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Friday, 28 June 2013 10:38

EVERY DAY I’M CHAPULLING!

Facing tear gas and water cannons, Istanbul's youth gets creative over the Gezi Park events.

wallwritings_small
Photo: Julia Schulte
Anti-Erdogan slogans on walls

Recently, Istanbul's biggest Open Air Festival took place. For six days, young people turned the city's main square into a party area. There was camping, there were concerts and discussions. Families with young children joined as well as tourists, who took pictures on barricades and demolished cars, turning a revolution into a fun park site. The mobile traders, always business-minded, sold grilled fish and köfte, sesami rings, tea, coffee, water – and also diving goggles and simple face masks against gas attacks. You could get Turkish flags and Guy Falkes masks. The square was overcrowded during the day but even at about 4.30 am, when the Muezzin chants for the first time, you'd find people wandering around, chatting, eating. Also, someone always had to guard the barricades and claim territory by spraying new slogans on walls and streets. Starting with 'Tayyip istifa' (Tayyip resign) and 'Her yer Taksim' (Taksim is everywhere), people got more and more creative.

Published in Contentious Europe
Tuesday, 18 June 2013 09:00

A week of clearing up Taksim

What started as a protest against the tearing down of a park and quickly became a nationwide uprising of Turkish youth is now brutally being cleared by the police.

After a weekend with a festival atmosphere at Taksim Square, the big hangover comes on a Tuesday. Clearing Gezi is a three step operation: very early in the morning on the 11th of June, the police start removing the barricades the protesters have built line by line in every street leading to the square. Soon Taksim is crowded again. I am told not to leave the house in Cihangir all day in order to stay safe. In the early evening I go out to get some food – and instead get my first load of teargas even though I'm one kilometre away from the main square. All night there are little explosions in the streets. Those who don't join the protests shut the windows to protect themselves from the gas and keep the curtains closed to avoid police spies. Anxiously, people follow Twitter posts, Facebook, and live cams of Taksim. At 1.30 am the noise grows louder: people flee down side streets, wait, rearrange their masks and goggles and run back. Until early morning you can anticipate the noise of the police attacks. After this night I flee to the suburbs.

Published in Contentious Europe

Over the past weeks Turkey has seen a great number of street protests and demonstrations in its biggest cities, from Istanbul to Ankara, Izmir and Antalya. Starting from a small demonstration the protests have grown significantly in size and structure with passing days and have been violently repressed by the police force according to sources on the scene. E&M author Siri Warrlich interviews a young European who has experienced the incidents in Istanbul at first hand.

Two years ago Heidi Hart came as an Erasmus student to Istanbul. Today, she still lives there – and since last weekend, a mask and swimming goggles belong to her everyday attire.

The house was completely contaminated with tear gas, so I am now staying with friends.

"İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı. I listen to Istanbul with my eyes closed.“ That is the first line of a famous poem by Orhan Veli Kanik, Turkey's Shakespeare. Istanbul on Wednesday night, 5 June 2013, not with closed eyes, but via skype, sounds like this: Cars honking, singing, whistling… are those cooking pots the people are banging against each other? My friend Heidi Hart, 24, holds her computer through the open window. "Soon, I will join them," she says and shows me her mask and swimming goggles. A little more than two years ago, the two of us together started our Erasmus journey from Mannheim, Germany to Istanbul. Heidi stayed – and recently became part of the protests.

Published in Contentious Europe
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