Tag Archives: Istanbul

Politics and Love in Turkey

This is something strange. It’s something I’m not sure I understand nor if I want to understand. It’s something so deeply rooted it’s even quite worrying. And it even might be fucked up. But at the same time it might just be me reacting on the cultural chock I’m living through since moving to Istanbul.

In Turkish society even the people calling themselves a-political are very much political. Everybody has an opinion on what is happening. Everybody. No exception possible. It either be a nationalistic (many), either anarchistic (very few) or leftish (very few as well). It’s incredible as people are opinionated. To the very extreme. It’s either you’re in favor or you’re against something and with that that very person who stand for those idea’s. It’s very much black or white. There seems no existence of the color gray. No fucking way.

And people are not afraid to come out and talk about their opinions. About their ideology. Not afraid at all. There’s so much openness about it it might be impossible to comprehend. But it seems that this goes hand in hand with the polarization between ideologies. Between black and white.

This makes it very strange that in a different part of people all is hidden. The part that isn’t politics but is our personal emotional behavior. And when I write hidden I actually mean Hidden. Completely covered up. Non accessible. Not at all.

It’s like people are too afraid to describe, to even talk or think about what is going on inside them. What they are feeling. What they are experiencing. That is something that is not in accordance with that crazy openness about everything that is political.

It makes one wonder how complete this society or even an individual is when there’s only polarization on the political level of life and there is no talk of what is going on in our heart. Can this then really be a society where respect and love is present? When there’s so little of that respect and love for each other actually shown between individuals? Or maybe it’s all about politics here. Nothing about love. Nothing about the heart.

Ego – So I am, We Are

There’s much to say about ego’s.
Of course it ain’t bad to have an ego. It is good to have a sense of self being, a sense of self preservation. It is good to know the person you are and what you can achieve. It is even necessary to live in today’s world. To be yourself. Completely
But pretending to be something you’re not. To not know who you are. To not self-reflect. To not know your limitations. To not think of others. To not take into consideration that part or whole of society you ‘re a part of.
Well. To say the least. That just ain’t healthy.
Not for you. Nor for whatever you’re a part of.

And of course it takes a heavy load to take these things into account. But isn’t all this the right thing to do when you want to live the life as a complete human being? Or is it that much better to live in a reality that just isn’t that.
As it is what seems. Not what is.
And what is might be the thing that is needed to be acknowledged for whatever we consider utopia to become true reality.

I think I might need a new brain

Following conversation happened after friends of mine, visiting Istanbul, went to a Turkish bath (also known as hamam).

me: So how was the hamam?

other person: very good, except for the people having sex a bit further in the common room.

me: what y’all went to a male – female mixed hamam?

other other person: no. you know there’s also something like men having sex with each other?

me: ow. right.

IMF defol

On the 6th and 7th of October the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had their annual meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. They discussed changes to be made in the structures and priorities in their core being. Something that was also discussed during the G20 summit held earlier in Pittsburgh, USA.
Whilst so-called world and financial leaders were gathering in the Congress Valley thousands were marching and protesting against them.
Ironically just as Turkeys Prime Minister opened the IMF’s and WB’s meeting addressing change and stating that this new world order also had to listen to the protesters outside his police forces gassed the non-violent and peaceful protest with tear gas.
It was clearly a contradiction between acts and words by a neo-liberal and neo-conservative prime minister trying to shatter every bit of leftish and progressive politics that was left in the nation state that is the Turkish Republic.

But worse than this contradiction is the complete and utter manipulation of the media that was followed after the severe attack on protesters and innocent people on the 6th of October on Taksim Square. The media was sold the story that the police only gassed the protesters on Taksim Square after they provoked the police and ‘leftish groups’ or ‘ civil society groups’ started throwing molotov cocktails. Witch was a complete lie.

It is true that groups of protesters were in a something that resembled a guerilla war with the police. But this only happened after the attack of the police on Taksim Square. Nobody of the protesters on the square was expecting such a brutal attack by the police. We were barely recovering from the happiness of being on Taksim Square, since after the riots of 1979 no political or activist group was allowed to protest on the square itself. And then it happened.
It was clear that the police waited till all the protesters groups arrived on Taksim Square to throw Tear gas bombs into the people. This was so shocking that some protesters have indeed reacted in a violent manner by throwing molotov cocktails and trying to destroy the banks that were located in the main shopping street of Istanbul, Istiklal. But remaining non-violent was not helped by the word on the street that right wing groups were hunting down protesters who fled Taksim after the tear gas attack nor the brutal and violent behavior of the police by randomly arresting and beating people in the streets surrounding Taksim and Istiklal. For hours that area resembled a war zone with activist fleeing, the police shooting tear gas and then beating the people they came across as every person on the streets was perceived as an activist.

Brutal force and violence was executed by both the police and the right wing groups who came to help the police. And this was only the first day. The second day of the IMF and WB meeting things were not better. Protests were provoked and activist were intimidated. With the outcome that again in certain parts of Istanbul riots broke loose. The protests that remained non-violent were under great stress from the police forces as no effort was spared to try and get them to act violent as well.

It is pure irony that as such the real criminals of this world, the cause of todays economical and ecological crisis were inside the Congress Valley, protected by the police force. This whilst they who were protesting the imperial policies of the IMF and WB, the suffering they have caused in the Global South, the adaptation to a global capitalist economy of countries that didn’t need it in the first place, was battered in such a manner. It is also a clear example of how this supposedly New World Order wants to continue. They want to continue on the path of richness for few and poverty for many forgetting any kind of humanity and even the Millennium Goals they themselves signed not so many years ago. I’ve only got one word for this; hypocrisy.

And that’s just what it is. Hypocrisy. The IMF and the WB want to be perceived as democratic entities that do good for the global community and countries that struggle with their economies. But in reality they are just a means for oppression. By the hands of neo-liberal economy. But also by taking away participation, ignoring civil society, oppressing different voices, etc..
It’s the economy stupid. For wealth and well being of few.

Resistanbul 06.10.09

Nuts! That’s the only word I have to describe this day.
What started out as a very pleasant day. Accompanied by a great samba band the group of direnistanbul marched from Tünel square over Istiklal to Taksim square. The march in itself was very amusing as we sang songs, danced and had a great time. Till we came on Taksim Square.

We expected large police barricades preventing us to enter Taksim square. But the square was completely free to enter. Many groups had already entered the square and were listening to speeches of unions. The moment we, the direnistanbul group, entered the square we were the last to enter.
And hell broke loose. The police sealed the square off whilst not only activists were on the square but also normal citizens who expected nothing of such kind. There was even traffic still circulating.

Teargas coming from everywhere and going everywhere. It was the most terrifying moment in my life. Complete chaos. People running without seeing where. People panicking as they couldn’t breath. For a moment I was quite sure i was gonna die. The first time i’ve ever encountered a gas attack. Brutal. I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t breath. My lungs were on fire. My nose was burning. My skin was fired up. I was in pain. Terrible pain. I lost my friends. I felt lost. People were stumbling over me. Panic. The mere thought that this could happen to a non-violent protest was a shock. And i’m still in shock.

In this shock i stumbled off the square as soon as the massive gas cloud was blown away by the wind and my eyesight minimally returned. I called friends as I felt lost and the police was charging in on the activists.
The sight was terrible. People in pain everywhere. And the feeling was pain as well.

Finally we managed to regroup with some friends and made a run for it. We ran for safety. We ran away from more teargas and violent police that was charging with their sticks and guns. After taking many detours and scary moments we arrived to safety in the Green House.

For hours after the attack on Taksim the whole neighborhood looked like a warzone. Police charging everywhere. Teargas everywhere. The black block anarchist were fighting back. Citizens who didn’t even know what the IMF was got trapped in between. In clouds of teargas. Horrible sightings. Horrible.

News was coming in from everywhere. Twitter was on fire. Text messages kept coming. Phone calls followed. Tanks were suddenly appearing. News of arrests. News of extreme right groups in search of activists to beat up. Police that was beating bystanders taking pictures. A war going on Istiklal. Friends getting arrested.
And that vicious smell of teargas everywhere. Nuts.

The few times I left the Green House to see what was happening left me in a bigger shock. All the news was true. There was violence everywhere. The police state was a reality. Freedom of thought and voicing of an opinion was not permitted. Freaky. Scary.

This is not even close to what could resemble a democracy. This was pure injustice. And out and about. No boundaries. Pure violence. Pure oppression.

I’m not sure if i’ll ever get out this shock. I’m still trembling. My stomach hurts. My skin still burns. My head hurts. My bruises ache. My eyes are swollen. And this hours and hours after the attack.
I’m trashed. Shattered even.

DirenIstanbul/ResIstanbul 04.10.09

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All tough  some very stupid and biased Dutch television journalist stated at the beginning of the protest that with Turkey being heavily hit by the economic crisis one would expect thousands on the streets to march against capitalism, waving at only 20 people assembled, it turned out a great march with around 200 to 250  protesters.

The protest in itself lasted nearly 2 hours. Marching from Tünel Square over Istiklal till Taksim Square whilst shouting slogans and singing songs. Accompanied by a samba band the mood was great. The reactions from the crowd that was walking through Istiklal was equally great. Fantastic even. Many people cheered and even joined the march. The efforts from the Revolutionary Clowns Army to clean up Istiklal from consumerism and multi-nationals gathered also a great deal of attention.

As was expected the police stayed out of sight when the protesters were marching through Istiklal and were waiting at Taksim Square. As has been for decades, also now protesters were not allowed to enter the Square. Even tough many Turkey based multi-nationals and even football hooligans are allowed to use the square for their celebrations or advertisement no political or non-governmental organisations has had that privilege for over 30 years. A sad and undemocratic fact underlining that no one is truly free in this country. Oppression is just around the corner. Over and over again. And it was proven by the reaction of the police yet again.

As there was a small police corridor blocking the protesters from going up to Taksim Square they continued to play music, sing songs and shout slogans. And as the Samba band retreated for a moment to decide what to do next people continued singing and shouting. Since the police still had not closed the protesters in completely the samba band decided to just walk around them and show up behind the police corridor and that action was soon followed by many. And then it started.

The Police was totallt not prepared for such an action. Luckily for direnistanbul. But acted quickly and formed a new police corridor still not allowing protesters to go on the Square itself. Whilst the samba band continued playing people started dancing against the corridor and trying to push the police for an opening to the square. The Revolutionary Clowns Army declared their love to men in uniform. But nothing could warm the hearts of the apparatus. The police even grew colder and were provoking by pushing protesters with shield and bats back to Istiklal, Only to forget that they were creating a vacuum where yet again the samba band jumped in. Unfortunately the police then decided it was time for teargas. As soon as the flasks were seen by the protesters they backed down. But still continuing to play music, dance and sing. Continuing. Till they were again on Istiklal street.

This was as such only the second manifestation of a whole week of actions against the meeting of the IMF and the Worldbank on the 7th and 8th of October. Many more will come. And many more people will be present. But already the protesters know; the police, my friend, is not your friend. So who knows what will give.

Hüzün

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It’s not really something you could explain. Many have called it being in love with sadness. Or Melancholic. Or weariness. Or whatever. It is an emotional state where as such rationality should not be.  Reasoning is out of the question. Totally. If one would try to understand this what is a feeling, then they would get lost in words. As it is not explainable. No. It isn’t. One can only poor a fragment of what one feels into words. We can only try.

The feeling in itself is something I’ve been obsessing on for weeks now. The word itself was brought up in the middle of the night while drinking Raki. Obviously. But the emotions itself were not strange to me. But the reassurance that this is rather a collective feeling than an individual one was quite positive. One shouldn’t put it a box of her/his category of craziness or depressives. It is sadness where you are feeling happy about. It’s human. It’s emotionales. Understanding is a big no-no.

Let if be and feel. FEEL!