Zanzana translates here from Italian a letter she received from her dearest friend H., where you can read about the last hours of demonstrations in Istanbul. Zanzana thanks H. a lot, for the letter and the pictures, and wishes to her beloved Turkey the best future possible.
how are you?
The situation in Turkey is very confused: for the first time in my life, I went to a demonstration. I am now writing from the ferryboat, the one connecting Asia with Europe. I don’t know what the European press is saying about us.
Everything started at Gezi Park. The government wanted to build a mall in the park. Some young environmentalists started to sleep there in their tents, with families and children, in order to protect the park. They were sleeping there, and they were reading books during the day. On Thursday evening, also my friends went there. That night, everybody was sleeeping when the police started to shoot tear gas and pepper spray on innocent people.
On Friday evening, we were coming back from a friend’s wedding, and we accompanied some friends back home. The wedding was on the Asian side of the city. Our friends live in that part of the city.
We saw some people walking in the streets, wearing Turkish flags, clapping and singing; women were beating pots with spoons, out on the balconies, protesting against what was happening.
I realized that we were not the only ones to be sick of Erdogan.
The Asian side of Istanbul (Kadıkoy) is ruled by the Republican Party (CHP), founded by Ataturk. As you know, Kadıkoy is a residential area: in Kadıkoy it is not easy to see someone protesting. You don’t have bombs in Kadıkoy. There are no extraordinary things happening there.
Kadıkoy is always moden and secular. The day after we knew that everybody, on the Asian side, went out at two o’clock am, and walked towards the European side, to Gezi Park, crossing the Bosphorus bridge while walking.
On Saturday morning we opened the newspapers. We read Hurriyet on the Ipad. On weekends we buy Haberturk as well, a secular newspaper. Haberturk’s owner is Ferit Sahenk, and he owns also Garanti Bank, TV channels like Haberturk, NTV, magazines like Vogue and GQ Turkey, many restaurants like Zuma and many others. He is a kind person, young and modern.
On Haberturk there were no news about the demonstrations. A small picture and two lines. Nothing on TV. Everybody is afraid of Erdogan. Ferit Sahenk, who will buy the metro Umraniye-Cekmekoy, does not make any opposition to the government because of his economic interests, but people are not aware of this.
People were becoming more and more nervous. Mass medias were ignoring what was happening in the streets.
On Saturday, at lunch time. we met with our friends and went to Kadıkoy. Ferryboats were traveling for free, you could just jump in. Everybody wwas bringing flags and gas masks. You can not imagine how much crowded it was. Old and youg people, children, women, some people with big flower pots, someone else with flags. Everybody together. Our husbands left from Kadıkoy pier and went to Besiktas. We said goodbye as they were leaving for the war. The ferryboats were filling in, and everybody was saying goodbye, singing and weaving flags.
Around 3 pm our husbands informed us that police had left Gezi Park and stopped attacking the protesters. At that point, we also took the ferryboat and went to Besiktas. We walked until Kabatas. Then we reached Taksim down from Kazancı. Taksim was celebrating. Young people from other cities, famous artists like the actor Halit Ergenç, VIPs, everybody were drinking beer in the streets, singing.
For the first time in my life I had that feeling of unity, of brotherhood. Everybody forgot their personal problems and were togetherbecause of this social problem. I am not sure to express that in the right way, but I feel really moved while I am writing.
From that day, all the normal people are trying to reach Taksim.
In Besiktas, near İnonu stadium or in Kabatas there were clashes with the police. Some people are trying to exploit the confusion in order to promote political parties ot other groups, damaging the public spaces, bus stops, advertising posters.
Abdullah Gül, the President ot Turkey, as well as Istanbul major, are trying to calm everybody, while the Prime Minister Erdogan remains stuck on his positions, he is so stubborn and keeps on saying “We will build a mall in Gezi Park, and a mosque as well”, he says like that.
People get more angry, and keep on walking towards Taksim.
Now in Gezi Park (yesterday N. was there with her friends) people hang swings between the trees. Some of them play drums, read books, play ball.
The most beutiful hotels around the park, like The Marmara and Divan, opened their doors to everybody. People can use the toilet and have a rest in the hall.
There is an atmosphere of mutual help, union, brotherhood.
We hope and prey for everything to be over soon, and for Erdogan leaving his duties.
I forgot to write you something very important.
A week before these facts, Erdogan has banned the sale of alcohol after 10 pm, as well as drinking alcohol in parks or just outside, even at concerts.
In Caddebostan, on the seaside, we were used to organize picnics and normally we were drinking beers or other alcoholic beverages. He started to interfere in our lifes. He wants to force women to have three children. Last week, when I read that news I was shocked, like most of the population. We were all afraid perhaps, waiting silent for those things that perhaps are going to happen.
Gezi Park was the turning point.
I hope you will not find too many mistakes, and you will like this letter.
I am curious to know how the Turkish situation is seen from Europe.