Methodological note: This past Saturday, I saw images of what was going on in Turkey and I felt concerned about it. I contacted a Turkish friend to learn about it and came up with the idea to write an interview on my blog, which is dedicated to non-edited interviews. As I don’t edit, there is always a risk that the interview will get a bit long, but in exchange we get good information from the interviewee, who doesn’t feel the pressure of the limits on space to spread the word (unlike what usually happens in the media and press). What was supposed to be an interview has somehow become a diary and my evening occupation. The length of the first two interviews has been thought of as an interview but meanwhile, this task of reporting about what happens in Turkey will last; the future publications will be shorter, unless the situation demands the opposite.
Well, back to our topic. Since the 31st of May, every night people are going out at 21.00; many citizens are opening the windows of their houses and flashing their lights on and off to show support. They go on the streets to make noise with pans and all kinds of noisy objects to show their disagreement with the repression that the government is ordering and as a signal of support to the protesters who are in the streets. Last night, a Turkish friend told me there were noisy protests lasting 20 minutes. Every day more people are joining them, in the same way that every day there are more people in the streets.In this instance I didn’t properly interview the “Occupy Gezi” Facebook page admin. I just sent her a series of topics and issues to develop freely.On the other hand, we will let Derya “rest from the blog” and on this occasion I introduce to you Ibrahim Ç. He was born in Ankara and studied Informatics at Middle East Technical University. For the past three years, he has been in Germany studying for his Master’s at RWTH Aachen and is planning to continue his education with a PhD at RWTH Achen University.
Voices V: An interview with one of the people behind “Occupy Gezi” Facebook page
O.G: Well, tomorrow is one of the holy nights for the Muslims, Kandil. The Islamist newspapers try to pump provocations claiming that the protestors will raid mosques. As a precaution, the protestors started a campaign and announced that they will be offering traditional Kandil pastries and desserts- to show that they are not against Islam or any religious community.
O.G: He’s still in Morocco, no news from him today. Bulent Arinc (the acting Prime Minister) held a press meeting. He first read a written statement in a soft tone of voice, but after that he took a different approach during the questions and answer session with press members. It’s like mood swings; we don’t know what to feel.
G.Y: Şirin Payzın, the journlist who did the interview with Özgür Mumcu.
O.G: Şirin Payzın hosted a director, Cagan Irmak, today. He’s not a political personality, he produces dramas. He talked completely from his heart. His movies are quite popular, so I believe Şirin Payzın is trying to show that artists and ordinary people also support the movement.
G.Y: President Abdullah Gul.
O.G: He met Bülent Arinc today, we don’t know what they talked about. There’s a chance that he will be meeting with Taksim Platformu (an NGO which was set before these protests–they were interested in all these construction projects in Taksim). The platform declared themselves representatives; no protestors chose them or anything, but it’s still a step to create a communication point with authorities.
G.Y: Official numbers on the streets.
O.G: The Minister of Health, Muezzinoglu, announced more than a thousand wounded have been carried by ambulance, whereas Arinc (President of the Assembly, Acting PM) reported 60. The Turkish Medical Association announced 1,714 wounded yesterday. Beyazit Ilhan, of Turkish Medical Association, announced more than 3,500 wounded a few minutes ago (around 8PM).
G.Y: Occupy Gezi Facebook page.
O.G: This page has restored my faith in humanity actually! My friends and I were devastated at first, but seeing that thousands of people sent solidarity messages (especially from the countries that were presented as enemies by the government) gave me hope. People translate and share our messages voluntarily; they discuss, agree, disagree…but they’re so great, we don’t even have to moderate–we didn’t have to remove any comments from anyone! Even though the authorities still stress that the people sharing information on social media are provocateurs and we feel quite threatened by that, I believe we’re doing the right thing.
G.Y: Once the interview was done and ready to publish I got this worrying message from “Occupy Gezi”:
O.G: A member of the parliament from CHP (the largest opposition party in terms of the number of parliament members) tweeted that he received information about 38 young people being taken under custody because of their tweets.
Voices VI: Ibrahim is a Turk living in Germany for the last three years
G.Y: Can you tell us about yourself?
I.Ç: I am a Turk, part of the young generation of Atatürk’s principles. I am also considered a plunderer by current Turkey Prime Minister Erdogan. I was born in Ankara. After my graduation from the university, I was not satisfied with the situation in my country because of the government and its political approaches: non-democratic decisions, marginal speeches, unfairness in education, and so on. Therefore, I wanted to go to abroad. Germany was appealing to me because I had an Erasmus semester there and was very satisfied with the quality of education there. Now I am working and also studying at the same time.
G.Y: Can you talk about the Turkish community in Germany? How are Turkish people who live in Germany experiencing this situation?
I.Ç: It is very hard to describe the Turkish community in Germany because there are very sensitive dynamics here, but in short, they are in the middle–not completely belonging to Turkey and also not well-integrated into Germany. These are my personal observations after 3 years. Every time I talk to others about Turkey, they always start their response with this introduction: “As far as I see/hear…” This explains many things concerning the Turkish media, which follows the directives of PM and does exactly what he wills and what he says. They are also under pressure from the media; therefore, they think in the same direction, which is also related to their education level. I met many people here who are supporting AKP, but I also talked with many people who supported AKP in the first election and later were not satisfied with the progress.
G.Y: How is the German media treating the protests in Turkey?
I.Ç: I can clearly say that the German media is very objective and explains everything as it is. I heard the news on the first day of the protests on the radio while I was driving back home. I have been watching the live streams on the internet that were broadcasted by people using their 3G connections. German media forwarded all news from the start, both about the unbalanced power used by police forces and also about the provocations of a few people who saw these demonstrations as a chance, but they were stopped by demonstrators.
G.Y: You began a blog since the protests. It’s new and there are few posts, but I’d like you to explain about it since it will be active from now on and is a good source of information.
I.Ç: I never saw such unfair, anti-democratic, anti-human rights decisions in my life. I could not be silent because I am also part of Turkey and I have to be with other citizens who are defending their rights, their freedom, and their environment. Yes, everything started with the aim of protecting a park in the center of Istanbul, but afterwards it spread to whole country for every unfair and anti-democratic, anti-nature decision.
I am a Software Engineer but I never had a blog before. I wrote what was on my mind on Facebook, but this was not effective so I decided to open a blog for that reason. The first sentence of first article was “Dear citizens of the world” because media in Turkey is silent; they show penguin documentaries while people are seriously injured on the streets by police forces.
My blog is very new and there are few posts, but social media and internet are our only sources of communication. This blog will be active from now on and I will try to write daily about what is happening in Turkey, in English so that citizens of the world can read/learn about it.
G.Y: Can you explain what the position of leaders in Europe, and specifically in Germany, is?
I.Ç: Erdogan’s government always wanted to be part of the EU. The EU stated that it will not accept that until Turkey solves some problems, and human rights is one of the biggest ones. Taksim Gezi Park was the starting point/spark of everything that the government has done in the last 10 years against human rights, ignoring what the society thinks/wills. Europe and Germany have, in the last years, already warned the government many times but they always think they always do best and they can do whatever they want.
Germany, Merkel (CDU): “In a constitutional and democratic state, police should not use unbalanced power”.
Germany, Müller (CDU): “Reconsidering Turkey’s EU application seems wrong”.
Germany, Gabriel (SPD): “Frightening”.
Germany, Der TagesSpiegel: “The problem is Erdogan“.
European Parlament, Swoboda: “EU may stop the negotiation process with Turkey”.
European Union, Nesirky: “We follow the news in Turkey closely”.
Russia, Putin: “We want to think that Turkey will find a solution by having dialogues with civil organizations”.
Bulgaria, Vigenin: “We are worried about our neighbor”.
The Fitsch economic rating agency also warned the government to decrease its ranking if they do not listen to the demonstrators.