‘Chaotic Turkey’ one year after Gezi

‘Chaotic Turkey’ one year after Gezi

There were 25 dead and 203 detentions. The excessive use of force by the police, dragging demonstrators on the ground and the detaining of the CNN International reporter on live broadcast; all contributing to Turkey’s international image falling from grace.

This is the shortest summary of the first anniversary of Gezi.

My childhood was spent at Taksim and Gezi Park. 

I was born in Taksim; I attended school there. I first met nature and trees at Gezi Park when my family frequently took me there, the trees which were about to be cut for the sake of building a mall.

I went to the movies and the theater, and even to the restaurant, for the first times in my life on İstiklal Avenue, the street which was exposed to intense tear gas last Saturday evening, May 31.

I have quite a strong emotional connection with Taksim. For this reason, I have been supporting the Taksim Solidarity (Taksim Dayanışması) from the beginning, which was formed in February 2012, to defend the city, starting from Taksim, and to make Istanbul residents have a say in the future of the city.  

In the press release of the Taksim Solidarity a few days before the anniversary, there was a very simple equation for those eyes that want to see and for those ears that want to hear.

The demand for “a healthy urbanization and a habitable city” united with the demand of millions of people in the country for more freedom and more democracy.

This demand spread around Turkey with the slogan “Everywhere Taksim, everywhere resistance.” The government somehow did not see or did not want to see this equation.

It took shelter in weird conspiracy theories and started searching for a “foreign finger” everywhere.

The 69-page “Gezi Movement” report prepared by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chair Professor Sencer Ayata and his team shed light to the identities of those who supported this movement.

Those who have participated in Gezi are predominantly students and wage earners where white collar workers make up the majority.

In the report, it was emphasized that every one of 10 demonstrators had a master’s degree or a Ph.D., more than half of them were university graduates.

As Professor Ayata said, the trunk of the activists was made up of the “higher educated white collars.”
As far as I know from my own academic friends and acquaintances, it is possible to say that the academia has supported this movement to a great extent.

We have seen how young Turkish scientists living abroad identify with Gezi with the question President Abdullah Gül encountered during a panel at Harvard.

The words of Dr. Emrah Altındiş, who works and studies at Harvard University as a medical specialist, “This is the anniversary of Gezi, when eight people died, when 90 people suffered from head trauma, when nine people lost their eyes and when thousands of people were suffocating from gas. Violence continues in Turkey. Are you not ashamed to head such a state? How do you sleep at night?” should be regarded as the revolt of a scientist before what is going on in his country.

I had an opportunity to chat with Associate Professor Özcan Sarıtaş during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Professor Sarıtaş continues his studies on the future in University of Moscow and Manchester Business School and he is constantly postponing his return to Turkey.

He said, “There is an atmosphere of uncertainty in Turkey where there are no definite standards, where laws are not much respected [for example, the right to assembly is a constitutional right] where solutions are found according to individuals. In other words, it is a chaotic environment.”

Gezi stands as if it is the only reality in this chaotic environment.