What we accomplished at Occupy Gezi was a change of paradigm. As human beings we went beyond our petty differences. For once we unconditionally respected each other, and took care of our fellow living beings. Instead of competing, we collaborated. Instead of accumulating, we shared. We tasted the joy of solidarity, and we did for a moment create a better world.
Yesterday, this world came to an end. Just as I was doing geographical explorations to make an elaborate map of this place for the historical record, evil forces moved in to crush it. It was Saturday night. Gezi was as full of people as it had been for days. At ten minutes to nine, police launched a full frontal attack. It’s what you get for feeding the hungry, for treating of the sick, for spreading happiness…
LIVE FROM ISTANBUL: Today, following Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s extremely sectarian, separatist, and fictious speech in Ankara, around 9 PM, the Turkish police began to attack thousands of people who were at the Gezi Park and Taksim square, having dinner. There are kids under 4-5 years old, mothers, and old people among those who were under gas and pressurised water attack. According to reports, police doesn’t allow journalists to report or to take pictures from Gezi Park. They are also attacking with pressurised water against businesses such as the famous Divan Hotel that opened its doors to protestors running away from brutality. People are saying that there are thousands of wounded people inside of the hotel. People formed a human chain in front of the hotel to prevent police to attack. Another report says that people cannot leave the hotel because police is arresting whoever leaves. There are also unconfirmed reports that police shut down the metro and boats between Asia and Europe to stop people coming and joining the rest. Another report says that there is a jammer in the area to prevent TV stations’ broadcast. There are hundreds of wounded people. There are a lot of missing kids, or kids who are separated from their families. Protestors are fighting with the police in Sıraselviler, Cihangir, Harbiye, and most likely around Dolmabahçe and Maçka. People call it a total brutality, a real savagery that is going on tonight. What we are seeing is an ugly war where only one side has weapons.
In only a few days, the word ‘chapulling’ has taken international vocabulary by storm. Stemming from Turkish çapulcu, roughly meaning ‘looters’, it was used by prime minister Erdogan on June 2 to describe the people who had occupied Gezi Park. Instead of taking offense, it was immediately reappropriated by the protesters, who now proudly identify as ‘chapullers’. Almost overnight, the meaning of the word has changed from looters to rebels.
The Gezi Park television channel is called Çapul TV (capul.tv). One of the places distributing free coffee, tea and snacks all day and all night is the Çapulcu Cafe. I met a Dutch-Turkish compatriot there from Rotterdam. He has occupied Gezi since the beginning. He is unable to contain his enthusiasm and he makes no effort to do so.
He shows me the supplies. All day, vans full of goods park at the…
Every revolution needs its heroes. Ours is called Davide. He is the pianoman.
Yesterday and tonight he has been playing in Taksim for twelve hours straight, until ten o’ clock in the morning. When the rain started, people held a canvas over him and his piano, and he continued to play. ‘Imagine’, ‘Let it be’, ‘We are the World’, ‘Bella Ciao’, etc. etc. Fifty meters away there was a row of police buses and water cannons ready for the final attack. On the other side, candles were burning in honour of the people who died in the protest.
Throughout the night, livestreamers had to work in shifts to cover the marathon. People from around the world were touched by so much beauty. Messages of solidarity kept pouring in from every inhabited continent.
Davide is a Sicilian who lives in Germany. He came here…
Not surprisingly, the day after the battle, the camp looked like a war zone. The water cannons, the gas attacks, the stampedes, and finally the rain had seriously damaged the peripheral neighbourhoods of Gezi Park. Our Audiovisual stand had been completely destroyed.
I had very ambiguous feelings walking around Gezi yesterday morning. On the one hand, I was so happy that we are still here. And I was so sad to see the camp in these conditions. I was immensely thankful that I had been there to participate in the resistance. For once in my life I really stood for something important, shoulder to shoulder with some of the most wonderful people I ever met. Right from the start I realized that if there’s anything worth fighting for, it’s the Free Republic of Gezi Park. But I was sad that we lost the…
On the eve of the attack I was sitting in the International Corner, talking to Turkish comrades about the next phase of democratic escalation. At nine in the morning, every neighbourhood of Gezi Park would have organized an assembly. Until now the protest has been coordinated by the people who started it. They were the ones who issued the five demands. But they don’t represent everyone. And so the creation of an assembly in every part of Gezi would be a way to involve all the occupiers in the daily politics of the park.
Around four I walk down to see the sun rise over the barricades. There are two main roads leading down. One with fourteen lines of defense, and one with eight. Each of them is defended by different people from different backgrounds. There is a road…
The tanks didn’t come this morning. We are still here. It has been another day of freedom.
Those of you who ever participated in one of the big occupations will know what it’s like. Freedom is intoxicating. The revolutionary vibe is contagious. There is so much energy whirling around. There is so much to do, and people are so happy to do it.
The priority of the International Brigade is to connect the park directly to the rest of the world. We already have a handful of streamers deployed using mobile hotspots. Soon we will install a wifi network covering the entire square.
In the meantime, I was one of the proud founders of Gezi Park’s International Corner. We need a place for foreigners to plug in. We need to diffuse information in languages other than Turkish. So what starts with an idea…
There is something awesome about barricades. It’s got to do with the sense of power and determination they convey. And with their romanticism. Nothing is as romantic as a real barricade.
They all have their own style, each of them is different and continuously changing. This morning, the ninth line of defense on the main road had a gate in the middle, the ‘Gate of Freedom’. During the evening it was closed in anticipation of an upcoming attack.
We went down there just now, three of us, reservoir dogs from the International Brigade of Acampada Sol, reunited in Istanbul. Jack has flown in from Madrid today to coordinate the livestreaming effort. At the seventh line of defense we witnessed a reinforcement, where people are digging up the bricks from the street, passing them on through a human chain. As we could clearly notice…
All night we strolled along the streets of Gezi, and never for a moment did my amazement subside. I am so happy to be here. This thing is much bigger than I imagined. It’s pure love.
Here you have gays and lesbians next to anticapitalist muslems. You have trotzkyists and kemalists and anarchists all eating at the same table. You have nationalists, ecologists, students, workers, feminists, etc. They dance together in circles, having the time of their lives. And of course you have the football supporters, let’s not forget them. The three big teams from Istanbul are all here, Besiktas, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce. They were sworn enemies not so long ago, and now they sing and chant as brothers, united against prime minister Erdogan and the police.
The Besiktas supporters in particular are an important part of the uprising’s muscle. During the clashes…
Picture this. It’s actually pretty cinematographic. A dungeon with screens. A table with a bottle of coke, a bag of crisps. And a drowsy editor, monitoring the situation. The editor is me. I see one of the screens lighten up. I look and I don’t believe it. I tap on the screen to see if it goes away. It doesn’t. I turn on the sound, and I say: “What the hell. It’s revolution.”
That was over ten days ago. Now picture the Global Revolution newsdesk a week later. Communications strategy reunion. We have streams coming in from Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. The squares are taken. “Right, we have the bird’s eye view of what’s happening. Now we need to send someone in.”
So here I am. Special reporter for Global Revolution in Istanbul. I got here an hour and a half ago, just after dark…
This thing is far from over. The prime minister took up the challenge. He is ready to call out the protesters for a duel, one on one, at Gezi Park, high noon.
He owes it to his image as a strong leader to take an uncompromising stance. Upon return in Turkey after his North African field trip he said protesters are bordering on illegality. He made cliche accusations of terrorists and foreign agents being behind the protest, and he rallied his supporters to come welcome him at the airport.
Meanwhile, the protesters have far more important things to do than worry about what Tayyip does or says. They are in another world, a new world that they made possible with their own hands. They are organizing their camps, they are creating working groups, holding assemblies, etc. etc. Revolutionary fever is running wild in Turkey.