R E S I S T A N B U L
There would have been no way of reconciling all of them in former days, to be sure. Least of all, singing, celebrating and collectively demonstrating. Especially in a place that will become symbolical of an entire movement. All of them: by that, I mean the gathering of a collective of people from the most diverse social stratum and political stances. An impossible task, one would think. Especially when bearing in mind the history of Turkey with its numerous domestic flash points flaring up between all these groupings. Media’s black-and-white approach of these issues has somehow been a part of it all along. Until now it hasn’t been difficult to identify alleged differences. The big, uniform “We” on this side, and over there the dangerous, peculiar “Other” that needed to be fought. But from this “We” and this “Other”, a pluralistic community assembled at Istanbul’s Gezi-Park: Kurds, Alevis, Sunnites, etc. – hand in hand. Together they protest against an increasingly arbitrary state-power that does not tolerate critique – regardless of its origin - but sanctions it with all possible means.
Still, this doesn’t mean the “We” and the “Other” no longer exist. On the contrary. Now this demonstrating community has been designated as the dangerous „Other“. If one is to believe the prime minister and the pro-government media – of which by now there are quite a few – this community is made up entirely of violence-prone vandals, terrorists, leftist conspirators and public enemies, rabble and nonbelievers. Which brings us back to the mentioned black-and-white-attitudes. It appears to be in the nature of the individual or even the collective to seek the most simplistic pattern of explanation existent. And it is all too easy to identify the enemy and point the finger at them so as to boost one’s own aspirations to power and (frankly speaking, questionable) identity. Especially when the complexity of the matter is impenetrable. Are these problems really that complex?
I doubt it. Once on the ground, it didn’t take long for me to realize: they’re humans. Humans fed up with not being heard. Humans taking to the streets against this insufferableness, undeterred by impending violence. Humans who, despite this risk, demonstrate the power of their alliance through their expressive creativity. With a rain of flowers for hundreds of police. And let’s not forget the by now iconic Duran Adam and many others inspired by this experience. It is these expressions but also impressions that form an entity and symbolize the will to become part of this movement. This city’s backdrop of protests offered numerous opportunities for snapshots and souvenir pictures. There was something bizarre to the very situation of these pictures being taken. Enter Dark Tourism.
While I don’t intend to sound solemn, it is not unsubstantiated either when I make this assessment for myself: the de-escalating energy emanating from this solidarity I felt, saw and experienced at any time makes up the very soul of this movement. However, we all know that - at times - violence breeds further violence. Although the majority of this movement object to this, I still found myself in the middle of a row between hundreds of police and a handful of stone-throwing protesters unwilling to give up Taksim Square without resistance. Powerful appeals on the part of bystanders and peaceful protesters were heard time and again, but did not suffice. They know it is their nature, their collective identity and their majority that dissociates them from what they oppose. They know violent resistance offers fertile ground for populist politics that lead to prejudice and even absurd conspiracy theories. Back on the same old subject of black-and-white attitudes.
My deepest sympathy to all those who take to the streets peacefully and do not shy away from voicing their opinion. My condolences to the families of those who died in these events. Their casualties are un-called for. Be it protester or policeman – they’re all human.