Walking for rights, law and justice
June 23 was the ninth day of the “justice march.” I arrived in Yeniçağa, a district of the Central Anatolian province of Bolu, in the morning, got out of the vehicle and joined the march in the middle of the marchers. It was a very warm day with no wind. While the heat reflecting from the asphalt roasted our faces, some people were pouring water down their heads. Some of the marchers were fasting.
I approached the first woman I saw and asked her why she was walking. Pınar Ayhan told me she was walking for “arts.” She said every step of the march reminded them of what we have lost. “Our husbands are looking after the children. We are walking for them too,” she added.
I walked past a group chanting the international anthem for socialists. People were taking pictures on balconies; taxi drivers were waving at us from their taxi stop. İsmail Yalçın, a marcher who joined the walk from İzmir said, “I am walking for justice, for our grandchildren, for their future. It does not matter left or right, justice is needed for everyone.”
Then I came across a band playing “Bella Ciao.” The marchers stopped for a while, joined the tempo and marched on.
Another marcher, 56-year-old Kemal Kaplan, said, “When I eat half a kilo of meat, my body rejects it. It really does not matter if I live two more or two less days. I am walking for my grandchild. This is the last hope, maybe somethings will change.”
I heard some marchers joking. One was asking, “What you have cannot be called a belly.” The other responded, “Oh, I did have belly fat, but it is gone now.”
Eleven-year-old Emir Ali Samandağ is walking with his father. “Justice and equality are essential also for children,” he said.
Yet another marcher, Engin Uç, said he was lagging behind his friends because he was old. They joined the march as the “Çaycuma Platform.” “We have been losing cases for the past year even though we are right. We are suffering. Our forests are being opened to development. Two-storey houses are being demolished to be replaced by 30-storey buildings. Jurists are after profits. We are walking to prevent unlawfulness,” Uç said.
This is a silent march. Except for a couple of songs, there is no noise. The only voice I heard was chanting “rights,” “law,” and “justice.”
While people were walking, they were chatting about daily life; for instance, complaining about how hard it is to make children eat vegetables.
I came across three retired workers who were collecting plastic bottles: Malik Bilir, Yakup Polat and Ali Doğru, the last one was walking with slippers because his feet were swollen. They all called for “justice for nature.” They all say they are walking for their children and grandchildren. They met at Ankara’s Güvenpark and became friends. Bilir’s shoes developed holes. He said because they were in rural areas he could not buy a new pair. “But I will continue walking no matter what,” he added.
When I asked them whether the march proceeded peacefully, they told me that a car drove past them the other day with people calling them “traitors.” They said they waved at them.
Polat said they were walking for media workers, not distinguishing any paper from the other. “Be it daily Türkiye or daily Yeni Şafak. We love them all and insult none of them,” one said.
Shopkeeper Hıdır Aydur said he closed his market nine days ago. He was walking for the teachers Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça who are on a hunger strike. The 66-year-old Cevat Büyükkırlı said he was walking because he was concerned for the future of his grandchildren.
General practitioner 25-year-old Emre Yorgancıgil said he was walking to indicate which side he was on “in the fight for human rights and justice in a country whose route has derailed from the journey to civilization.” A woman commented, “How happy we are when we see such young people.”
Marcher Sami Balcı mentioned past murders who were unresolved and said that in a society whose past is dark, justice would not be established in the future either.
One of the victims of the state of emergency decrees, İsmet Akyol, joined the march with 40 other colleagues. “Even those who bombed the parliament have appeared before a judge, we teachers don’t even know what we are accused of,” they said.
As far as I have seen, people who think they have been subject to injustice, who believe justice has been imprisoned, who think the justice system has deteriorated, who are concerned with the future, people who love their countries are walking this route.
They are walking in silence, with serenity, with hope and in peace…