Kadikoy is the old centre of the Asian side of Istanbul. Only in the recent years it has attracted the attention of tourists with its narrow streets, antique shops, cafes, and food shops just a few hundred meters away from the seaside and the ferry ports. Until then, it was a relatively quiet city centre for the residents alone – where one went to buy things that couldn’t be found in the smaller neighbourhoods of the Asian side. Those from the European side hardly went there. It was the commercial centre of the more residential, greener, cleaner, quieter Asian side of the city.
To my child and teenage self, Kadikoy was the part of the big city that had the brightest lights as I lived further east on the Asian side. One of my most vivid childhood memories is being taken there to visit the first shopping centre to ride the elevator for the first time in my life. It was the first elevator my generation of Asian-side kids ever rode. Years later I went back, it’s too small to be even called a ‘proper’ elevator but then it was enormous. Ironic that my first vivid memory is related to a shopping centre, given that the number and size of shopping centres in the city have been the last straw and sparked resistance in the country. But what’s called a ‘shopping centre’ then was still of human proportions, with small independent shops whose keepers you got to know and who knew their trade inside out.
It is also because of this that last night’s police violence in Kadikoy is all the more upsetting for me – a personal view I know. Since May, there have been protests in Kadikoy and even a festival to honour the protests. None involved violence – until last night, when police attacked the people who came out onto the streets to protest the 6th death of the resistance, Ahmet Atakan, who died in Antakya the day before. The reports about his death said he fell from a building. I could not find an official explanation for the fall but there have been reports that his head was hit by a tear gas canister.
There were at least two more people who were hit on the head by tear gas canisters last night – despite all those who have died, lost their eyes and sustained severe injuries including 14 year of Berkin who has been in a coma for more than 3 months as a result of police directly targetting people .
Police attacks in Kadikoy may also signal a strategic move that’s is even more worrying – it’s a quieter, less openly political part of the city, its council has been run by CHP (the Republican People’s Party) for a long time and the population is more centre/left leaning. Kadikoy is also less easy to block from incoming crowds than Taksim, having lots of routes leading to it – creating the potential for violence to spread more widely. Their strategy may be to increase the division between ‘us’ and ‘them’, reducing the opportunities where the whole of society can feel common joy or sorrow. One sign of this division is the countless tweets last night that announced that Surreyya Opera House (which used to be a cinema where I saw Top Gun! – especially women of my generation will know how significant a memory that is) and Kadikoy Municipality had opened their doors to shelter protesters. My memories are not important, but one part of a state (municipality) sheltering people from the violence committed by another part of a state (police) is really worrying.
I am too sad about last night’s developments and what the future will bring, too worried about more violence, more death, more cracks in society’s fabric to report from a published source. Published articles are cold, today, factually correct but devoid of the emotions of a once-local resident of Kadikoy. Forgive me for the lack of references for this post.
And…as I write this, people are gathering again in Kadikoy, in Bursa and I suppose other places I have not seen tweets about and of course police forces are on the move too…
Here is a link to a video someone made of last night: http://vimeo.com/74260542
@0:55 the graffitti ‘Katil Polis’ means ‘Murderer Police’
@ 1:47: they read the names of those who died during the resistance and the crowd chant back ‘Alive’
@ 2:20: they chant “martyrs of revolution are immortal”
- Turkey continue resisting…This time is for Ahmet (translatingtaksim.wordpress.com)