A letter from Istanbul. 6th of June 2013
Yesterday evening I went down to Beşiktaş. There was nothing happening, neither police presence nor protests. As I was walking towards Taksim, I noticed I was tired and got on a dolmus (a common form of transport in cities – a shared taxi) coming from Kadikoy.
Inside the dolmus, including myself there were eight people and a driver. The passengers were carrying bags and boxes, I asked what was inside and they said it was food and medical equipment for the Gezi Park. The bus driver drove nearly all the way into the park so that passengers would walk less with their heavy baggage. We got off and carried the boxes together to the park. In the entrance of the park there were a group of Çapulcu. They were cleaning up the rubbish in the park and putting them into bags which they would pass to each other along a chain in order to dispose of it in the rubbish containers. I got in this line to throw the rubbish until it was all disposed. One of the people in the group asked if there was a wet tissue. Many Çapulcus quickly found one.
Getting in the park looked easier if I climbed over an area where there were less people rather than to enter in the park where it was busier. As soon as I raised my hand, someone grabbed it and pulled me up. I thanked them and everyone smiled and patted me on the back, they said welcome.
When I began to walk forward, a group of people wearing Galatasaray and Fenerbahce Football Uniforms were shouting “Give way Çarşı are coming” (Çarsi is a Beşiktaş fan group which has been very active). Football fans of Beşiktaş, Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Bursa, Adana teams were all together chanting the Çarşı: “Shoot shoot, shoot your pepper gas, leave your truncheon, take of your gas mask and let’s see who the real man is”. All of Gezi Park were chanting this.
I stopped by at one of the occupy tents as I walked more into the park. There was a lot of food and it was all being handed out for free. “Do you need anything?” I asked, “no brother, maybe the medical help tent needs something, you can ask them” he replied. “Shall I buy you water?” I asked, “No brother, we have water” he replied. There was no greed, just solidarity, helpfulness and sharing. The road joining the Gezi Park and AKM (the Ataturk Cultural Centre) was blocked by a bus, the bus had no windows and doors. The bus that blocked the police had the words ‘LIBRARY’ written on it and young people were reading books inside. They were so engrossed with reading that it looked like they were going to eat the book.
I was happy. Everyone was happy. There was an incredible sense of solidarity that I have never seen before in my whole life. There were no scenes, or fights or even no assaults on our girls, I guess because none of the lack of 50% Tayyip supporters that Tayyip mentioned were there. There were people singing and dancing, (a revolution without dance is not a revolution).
I headed towards Gümüşsuyu, the pavement stones had been pulled off and used to make a roadblock. The writing on the wall showed the creativity of the Çapulcu’s. I walked towards İnönü Stadium with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. There was a group of about a 100 people sitting in the park opposite the stadium, they were cheering the people beeping their cars as they drove past in support. I continued onto Dolmabahçe. 38 police buses were parked 300metres down the road. I went towards the police, I thought, what are they going to do if I speak to them a little, I am a citizen, are they going to gas me too.
I couldn’t stop myself and I asked “My friend, why are you behaving like this to the people?” One of them responded “brother we didn’t do it, we just arrived but there are provocateurs also within the police.” I was shocked, how is that possible. “There are provocateurs within the people, you think they don’t exist in the police as well?” he said. One of them said, “Don’t worry brother none of the police here will gas the citizens.”
I continued walking, by the Kadikoy Pier in Beşiktaş, I came across a group of plain-clothes police with radios in their hands. They were all talking on their mobiles, I came closer and listened in on their conversations. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. They were saying how they were going to shoot and kill people and how they were going to enjoy this. I went nearer to them. I tried to talk to them but they showed me their sticks and told me to go away. I said “what’s this attitude my friend, is it because you have a radio. What’s your problem?” One of them ran towards me and tried to hit me but another policeman stopped him.
These are some of my observations from last night. I understood that the çapulcus have created unity, togetherness and solidarity from amongst themselves whilst the police have started to split from within. Just as the millions of people would like to believe, ‘people’s police’ is becoming no longer ‘Tayyip’s soldiers’.
Yes resist Turkey, I don’t know where this will go but I know the Turkish people have woken up. To see Besiktas and Bursali football supporters walk arm in arm, to see Socialists make way so the religious groups can pray, to see anti-government religious groups and how they shake hands at the end of the prayers, to see men, women, children, young, old coming together under one aim, has united me with my country even more. I love you all.