Don’t let the Turkish government get away with this

I remember Istanbul.  Just two years ago – wandering around lost, random people took extraordinary trouble to help me sort it all out – looking up their phones, ringing the hotel, buying a bus ticket, walking with me through the maze of narrow streets.

Walking home in the dark through the old city, I never felt in danger.  Once a guy sitting on his porch with a couple of friends stopped me with the usual ‘Speak English? Where you from?’.  I patted his cat, chatted to the friends (male and female), got invited to a party.

Turkey is not the Middle East. No looming men in white robes and black beards looking down their noses.  No scary laws against holding hands or drinking beer.  No autocratic, theocratic government breathing down the necks of its people.  And yet….

The Turkish government has just squashed a peaceful protest in Istanbul with horrific force, killing several people and critically injuring hundreds.  Gas bombs in locked metro subways.  People blinded by tear gas.  Apparently, no Turkish news outlet has been allowed to report it.  For more details, see Neil Garman’s moving post.

So please share if you can and if you want to.



    1. Thanks Yes, I feel it’s awful for what has been a relatively moderate, democratic country (not counting, as perhaps I should have, the horrible Armenian ethnic cleansing).

      1. Sometimes seems that way. Governments get carried away with themselves, too,and forget that their power should come from the people.


  1. It’s this kind of personal experience that can put a different light on things. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Turkey is lovely, and the people (that I met) were very charming. No doubt there’s the same mix of good and bad as everywhere. But it is incredibly sad, yes!


  2. I’m reading about these events with increasing unease. If the government could be less heavy handed things would probably settle down. They are creating their own disaster

    1. Yes, you wonder why they do that! But then, you wonder that with the Gillard government, too (and I’m a supporter, more or less).


  3. It is not the Middle East because women are very visible here. Also there is a problem that their leader is elected but he is not behaving in a democratic way. Bizarre that his deputy has apologised, so maybe there is hope for change.

  4. Hello Rose! How on earth do you find the time to read and write and mother and advertise and go to work? Jeesh!

    Weird thing; my boss was in Istanbul last week during the protests and water bomb, thingies and all the protests. He had to walk through the barricaded areas to get to his speaking area. His expertise is mediation! He is pro-protest, but if called upon, he will sit and try to make peace.

    Anyway, people have the craziest ideas about Turkey and Istanbul. It truly is a place I’d LOVE to visit. HINT HINT (or Greece, of course). It is gorgeous, the ocean is beautiful (brother shared his pics when he went to Turkey and Greece). SO, I will have to read the article and see what the f*** the government is doing to Turks. Damn, it must feel good to be a gansta (ignore the last reference to a silly song that means nothing). It’s just, i admire people who stick their necks out!!! Go citizens!!! xx

    1. I admire them too. Not sure if I’d have the courage to risk tear gas and whackings and rubber bullets and stuff – but people who do, just wow!


  5. OH, I remember what i was going to say (and got lost in my own babbling) … a lot of Americans (including myself) remember the riveting movie, “Midnight Express” where Brad (someone) gets locked up in Turkish prison for life for trying to smuggle some drugs. VERY SCARY and it was set in Istanbul. Have you seen the flic?

    1. yes, I saw it when I was in my 20s, was just stunned at the brutality. Of course, movies offer a lot more in the way of brutality now than they did then. Still, it was so awful I couldn’t speak to anyone afterwards for several hours!


  6. I just read that Turkey has more journalists in jail than china & Iran combined. also, a Human righst activist claims there is “still no clear distinction between expressing an opinion and membership of a terrorist organisation”. Not good.

    On Thu, Jun 6, 2013 at 2:42 AM, butimbeautiful

  7. I watched this protest unfurl on the TV news, here. There were also interviews. There is a ‘certain section’ of the populace that fear new laws being bought in by the Government are the prelude to turning Turkey into a Muslim state. This is the only point of contention, and there are always multiple points of view.

      1. Turkey is 99.8 % islamic, of the sunni sect. The idea that a secular state would last is absurd. Actually it’s the fault of the EU that made the islamic takeover happen. It was a requirement of the EU in order for Turkey to join they had to diminish the role of the army. Since the army was the guardian of the secular(ish) state Erdogan was quite happy to comply and sacked many a general to replace them with his own people. Having get rid of the only controlling factor Erdogan was free to start the islamisation of Turkey, thanks to the Eurocrats.
        Now, 10 years later and having imported millions of orthodox muslims from the countryside ‘secular’ muslims are in the minority.
        These protests are doomed to fail, Turkey will be an Islamic ‘democracy’ along the lines of all other islamic ‘democracies’ such as Iran.

        Learn to live with it.

      2. I think that is only part of the story. The new generation in turkey have not experienced repression and violence, and access to the internet etc means they are far more outward looking and independent than their rulers. the protest the other day when a man just stood in the square and stared into space is pure performance art. It has nothing to do with Islam or the past. These kids are clever and determined to bring about change. I am fascinated by it and think it may encourage others.

      3. One can hope so, but i’m somewhat pessimistic about that working out unless the army sides with the protesters. For each protester there are 100’s of 1000’s who sit silent. In Iran the mass uprising was much more widespread and violent. Still they recently voted for a religious madman as president nonetheless.

        In my native country and it’s neighbor live many Turks, not quite a few 3rd generation. They are not what you’d call a well integrated nice part of the population, in fact Islamic tendencies are even greater and most of them feel like Turk first and part of their adoptive country second. Also antisemitism is rife in those circles. One doesn’t just depose of a 1400 yr old culture in a generation or 2.

        Sure there will a small percentage of people that are enlightened, but the overwhelming majority is still stuck in the old ways.

  8. As a non-religious person living in a secular democracy, I think it’s tragic. I wouldn’t like the movement towards fundamentalist Islamicism if I were a woman in Turkey, or gay. But the Turks will do what the Turks will do, and progress (my definition of) is going to take a while, I agree with you there. It makes me think more than twice about stopping off in Istanbul though, so Turkey may well find that tourism numbers drop off (not that this will matter in the scheme of things).

    1. Look at what is happening in Brazil – a protest triggered by a small increase in bus fares but really a generation outraged at money being spent on football stadiums instead of hospitals and other public services. It feels like we are back in the late 60s only this time it is happening in so many places. As Dylan said back then “to mothers and fathers throughout the land, don’t criticise what you can’t understand. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command…Please get out of the new world if you can’t lend a hand

    2. Ah, yes, I’ve heard this notion many times now, the belief that potential revolution in Turkey (as with the Arab Spring) will threaten to bring about fundamentalism. But this is a misnomer and frankly prejudicial. Somehow, the specter of Iran’s 1979 revolution still hangs over what people think about the Islamic world, but that’s its own case. The agitation in Turkey and in the Middle East is and has been all about democratic reform and an end to corruption and abuse. So believing this will mean the Muslim Brotherhood or other such factions will take over is a far-reaching assumption.

      And speaking of Iran, Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005 and got in based on anger over the US invasion in Iraq (right next door to Iran), Afghanistan (also right next door), and the fact Bush declared Iran an enemy in the “war on terror” – even though it had nothing to do with 9/11 and Iranians held a candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims. People were scared and with all the rhetoric coming out of Washington, they turned to a hardliner. But he is now out of office and has been replaced by the much more moderate and reformist Rouhani who’s already promised constitutional reform, economic rebuilding and closer ties with the US and its allies.

      So really, any assumptions that this will turn bad simply because the people are Turkish or Muslim seems misguided. Turkey is asking for an end to the authoritarian policies of their government, not mulah-led government or Taliban-style theocracy. And I agree with you, Rose, I think they’ll do just fine. Sorry for the rant, been bored today and it makes me philosophical and political. ACK!

      1. No, I like it when you rant! Really, I don’t know that much about Turkey, so I can’t talk with any authority about the various movements there. I just liked the place, liked the people – and I’m not overly keen on Islam (or on any other religion). My anarchist heart feels sore when government acts as if it has a life separate from the people it governs, as if it’s more like an autocratic ruler from the past than a democratic institution of the people. I feel that more people going round in black sacks (incidentally getting vitamin D deficiency) is not what the world needs – a western perspective, I know, but I’m not apologising for it. And I agree with you, the actions of the US and other countries, in sticking their noses in where they plainly weren’t wanted, is a big contributor to Iran’s current situation (but then, who didn’t want Saddam to be done away with – some good comes out of a lot of ill, there).


      2. Also, I should note I filed this comment in the wrong spot, it seems. I was responding to some things that were said in the comment section above, a bunch of people were talking Islam, Turkey, immigrants, etc. Don’t want to offend the wrong people 😉

  9. Leaders will follow the money. angela Merkel is now saying the riots will delay/prevent Turkey joining the EU, so this will help to tip the scales in faour of reform.

    1. Yeah, you’d hope so. The Turkish govt must have thought of that though. Mind you, if I was a European country not already IN the EU, I wouldn’t join up. Looks like a sinking concern to me!


    2. Going by his continued ranting about ‘foreign powers’ (by which he means Israel) stoking the fire of the protesters it’s clear the guy is not in our reality. Which means one can’t expect reasonable behavior. A bit like the Iranese ‘leaders’.

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