Violence rises, the police are uncontrolled, and no one from the government sets limits to their acts. More than 1000 people have been arrested, hundreds of injured people and, at least, one dead has been confirmed. Demonstrations have expanded all over Turkey, and public figures such as religious scholars, journalists and politicians begin to show their disapproval regarding the police and the government’s treatment of the situation with an extremely violent reaction. Today we meet again Derya Çalık and one admin of “Occupy Gezi” to get an update from two people who are very close to this situation.
You will first find what was supposed to be an interview but became a report from the streets by Derya Çalık. Then you will see “Occupy Gezi” admin interview.
Voices IV: An interview with Derya Çalık
G.Y: This was supposed to be an interview. Derya was in the neighborhood of Besiktas when I contacted her. She could only send me an update of the situation by phone since the tear gas and constant tension didn’t permit her to maintain a more interactive and quiet communication. Thanks to Derya for sharing her experience.
D.C: The police are acting crazy and things are getting worse. The government continues ignoring the protesters. Erdogan left the country and went to Magreb. Tension is mounting here, more every day. Today the Confederation of Trade Unions of the Revolutionary Workers, DISK, said that tomorrow a strike will begin, but because it is forbidden to do a general strike all over the country, they will have to find a way to do it. We don’t know how they are planning to carry it out.
Today, according to the doctor’s association TTB, a 20-year-old Turkish man named Mehmet Ayvalitas died. It’s the first death confirmed since the violence began, but as I said yesterday, Amnesty International declared two dead already so if that’s true, Mehmet is the third one.
There are helicopters everywhere; people are very excited even though all the streets are filled with tear gas. At the moment police are not attacking, they are waiting. More and more people are arriving. The entrances to the Taksim neighborhood are closed again, everywhere there are dozens of policemen. Some people are dancing and singing, we are all wearing goggles and masks and we are all crying because of the effects of the gas.
There are left political groups, nationalists, radical, anarchists, everyone has place. Housewives with their sons; it is a very heterogeneous opposition.
People are cursing Erdogan. It’s a very harsh and strong protest. Yesterday I was in my small neighborhood and it was incredible. People were yelling out of the windows of their houses and many started walking towards the police quarters of the neighborhood. Police were ready and waiting and attacked again. There were lots of children with their parents, they were crying because of the gas. Protests are not only in Taksim anymore, they are everywhere.
Voices V: An interview with one of the people behind “Occupy Gezi” Facebook page
G.Y: Yesterday you posted on “Occupy Gezi” the following: “Some journalists are resisting the mass media channels they work for. Şirin Payzın is hosting Özgür Mumcu (a democracy activist) on CNN Turk. We’re enthusiastic to see him on a channel which applied censorship. His first sentence was: ‘Thank you for the invite, we did expect you to broadcast this interview instead of a penguin documentary’”. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
O.G: Well, Özgür Mumcu is a person who didn’t try to be politically correct. He told everything as it was. Şirin Payzın asked simple questions people could understand, and Özgür Mumcu stated facts to show the lies from the government– and supported his claims with videos. We are talking about a very popular television channel, CNN Turk, so the interview got very wide coverage. I am sure that thousands people heard about our cause thanks to Şirin Payzın and Özgür Mumcu. I think Şirin Payzın will be fired very soon because of this interview.
Şirin Payzın hosting Özgür Mumcu has been quite important because Özgür is both an intellectual and an important symbol for people. His father, Ugur Mumcu, was a very important journalist and was assassinated in 1993. His car exploded with him inside. As a family, they are a symbol of free speech in Turkey.
I must mention that most of the television hosts were wearing black today. Some of them even without make up, they all looked wretched. Even the ones working on the channels that didn’t cover the protests and the ones making daytime programs.
G.Y: What is the Prime Minister Erdogan doing abroad in such a situation?
O.G: Erdogan left the country for Morocco-Tunisia-Algeria. He’s in Morocco. It’s not clear why he went. Prime Minister Erdogan claims that he went to Morocco for some trade relations. There must be something he needs to buy so urgently. He held a new press meeting a few hours ago in Morocco. Fifth press meeting since yesterday. He was asked about the president’s comment “We received the message from the society.” Erdogan only said “I cannot know what he means by saying that.” He repeated his nonsense speech about the number of trees, marginal groups, etc. Nothing new.
G.Y: What about other public voices in the country?
O.G: The main opposing party’s leader, Kılıcdaroglu, visited President Abdullah Gul today. After the meeting, Kılıcdaroglu kindly said: “I reminded him how much power he has.” No organization, other than AK Parti and Prime Minister Erdogan, seems to defend the police at the moment.
Some religious scholars keep making statements on TV and say that this terror from the police and government against its own people is unacceptable by any religion or belief. Zekeriya Beyaz, a religious scholar who is as famous as a celebrity, talked about the wrong behavior of the government and the police.
G.Y: You just mentioned that the main opposing party’s leader, Kılıcdaroglu, talked about the power of the president. What can President Abdullah Gul actually do in this situation?
O.G: In the Turkish political system, the prime minister is like a CEO with his ministers as the executives. He’s delegated from a political party and he lists the ministers, we don’t choose them one by one. So basically he decides who he wants. On the other hand, the president is the protector of republic. He doesn’t belong to any party and is selected by the parliament. Abdullah Gul does not make any laws, he can only reject a law and send it back to the parliament, but he cannot reject the same law twice. He doesn’t make operational decisions. There are two crucial things he can do: call the National Security Council or the Ministers Council (Bakanlar kurulu) to an extraordinary meeting. This would be an immediately signal that he is displeased with what is happening. He can’t dismiss anyone.
G.Y: Finally I would like to ask you: Derya commented that the trade union of the revolutionary workers, KESK, announced a strike. What can you tell us about it?
O.G: KESK is calling for a strike starting tomorrow at noon, the 4th and 5th of June. They suggested other unions to join, too. A total of 11 unions will strike. At first they planned a strike before the Gezi protests happened, they planned it for June 5th for protesting a completely irrelevant law. They’ve added one more day to it, the 4th of June, to support Gezi and protest the government.