezi Park has been turned into a festival of solidarity, equality, peaceful co-existence, creativity and diversity. People have said it’s a massive Speaker’s Corner, a Freetown, Peace Festival, an Occupy movement or a Commune.

As I sat down to write to you, I’m dizzy trying to remember which words are mine and which are others’. Does it matter? Just now we seem to agree on a lot of things and I’m happy to exchange words, speeches and my voice with just about anybody on that square.

I’ve spent my time simply drifting around the Park, sometimes watching a piece of modern dance or doing a folk dance myself or listening to an impromptu orchestra or talking to strangers but mostly just looking at each other. Looking into each other’s eyes in wonder at our mutual respect and at how we can speak out and listen and not fight. For me this is about speaking out and not be scared to say things.

I went around the square trying to make a list of all the various group/NGO/political parties’ that have representatives there. Perhaps it’s a silly exercise but i felt happy like a child doing it and I counted 54. Haha!

My friend said “Now count everybody’s thoughts and feelings that have no representative but themselves!”

“OK” I said, always up for a challenge. So I went back out talking to people and pretty soon lost count. All one could overhear was “How amazing that we are together” “This is so special” “We should always be like this” I was occasionally bumping into old friends or acquaintances and listened to their stories of how they were at the front of the thousands of people trying to get up to Taksim Square either form Istiklal or Siraselviler whilst being attacked by police teargas or water cannons.

Two friends gave me first-hand accounts of how a bunch of people would be at the front, get their eyes and face burning because of teargas, retreat back to recover whilst another bunch would move forward to hold the front against slowly retreating police. Once the volunteer medics helped the injured gain their energy they would go back to the front for another round.

All the stories say the same thing: This is ours to share! Yet I cannot help but think I am a little high. And sure enough when I sit on the computer to check tweets or news there’s plenty to calm me down.

A tweet this morning: “i couldn’t sleep all night. they’ve been attacking people in Rize and Ankara. I feel like if i go to sleep they’ll know no one is watching and then there’s nothing to stop them. It’s been 10 days of violence and not a single one of them is prosecuted or punished.”

Without the media there anything could happen and nobody find out about it. We only have each other. And so twitter and Facebook are going crazy with an abundance of news and photos and videos of joy, humour and violence… a wild need to communicate, to be in touch.

We only have each other and Gezi Park is the proof that when together we are more than ok… we are creative, generous and productive! And when we know we are heard or seen we feel a little more secure. When I mention to people that the actors’ union in the UK have emailed me and they are supporting us, I can see it in their eyes that they feel stronger.

Still there’s a great deal of uncertainty and the government has not done anything concrete to acknowledge the pain but only the contrary so far. Fear that there could be retaliation or renewed attacks still present. People are saying: “Could that 1 million Erdogan talks about come out?” “How will this end?”

The best answer we have so far is to write, share and be there! So everyone is aware that something special is happening here but we’re still focused on the protest and on supporting those around the country still subject to violence by the authorities.

It feels surreal but I’ll be going back to my TV shoot about gangsters, terrorists and SAS soldiers tomorrow. I’ll be shooting guns and killing people but it’ll be the fight on twitter and Facebook that I’ll have in mind :))

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