If that Gezi Park victim had not died

If that Gezi Park victim had not died

It was before we heard of the news that the documentary “Bakur” (North) was not going to be screened at the Istanbul Film Festival because of an absurd regulation.

It was before producers and directors decided to withdraw their films from the festival in order to protest the censure. 

It was Sunday morning when I went to the Atlas Cinema in Beyoğlu for the first screening of “Haziran Yangını” (June Fire), directed by Gürkan Hacır.

I was going to watch a story I knew the end of, the story of Ethem Sarısülük, a Gezi Park victim shot by police in Ankara.

My heart was going to ache again, I knew. I even cry when I watch “Game of Thrones.” When Khaleesi puts the iron collar on her dragon, I cannot gulp, even though neither Khaleesi nor dragons are real.
However, Ethem and what happened to him was real. What his family is going through is real.

We have not forgotten Gezi, nor have we forgotten the children who lost their lives there. We have not forgotten the cruelties, the evil statements.

However, one can forget what one has felt. The mechanism present in human beings that enables us to continue life does not discriminate between incidents; it may not delete the memory but it may delete the sentiments.

The first 10 minutes of “June Fire” shows the police violence. While I was watching the scenes, I realized the giant screen is like a scent. It is like a scent that suddenly takes you to the old days, to the sentiment of those days…  

As you are inhaling the scent of Gezi, you plunge into Ethem’s story in “June Fire.”

When you get to know his family, you are not surprised Ethem was who he was, and why he stood against injustice.

How many people do you know who do not delude themselves that there is a solution found for the system within the system; a person who has distracted himself from the material world? Have you met such a person?

Somebody who has left everything behind and started living in a shed he built himself in nature, a person who has not allowed one gram of hypocrisy in his life. Ethem’s father is such a person.

Ethem’s father, Muzaffer Sarısülük, has been bold enough to run after freedom. For this reason, he has been labelled “crazy” by those who think they are clever.

Actually, he has no “fault” other than being who he is. This order does not like such people.
As a matter of fact, because he wrote on the entrance of a policlinic, “Material medicine is evil,” a lawsuit was opened against him, asking for 12 years of imprisonment. The verdict was to send him to a high-security mental institution.

They must have found the loss of a son too little a punishment for him.

On the other hand, you look at the mother. She said, “If history was rewound, I would allow my son to join the demonstration again.” She is able to say that.

She says this, while every day for three years her heart has been bleeding. She can say that while she kisses the tip of her “Ethem” necklace every night before she goes to bed and every morning when she wakes up.

She has been watching justice not being served in those court rooms for months, while she dug her nails into her palms.

While her son’s killer has been sentenced to only seven years, nine months… Moreover, due to the incidents that happened outside the courthouse, she and her sons were asked for three-and-a-half year prison sentences for beating a defendant.

While her son is lacking in her life, she can still be the bigger person…

Ethem never had a girlfriend in his life. This was the saddest aspect for me, among all that was told in the documentary.

A child, a young man who grew up in poverty… He had to earn a living from an early age; he had not met the best color of life… He had not held anybody’s hand, had not kissed anybody. His heart had not beat for another.

While you watch him sing a folk song poignantly, you think:
He would have fallen in love so beautifully, Ethem, if he had lived…