Clarity Within the Smoke: Thoughts From Inside Turkey’s Uprising

Istanbul, Turkey

"Mom, are these police human?"

“Mom, are these police human?”

 

The following is an almost word for word interview with three people engaged in the uprising in Istanbul:  Nina, 34, is a teacher, dreamer and activist. Yaren, 30, is a leftist and atheist, but grew up Muslim. Mehmet, 34, is a left-leaning Islamist and father of two, currently an unemployed architect. While the three were holed up in a French school, seeking refuge from attacks of riot police, red clouds of tear gas and ceaseless fatigue, they sketched out for us a multifaceted political horizon: the violence of the state, the actors in the streets, requests for global solidarity, the ridiculous rumors, their concerns on where things will go, and the role of Islam. By no means will this conversation answer everyone’s questions, but it will offer a candid and brutally honest look into the Turkish uprising.

The interviews began on June 2, around 11pm in the Bay Area, California and went until 4am on June 3, (meaning June 3 at 9am until 1pm in Istanbul). These are the chat logs with very little editing. As is with online conversations, multiple questions were being asked simultaneously through instant messenger and language barriers required us to edit only what was necessary to help clarify. However, the transcript is still nearly verbatim.

What Bay Area Intifada thought was going to be a simple interview of 10 questions turned into much more of an inspiring account. What lies behind the scenes and away from the spectacular imagery—some clarity within the smoke.

It is our position that if we are to support an uprising, we should listen closely to those engaged in that particular struggle–not the profit-driven and state-run media. The narratives of false dichotomies, as well as the riot porn images juxtaposed with reductionary or romanticized analyses have had enough airtime. We encourage all to dig deeper and chill on jumping to conclusions and overly academic nonsense.  We’re entirely uniterested in the language of the masters.

If you are in colonial North America, we are especially referring to you, because the entire world knows how to struggle better than you, and yet still you talk so much. Get yourselves together. Many around the globe are in dire need of you handling things in the belly of the beast. Please learn from your past struggles, victories, and failures of others and stop talking so much. You’re talking, we’re dying. You’re literally talking us to death. If you won’t do it for your own liberation, at least start thinking of the people who are being viciously murdered, brutalized, enslaved and colonized by YOUR country’s military, YOUR country’s corporations and YOUR country’s government. This is because of the country where YOU live. We hope these things cross your minds while you sit and ponder why your movements keep failing.

Here’s one suggestion: Stop marching around in circles with placards claiming to “fight” and start thinking about how you’re going to stop all that tear gas from reaching our peoples’ lungs across the globe. People ask, “When will we speak for ourselves?” But the real question is “When will you listen?”

We’ve been screaming at the top of our lungs for centuries.

(very much inspired by Radical Beirut : Letter to North American Anarchists)

Interviews conducted at 11pm- 3am PST  (9am-1pm Turkey)

Bay Area Intifada: How are you?
Nina: Not very well, but fine.

BAI: You hangin’ in there? Are your people okay?
N: I had a really difficult time and at the moment, I am kind of emotional. Now I am at a French school called Lycee. They opened their doors to us. We are more than two hundred injured from gas in here, but [this school is] supposed to be French ground—like an embassy type thing.

muslima turkey

Gezi

It’s not rich kids, not at all. It’s everyone. Everyone is angry and repressed by Erdogan. They try to present it as [if we] are some students or kids… Yesterday night, in 57 cities, everybody was out–friends sent videos. It is verified–at nine in the evening, [they] got out of the houses and walked the streets making noise with kitchen stuff or with cars. Everybody: old kids, all religions. It was amazing! Even very conservative neighborhoods and very traditional people.

BAI: The mainstream [media] is talking like its about Islamism, alcohol, kissing and other bullsh*t.
N: Now the media [is] starting to report because they had much pressure, [but] they [are] reporting it as some anarchist student group breaking and revolting for stupid reasons.

BAI: Of, course. Every country/city has the same guys from far away rich places blocked up in black ninja capes, targeting small businesses. They’re incorrigible! Damn agitators! It’s an ongoing joke here.

BAI: Are you okay though? Injured?
N: We got injured at night from the gas.

BAI: The new gas?
N: My skin is in pain. I can not put water cause it’s like putting fire on my body.

bay intifada turkey inside masjid

Masjid / Infirmary

BAI: I definitely understand that pain. Do you have malox or baking soda?
N [She did not respond to our question]: A Mosque/Cami opened the doors for us when it happened. I was with three friends. Most of the time we try to stay together so we (with many [of us]) went to the Cami near Dolmabahce Palace.

BAI: So the Muslims also support the uprising, I guess?
N: Everybody is helping. The violence is unreasonable, but the police gas-bomb[ed] inside the Mosque, and it was terrible.

One of my friends is arrested.
I am in the French Lycee. There are many people, maybe 200 in here.

BAI: Where are police?
N: Not around here. This is considered French ground.

BAI: So people are hiding?
N: Basicaly hurt. Everybody [in the city is] open[ing] their doors, mosques, hotels. Everybody knows we are in here.

BAI: You have refuge for now though? And all people– in Mosques, hotels, homes–everyone was helping demonstrators?
N: Yes. Yes, everyone.

BAI: Are they using this new gas we’re hearing about?
N: I am not sure. Everybody says that. I can not confirm. Sometimes this goes like an urban myth.

bay intifada turkey hurt manBAI: Ok, how many injured can you tell me. 100’s, 1000’s?
N: The injured are so many. I don’t know. 200 in here.

BAI: So can you give me an overview of the night?
N: There are many places where injured people are staying, and [that] is only in Istanbul. Ankara and Izmir have the same situation, with dead and injured.

BAI: Any ideas on numbers of dead in Ankara and Izmir?
N: Ankara confirmed one, but they are talking about another one.
The Izmir [death is] not confirmed, but they are talking about one.

BAI: And your friend that was arrested?
N: I am so sad right now. I don’t know what we are doing about my friend. They arrested many people, putting them in a stadium, taking [their] IDs and leaving them in [there for] 3-4 hours. That is what they do these days.

BAI: What are the effects of the gas?
N: The gas is burning really bad inside-out, and when I put water [on] my body it’s like I put fire. [The gas is] reddish, but you can not see something [red] on me. Only my eyes maybe: I don’t know.

supplies to combat tear gas

supplies to combat tear gas

BAI: Inside your body hurts and burns? And outside skin burns? Was it used on you a lot?
N: My outside skin burns. They are throwing it since day one, all the time.

BAI: I’ve seen it nonstop everywhere–and lots of water canons.
N: Inside the Mosque was [bad] because we were already [having] breathing problems and it was a closed space. [There are] so many water canons–many pics of the same, but they are not so many. Many tear gas everywhere.

BAI: The images are everywhere in the activist world. Everyone I know is asking about it, but no one understands what is happening politically…All is hearsay.

BAI: Is there a common goal (within all these diverse groups)?
N: The common goal is for the prime minister to resign. Everyone has a reason: all groups, different reasons. The problem is they don’t have an alternative. The social[ist] party is the second best and they support [the demonstration] for their benefit, of course.

BAI: [The] socialist party?
N: Yes, they are the second in vote, but no one really wants them, [but] they have no alternative.

BAI: It’s morning now. Is anyone in the street?
N: The streets are filled with everyone, all age groups, types and religion.

BAI: In Istanbul? Are the poor and minorities there?
N: In 57 cities. Everybody went out giving their support last night [at 9:00], even ninja girls.

BAI: Like they’re in burqa/hijab or they’re in black bloc (anarchists), or both?
N: Not black bloc: burqa/hijab conservative family girls. It is very peaceful.

BAI: Ok, Muslimas.
During the day it’s peaceful or most of the time it’s peaceful?
N: The police used unnecessary violence and made them all angry and they were already repressed, so everyone has a reason. Poor people get poorer because the pension was cut a lot. But the country got richer lately, so many have benefited.

bay intifada turkey barracades fire

Demonstrators Burning Barricades to Keep Riot Cops Away

BAI: Who can we say is calling for mobilizations? Like who is in the street fighting?
N: The fighting is not the majority. [Those] fighting are basically males [in their] 30s– Muslims of all kind and non-Muslims/secularists, students and workers and unemployed. The majority is on the streets–very peaceful families, mostly with kids. Everyone is in [the] street.

BAI: Wow, just everywhere? Kids and families in one area while there’s fighting nearby?
N: Yes, and the gas is thrown to everybody. It’s a big city. Imagine in 57 cities, everybody went out. They told me they did what they normally do in weddings with the cars, flags, noise, clapping, horns, marching, etc. [BAI note: Weddings in this region are huge, elaborate celebrations.]

bay intifada turkey - kurds syria

Syrian – Kurdish Youth

BAI: What’s the role of nationalism? Are things a bit fascist in some groups?
N: They all have flags out and a nationalist spirit, but this is more of a patriot attitude–not fascism. Everyone [is] try[ing to] not involve political or religious labels. They want the prime minister down, [but] every group for different reasons.

BAI: Nationalism is different in “eastern” cultures sometimes… But let’s move on.
N: I think that Syria has played a great role in that.

BAI: What about Syria?
N: Last week, or two weeks ago, Syria bombed a Turkish village.

BAI: Was it really Syria? I don’t doubt it, but just asking.
N: [It’s] not confirmed from the Government of Syria, but they say it was and some groups confirmed. Many say some groups participating (in the demonstrations) are influenced by that conflict. They are not the majorities. Most[ly] the simple [the everyday] people are the ones on the street.

I was talking to a group of funny 60-yr-old ladies. It was their first time on the streets and they were asking me how to make the “fuck you” sign with their hands. It’s kind [of] like that. And because police [are] tear gassing these groups, more are going out on the streets. It’s not just anarchists or students or youth.

BAI: They are gassing anybody/everybody, everywhere?
N: Yes.

BAI: This is a tougher question I must ask: What does solidarity mean to you? What kind of solidarity would the people in struggle like to see from the world? As in, do people want international actions? On consulates? Embassies? Police? The place that sells tear gas? Just examples of specific things…
N: YES OF COURSE!

BAI: What do the people there, yourself included, want from the world of active crazy peoples? I’m telling you, lots of people all over the planet are thinking and talking about you all. We’re all very inspired and want to know how to support you.
N: The solidarity is important because everybody feels censored–mainly they need solidarity from inside Turkey. That’s the main goal. Secondly, they want this [information] to be known. The gatherings in many cities abroad were known here and inspired and empowered a lot of people.

BAI: Can you give me a brief quote or statement to send to the people of Turkey through our channels?
N: They all try to make this peaceful as much so the public is along side.
[BAI: It seems like she was saying “as much as possible” because later she talks about self-defense.]

N: I shall ask my friends to join me for this. I am just copying what people say to me. (I’m not using my words). No one speaks the best of English.

[Nina’s (N) two friends, Yaren (Y) and Mehmet (M) enter the conversation. Yaren is a 30-yr-old leftist atheist raised as Muslim [and is] in favor of humanitarianism. Mehmet is a 34-yr-old Islamist “leftist,” married with two children. [He is a] male, unemployed architect. (The names have been changed to protect the protesters.)]

Nina paraphrases Yaren: Erdogan called us social media hooligans, propagandizing with lies and [committing] violence against the liberal regime. Let the people know we are everyone: our mums and families are on the streets. Yesterday, we cleaned Taksim Square and the media was showing us under the title “Destroying, breaking, and ready to attack the police.’” The censorship and lies from the media is strong and powerful. Let the people know violence is used [by the regime] ridiculously– even to people not protesting, [but even those] just sitting there supporting, or even not. There is a need of medical people in major cities– Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. We haven’t used violence– only building barricades to prevent the police to enter– or only [when] we are very much provoked [into fighting]. People must know that people died by unnecessary use of violence. People [are] only standing [and] protesting peacefully. They did not die in [the] street fight. [BAI: This is not a debate on violence and nonviolence. Taking this statement in context of the entire interview, we understand this to be in reference to peaceful protesters getting murdered in the streets.]bay intifada turkey police scare girls

[At this point, Yaren gets on the computer and types herself]:

Y: Thank you for supporting us.

BAI: No problem: Your blood is my blood. Here’s the first question: What can we say to people who will read this article who want to support you? What should they do to show love and solidarity?
Y: Our press is lying, hiding the truth and still trying to create an “us vs. you” politic by categorizing everyone… Please open your eyes and don’t believe the lies, as if [we’re] a bunch of hooligans! This has turned out to be a serious resistance! Evidently, this isn’t over, as our media and government still are trying to oppress us! Incredible–really incredible. I would have been confused by the press if I weren’t there or if I had not heard from friends who were there or if I weren’t following the social media…. Please don’t be fooled! They are trying to bully us into submission!!!

Propositions from people here: [Stage] gatherings outside the Turkish Embassies to demand the resignation of the prime minister and emphasize the police violence to residents.

BAI: We see them being very violent and we see protesters using self-defense. It’s hard to watch.

BAI: Ok, so embassies, what else?
Y: Post everything and send material [photos, statements, etc] of any support [solidarity] gatherings, actions and marches to big social media–like big media, etc.

BAI: What can I say to people in the international activist world? March on the media? Like CNN?

Turkey protesters occupy a TV Station.

Turkey protesters occupy a TV Station.

Y: Yes. [Like] BBC. Media is important. They try to manipulate and change everything. If you can, send them info and protest against their manipulation.

BAI: OK, I do get most of my sources from independent news on the ground. The media shows mostly calm, but then lots of people involved in violence. We’re seeing that people are also bravely attacking back in self-defense, but they are whooping up the police in some places.
Y: If anybody can come, please do. People are getting tired. I don’t know if this can last.

BAI: You mean come to Turkey in support?
Y: The brutality of police makes everyone very tired. Yes, [tell people to come], if anyone can.

BAI: Come to the country or tell people who haven’t come from home yet to come outside and join?
Y: Come to the countries, and [tell people] who are here [that] it’s important to come outside. Everyone realized this isn’t a violent rally and they are getting out of the house.

BAI: Can you tell me if the people in the streets are of all backgrounds? Are Muslims in the street? Islamists? Muslim revolutionaries or anarchist Muslims? We have zero idea who is continuing the push against the state.
[Yaren hands the question over to Mehmet, who is an Islamist]: Mehmet wants to make a comment that his English is weird. i am helping ok?

BAI: Are you a secularist? Muslim? Leftist? Communist?
M: Sunni Islam, Left[ist].

BAI: So, please continue.
M: Most of the people on the streets are Muslim, as most of the people in Turkey.

BAI: Everywhere? Or just Istanbul?
M: Istanbul is very tourist[y] so there are also many religions on the street, but other cities are mostly Muslims.

BAI: So far people are acting as if this is about seculars hating a “neoliberal Islamist regime.” It makes no sense.
M: Yes. [Erdogan] is a fake Islamist. No one hates the regime because religion. They hate his politics because he is a fake. No ideology.bay intifada turkey nice pics

BAI: What do the Islamists want? or at least the ones that are in the street?
M: Everyone is demanding Erdogan resign! And end all repression.

BAI: It’s impossible to be neoliberal and Islamist. It’s a joke.

BAI: Sorry, I’m feeling a little emotional over here thinking of all you.
So it’s not about religion. I knew I was getting bullshit reports.
M: He is making the country rich and capitalistic, but only with a minority of people getting really rich and the majority really poor.

M:They do not have a list of demands. Some are talking about some extreme things but [they] are a minority. It’s very fast. The entire thing triggered such events because of police brutality.

BAI: Are people wanting reform or a complete revolution?
M: Reform. Most people want to have freedoms and co-exist with different religions or views. This was happening before.

BAI: As far as Islamists or everybody?
M: The last 20 years of fanaticism has empowered the regime and divided the Muslim community. They want to co-exist without repression.

BAI: Is political Islam or revolutionary Islam playing a roll in the debates on the ground?
Are they helping to defend in the streets?
M: Yes, the revolutionary Islam is very active–active basically in street fights, very organized.
What do you mean by political Islam?

BAI: Well, some Muslims are like hippies and internalize everything. Other Muslims with more politics know they must act to change things, as well as pray, conduct themselves with Islamic etiquite (Addab)… So [these are] the people who are pushing a political Muslim message.
M: Everyone is saying, “The government has to account for corruption and murders.”
Most of the revolutionary Muslims here are very political and very politically organized– not in parties or something like that.

BAI: So, like anti-capitalist or anarchist?
M: Maybe? The thing is that the population is big: 70.000.000 [and] most [are] uneducated [people] living in bad conditions. I don’t even know about this. They are hard to reach.

BAI: I understand: same with my people.
M: They say anti-capitalist. It was very much important that yesterday everyone went out.

MuslimCircleABanner

Muslim Anarchist Flag
(Oakland, California)

BAI: I have been looking for you.
N: If you have a job, he is coming. hahahahah

[BAI: Nina now takes over the conversation. It is now 12:26 am (PST) 10:26 am (Turkey).

BAI: I guarantee one for you all. Do you like McDonald’s?
N: ahhahahahaha

BAI: KIDDING!
N: They are into Burger King here… They [Burger King is] also support[ive].

BAI: But seriously, this is warming my heart to hear direct[ly] without the bullshit.
N: He is a father.

BAI: Really, even BK is giving free food? Is it halal?
N: bhaha. And if you see him, you’ll think he is a very serious man not involved. He has your beard. ahhahahaha.

BAI: I have the beard of a 15-yr-old. hahaha I’m 31!
N: People are very sceptic with this beard, although it’s common.

BAI: Will this last?
N: Yes it [will], but with police brutality and censorship, it is difficult [for it] to last.

I will make sure this far And the demand is for Erdogan to resign with no alternative option or proposal…Things are raw. This has happened very fast. People of all groups are angry for different reasons. This is a problem for an accepted, [unified], specific proposal. That is why it is still very raw, and try to have no religious colour. Basically, everyone is angry for censorship and poverty and lies and violence. With police brutality and censorship, it is difficult for it to last. [BAI note: We understood her to mean protesters aren’t highlighting religious differences.]bay intifada turkey masjid pigs

BAI: I feel really encouraged to hear all the stories direct. I’m very inspired by all of you. We all are. Are people fighting each other?
N: Too much repression. Not at all:[there’s no infighting].that is why there are no religious chants
No political party flags.
People are trying to make it a civilian fight over the government.
It’s not a fight about Islam.

BAI: So the political parties are not running the show in the streets?
N: No they are not. They try to get involved but state their support.

BAI: Then who is the dominant group?
N: There is not [a] dominant group!!!

BAI: Really? So it’s not unions or another dominant group?
N: It is very strange. I like that [there is no dominant group], but I don’t know if this will last.

BAI: So this uprising still belongs to everyone and there is still no cooptation? Is this how everyone around there is feeling?
N: The socialist party is trying hard to make it their own, but yes this is the feeling and I am so surprised and happy. And no unions [are dominating].

BAI: Was there a direct message that your friend wanted to send to Muslims who will read this? Do u have a direct appeal or statement that you want to make to the Turkish people or Europeans, etc? Do your other friends have anything I should make sure to tell any specific group? Or a message for everyone?

M: To the Muslims: Don’t be intimidating or afraid of other religions or groups.
Oppression/Repression causes hate.

(N: I am just saying as he is saying. This English is a problem.)

BAI: So just to confirm with you and your friends–all three of you: There is no dominant group? There are no unions controlling the uprising? And both secularists and Muslims are fighting the police together or being peaceful together? I just need to make sure to confirm… I just want to get this right. Everyone became united against the repression and are having NO problems with each other?

N: There is no dominant group so far. No unions [are in] control. So far everybody is fighting the police together. The socialist party is trying to make this it’s own fight so they will be elected in case of resignation. But it [their efforts] only works in media, not in the streets.

BAI: Wow. This is incredible news.
N: The socialist party organized some of the gatherings. People are mainly gathering there because [they] are more safe zones. [It’s] not for political reasons.

BAI: I understand.
N: And then they unite with people in Taksim

BAI: How do people feel about the military? They helped two days ago. Has anything changed?
N: The situation with the military is strange here. To tell you the truth, I can not understand: the military is against the government and so in favor of the demonstrations and so they are helpful. Some say “They can force democracy.” What the f* that means, I don’t know. But so far [the military] is keeping distance.

BAI: Oh no, that reminds me of Egypt.
N: I know

BAI: Everyone is worried about this.
N: But this is not coming from many people, but I [have] heard it, so I don’t know.

BAI: Most in the military are conscription, but the generals are anti-Islam, correct?
N: Correct. Most of the military are in jail.

BAI: This is to avoid a coup correct? In other words, the PM thought they would take him out of office? This is what I often hear.
N: Yes. They [are] very against the PM. Some [have] committed suicide. Some say they were murdered.

BAI: Are people in the street worried that [the military] will come out once the PM is gone?
N: Things in [the] jails here are very secretive and no news [makes it into] the media about these things. They are mostly worried [about the military] getting involved in order to throw the PM out, but so far they keep distance and haven’t got involved.

BAI: Yet…
N: The PM left from Turkey today.

BAI: I hope people are not naive: we all saw what happened in Egypt when people trusted the military. It’s no good…We’re all worried about this in particular. Ok, sorry, that’s just me and my friends, I guess. My opinions…
N: No, this is not a general view. Some are saying they want the military to be involved but it is not a general opinion. I am hearing it in private talks mostly.

BAI: What are the Kurds doing?
N: Kurds are on the streets, but not in a group. The Kurds, as an organized group, are silent. [They’re] not making it a Kurd-Turkish thing. They were facing a lot of violence. I met a couple and they were in the middle of it with everybody.

Right now, [the legal situation is that when outside], people in Turkey may stand (NOT MOVE) for ten minutes or so and must state his or her demand [to the police]. When the police asks once [for a person] to go, the person goes: thats the law. So the purpose of what we are doing is [to make] people to stop being afraid of going outside.

BAI: And people are going out everyday and night?
N: Yes, that is why it was important that people went out walking all around the cities, drumming kitchen appliances yesterday. The main purpose is the resignation and to make people not afraid anymore.

BAI: Is there any infighting so far? major splits, etc?
N: No, not as far as i know.

BAI: Wow, thats amazing!
N: But the thing is, I don’t know. We don’t know what is happening in other cities as far as that goes… people may be quiet.

BAI: Again just to be certain, I want to ask again: was there a direct message that your friend wanted to send to the Muslim who will read this?
N: Most here are Muslims (in struggle).

BAI: Do you have a direct appeal or statement that you want to make to the Turkish people or Europeans, etc? Do your friends (all three of you) have anything i should make sure to tell any specific group or a message for everyone? Just in case we lose contact over the next 24 hours. Is there something you want everyone to know or that you want to say to the world, if they are listening?
N: Just make sure that everyone is not trying to make this into a religious fight, [but] rather a fight over a repressive regime. But the regime here has no true religion. He is too corrupted and too barbarian.

Mosques in Istanbul are opened as medic centers for protesters.

Mosques in Istanbul are opened as medic centers for protesters.

BAI: Just dumb lies trying to make seculars and Muslims fight each other.
N: This is what the Erdogan media is trying to say. They are saying we are all drunks–drunken hooligans. He has control of the media– total control. There is only one channel.

BAI: My Egyptian friend is telling me that her friends in Turkey are dealing with racism against Arabs and Syrians?
N: Racism by who? Your friend’s friends are Muslim?

BAI: Yes.
N: That’s what they are saying here. This government made everyone fight each other by repressi[ng] everyone…

BAI: Should I check stories from any particular city for you?
N: Ankara is in a bad state. We get news. Many have friends there.

BAI: So people were pushed against each other, but the repression brought them back to unity in order to fight pigs?
N: But because Ankara is deep in the East, and is also the capital–the government’s place– the police violence is worse.

BAI: Yes, I saw.
N: And yes, there was racism: it’s true. (I faced racism here.)

BAI: Where is racism happening and from whom? Racist groups? Sectarian hatred?
N: People got divided by the repressive regime and the f****d up laws. Half are “Islamic” laws and half are liberal laws.

BAI: Fascists?
N: No, not proper fascists. Ordinary people.

BAI: Should we contact someone for your arrested friend? family? embassy?
N: Things are scary with the police and [the] secret police. We try to be anonymous, [but] most of the people haven’t told me their entire names. So far, we are waiting, because the holding up [process] is normal for few hours. They do that– hold up hundreds in stadiums, taking IDs and [then] let[ting] them leave. He will contact us: he is a devious boy. He got arrested in the Mosque…when we were hiding from gas. They threw a gas bomb inside. But we already [had] breathing problems, so it hit us hard. When [we were] getting out of breath, they arrested many.

N: But the previous gas didn’t affect me AT ALL, because in Greece they use the stronger kind and it didn’t affect me much. [But now,] they are using different gas than before.

BAI: OMG! Can you tell me for certain they are using different gas? Is it all US-manufactured? I’m not sure how we can prove what gas this is without pictures and residue.

US-made tear gas canisters blanket the streets of Istanbul and other Turkish cities.

US-made tear gas canisters blanket the streets of Istanbul and other Turkish cities.

N: I know. I don’t know if it is true that [this is Agent] Orange gas or not. It is definitely a stronger and more effective one, though. People say it’s US-made. They saw it printed on the can.

But here I [am] so much inspired from all the support of ordinary people–all the help from everybody. It is amazing. It makes you believe in innocence…in humans.

BAI: That sounds like an amazing experience.
N: They just [keep] telling me now a hotel in Ankara (hotels opened their doors to demonstrators) opened the door to public [with the pretense to] help and then gave them up to the police!!! I am not sure if it’s news…

BAI: What?! The hotel did this?
N: We have no confirmation about the hotel.

But it is confirmed that more than 150 cops resigned. [It is] confirmed about the cops! Their union announced [this], but we had [already] seen this happen in front of us.

There are not only the fights [street clashes] happening. The majority [on the streets] are ordinary civilians–Muslims mainly. There is a video i wonder if you have seen it

BAI: And this is generally a liberal area, Istanbul, no? It’s not very conservative?
N: Not at all conservative

[N: commenting on video she sent]: Just like for no reasons? That is like the most common thing: everybody is united against them. So that is why there is no religious political colour in that.

BAI: Can i ask you again, why do think it has lasted? Are the street tactics working?
N: The tactics are not working as tactics. Not at all! The thing [that that are working] are that people are not leaving and that people are united. They don’t even run. Cat and mouse are rarely played. Basically, we stand conquering territories with many people. When the gas is thrown, we get into shops and houses or walk around and go back [to] ground zero–basically Taksim Square and the entire Istiklal Payvment Avenue, where the main shopping area of town. The town is what’s holding us– the crowds [are] being very much peacefully supportive [by] chanting, making a statement, etc. (Of course, if you get isolated, you are totally f****d.) It’s like saying we are here to stay [and do] whatever you do! Large numbers are necessary.

The chants are saying resign. At nights, there are major battles, but only defense from our part– building barricades, etc. The secret police [are] breaking shops and banks– not us. It’s not true, so far.

bay intifada turkey start bucks mashallah news

BAI: Are you sure? Everyone hates banks and Starbucks and sh*t…
N: I know! That’s why I am sure. If we were in Athens, it’s the first thing we will do! Here Starbucks [is] giving us shelter, free coffee and cake!!! ahahahahha I understand the symbolism of this [type of] action, [but] it isn’t happening here because the shops are so very helpful.

N: The demonstrators are not wild boys. [They’re] kids and old ladies along with wild boys, so the people demonstrating appear familiar to everyone, so everyone unites….This is a good tactic.
Bring your mother to the streets!

BAI: Wow, because they’re families? And [there] are communities?

N: Yes. That is why everyone is supporting. They see police brutality [happening] to children, normal school kids with [their] dads, mainly. So it’s not a bunch of young hooligans.

N: So basically, state that the strategy is to bring the housewives and old people and people who are not into politics or families on the street to fight for human rights and justice. It is confirmed for Istanbul.

BAI: I’m concerned that people will go home too soon, like what happened in Egypt.
N: Me too.

BAI: Or that they’ll believe the military.
N: This stands because of the numbers and participation of the ordinary Turkish people. If this goes on like this, it would be magical. I am afraid it won’t… but i hope it will.

BAI: It would be…liberals are known to turn radical over night during these things. Hopefully, people start to talk about ending the state.
N: Ending the state? Didn’t understand that.

BAI: Like anti-state. No states.
N: I don’t think they want that anyway.

BAI: Me neither. I don’t think so… yet.

BAI: Let’s keep hoping. Hey what time are demos happening tonight? And will they be in every city again?
N: It’s non-stop from yesterday. There is no time.

BAI: Really, non stop? No set time for gatherings? Just general?

N: Usually, seven is a time that most people know they are needed. But people are full time on the streets now.Yes, [there is] no time anymore. [The streets are] full of people standing.

bay quebec

Quebec Cassarole

BAI: There is no time anymore?
N: Nope. There is no time! We are beyond the sense of time! Time travelers!
There is time for the ordinary city people to go out from the house marching, making noise with anything. It is set for every evening at nine.
·
BAI: Every evening, 9pm, just bang on casserole like in Quebec?
N: Yes, but everybody! Outside the house!

[Nina sent this video:]

Resistance in Izmit

bay intifada turkey izmat

Izmit, Turkey

BAI: [In the video], i looked like happy youth.
N: It wasn’t only youth. I went there and it is a very Islamic city. Izmit is a very conservative industrial city, but the people were driving and honking and celebrating all over the town. That is the purpose as I understand, to make people NOT be scared. Everyone felt scared for their own reasons. That’s why there was fascism and racism and everything. Because [of] fear.

BAI: Now the racism is less? No infighting?
N: Of course, it can not be better in a week, but everybody is on the streets–even if they hate each other, they do not show it.

N: This is great! My friend contacted us!!! He is at Burger King, the bastard! Eating!

BAI: hahhahahaha! You’re f***ing kidding me? So glad we got to chat!

N: Me too!!!!!

BAI: And your friends were awesome!
N: Crazy, but awesome. I am so angry with the bastard, calling happy from Burger King. He is saying, “What the f**k are you doing with the French people? They give free food here!” He is crazy! We are going over there in a minute

BAI: Free burgers? And halal? Damn, Turkey’s kinda awesome right now. Eat well and get rest before tonight. You been through alot. Do what you gotta do and be safe!
N: Don’t worry: most of it is fun!

BAI: Can i come back to ask more questions?
N: Of course, but I cannot be sure when I’ll come back. Whenever I can, I will. I didn’t even know that we talked for hours. People around me have slept and are just waking up! Don’t worry: I am off for the free burger feast now!

BAI: Actually, one last thing. How are you all keeping in contact with each other? How are you staying connected with news from other cities, etc?
N: Internet. Usually this time it’s operating [in the] mornings.     bay intifada turkey beautiful ending

BAI: I’m seriously inspired by all this and by all of you. It’s just amazing
N: I am inspired too. Thanks for the support [both for] the fighting and to me personally! It’s much needed….

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15 thoughts on “Clarity Within the Smoke: Thoughts From Inside Turkey’s Uprising

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  4. Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Please read and share widely! This is direct communication from the people actually involved in the protests in Turkey, not the “talking points” the powers that were want us to see. As always, if you can do nothing else, please pray for the people involved!

  5. Hello from Turkey, Ankara!

    I have read your amazing post and it is a really good interview. Let me tell you what is going on in Ankara as a protestor.

    The police violence in Ankara ceased on Tuesday. Government made a statement that police would never attack, unless they are attacked and would not use tear gas. Then yesterday in the Kızılay Square, police makes an announcement somewhat like “There are people who will attack the police, please disband and leave!” Yet, when there were no attacks, this happens(the video is in Turkish but you can clearly understand what’s going on):

    There were also protestors in Tunalı Hilmi, Kuğulu Park. They were chanting and dancing. Suddenly, with no reason and with no WARNING, police attacks the children, elderly, everybody in Kuğulu Park. My friend described it as “The gas came out of nowhere, suddenly there were tear gas shells dropping from sky. We did not see any police around, they just turned around the corner and started attacking us.” After that people started to build up barricades to defend themselves. Yes, people of the Turkish Republic is defending themselves from the police that is supposed to protect themselves.

    I was home yesterday, so I saw it all on live stream by volunteers. Only one private channel was showing the events.

    Tonight, after I leave work, I am off to streets once again to protest and to be heard. We want to be heard and we want be understood.

    By the way, I would gladly tell you what happened in the previous days in Ankara, when I have some spare time. Contact me if you want.

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