Of course we are full of pride for Gezi

Of course we are full of pride for Gezi

Foreign Minister Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu has mentioned Istanbul’s Gezi Park protests as a matter of praise during a conference he gave the other day at one of Washington’s most prestigious think tanks, The Brookings Institution.

He started with these words: “You can compare the right to demonstrate in Turkey, for example Gezi Park, only with countries in Europe, not with countries in the Middle East.” 

He added, “Any wrongdoings can be handled within the framework of the law, but nobody can compare Turkey to countries where there is no freedom of the press, no freedom of assembly or where there are no fair and free elections. We are proud that these demonstrations in Turkey are similar to those in Europe.” 

When I read this story, I wondered how Berkin’s parents would receive these words from the foreign minister. 

I am talking about 15-year-old Berkin Elvan who has been in a coma for five months because a tear gas capsule fired by the police hit his head on June 16, after the Gezi incidents erupted. He was operated on one week ago for the fourth time because of the edema that has formed in his head. 

His father, Sami Elvan, talked to columnist Ahmet Hakan recently and said, “Berkin’s respiratory system is failing. His muscles are weak, he has lost weight. The doctors are hopeful. We also do not want to lose our hope. He cannot talk but we hope that he understands when we talk to him. May Allah allow no one to go through this pain. His school friends visited the other day; it made us very happy that they came. I have not received a ‘get well soon’ message from any official person up until now.” 

Most probably, Berkin’s parents are sharing the pride Davutoğlu has referred to in Washington. 

Yes, the bodies of the young people who have lost their lives during these demonstrations have also added value to Turkey’s pride; even though an official condolence message has been denied after their funerals…

And indeed, it is especially an occasion of honor alone, for all of us, the entire nation, that Ali İsmail Korkmaz was beaten to death with sticks in the central Anatolian city of Eskişehir following the Gezi Park incidents by a group that even included a police officer. 

By all measures, Gezi Park is an ultimate picture of pride for Turkey in the year 2013. In this picture, it is not only the dead included, but also the victimization of thousands of people who were injured from being hit by police batons, who have been short of breath because of the tear gas sprayed on their faces, whose lives have been endangered. How about those who have lost their eyes, or would you like to take a look at those who have had a part of their skulls or testicles removed? 

And, no doubt, those demonstrators who have been arrested during the demonstrations and have been counting their days in jail ever since, are the live witnesses of this major honor. 

Also, the investigations that are expanding wave by wave against the demonstrators, the multi-defendant mass lawsuits that are being opened one after another, do deserve exceptional credit in this same high honor record. I am not counting the academia and academic assistants who have had investigations opened against them after a rush of tip-offs at universities. Let’s not forget to hand it to the high school principals and teachers who share the same fate. 

It is also not possible to regard the investigations launched in private-sector companies as anything more than an effort of the routine and honorable execution of the state’s monitoring duty. 

Probably, the television serials that have been taken off the air because their actors were seen in Taksim Gezi Park have been subject to the aforementioned practices so that this picture of pride is crowned in the eyes of the public. 

Also, our privately owned theater companies, the state funding of which has been withdrawn on similar grounds, have been granted a special award in arts. 

It is beyond doubt that our journalist colleagues who have lost their jobs because they supported Gezi, or moreover, because they only posted tweets in solidarity, are receiving their own plentiful share of the same pride. 

Nevertheless, everything is happening exactly the same as it happens in Europe. For this reason, is it possible not to take pride in everything that is going on? What? Did you expect us to be like the Middle East? 

Sedat Ergin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Nov 20. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.