I just got home late tonight from Taksim square after witnessing surreal
scenes. No, no tear gas attacks and police panzers running over people
tonight as the previous two nights. A German pianist driving a grand
piano on a truck right on to the police sequestered Ataturk statute in
the middle of the square and playing nocturns and sonatas from Bach,
Chopin and Beethoven, occasionally replaced by Turkish pianists doing
the same, an American Tourist or Expat getting up to sing Hallelujah,
the great gospel song to the joy of thousands of protesters. I yelled
until my throat was hoarse for them to somehow play "We shall overcome"
but I guess that's for another time.
Even the police right next to protesters by now listening in intently.
Mothers of protesters forming a human chain in front of the riot police
and panzers, as they are called here, water cannon rigs really, deriding
them into shame, shaking fingers.
An opera singer singing an excellent rendition of O sole mio in eery
A barricade of construction debris at the gate of the Park manned by
some of the hot head so called extremists.
A fully functioning field hospital with at least 5 ambulances ready, all
staffed by volunteers, by MDs, medical students and their profs,
perfectly organized and ready.
A human chain at the back of Gezi Park continuiously passing along food
through a human chain much needed supplies, donated by people.
An enourmous number of construction helmets on the heads of protesters,
now very expensive, appereantly supplied by worried mothers and fathers,
at the least not able to prevent their sons and daughters from joining
in the protests and occupation. Gas by now has become a joke, and being
gassed a badge of honor.
An incredible spirit of solidarity, clarity of purpose and resilience
among protesters, from the first dayers to curiousity seekers populating
the area now.
Police hanging out in critical crossroads in platoons looking tired, and
dejected. After all, they overextended themselves firing salvo after
salvo of teargas at their fellow countryman. One can read the shame and
helplessness on their faces.
European and US media everywhere, whom I seek out with my fellow ex pat
US friends and give them the on the ground reports, sometimes
translating comments from protestors, helping them conduct candid
No, I just read the comments above rather hastily now, everyone please
dig in a little deeper before posting here, or going global and linking
to what's happening in Taksim square to world events in general hastily.
This is more local. The young, geeky kids I meet here everyday are
connected to the world, they do not hate the US, as the previous
protesting generation did, they are self confident, and really, are just
themselves. And they do not care about the EU. This is really, really
different than Prague Spring, US anti-war demonstrations, Occupy Wall
Street, Tahrir, Tianemen Square, Orange Revolution and others.
And Albayim, this goes beyond head scarves as symbol of a particular
world view, or beyond everone being soldiers of Ataturk as is chanted
here sometimes. This may be the world's first apolitical political
revolution. Singing the nationalistic songs were at best tepid,
head-scarved girls walk together and jabber with girls in t shirts and
jeans, there are no party flags. As best as I can see, this is the most
credible proof that I have ever seen that Ataturk's reforms had set root
irreversibly no matter what. SO RTP government complains that Turkey's
image around the world has been damaged. His own maybe, but when the
world wakes up to the fact that Turkey is not an Islamic Democracy, but
just a normal Democracy that happens to be Muslim in majority, with an
antithetical, modern but virile, productive, global and areligious
minority, then that image will change for the better.
And about the 50% that elected Erdogan…They are watching. I think now
judging from the pitiful performance of the Turkish media (non)covering
the events, whether they have been lied to also. At least their young
are watching and tweeting Taksim square and their cool-looking
rebellious, well educated, worldly peers. And maybe wondering behind
their externally imposed blinders and headscarves.
In the next post I will try to link some sources for all those
interested in actually seeing and reading level headed commentary on
what's going on, but really, its not difficult to find out with a simple
search, there must be a hundred media correspondents and TV, photo
crews on the square right now.
Like I said earlier, it would be premature to start to put all that's
happening here in geopolitical terms yet. But what can be said without
doubt is that the Genie is out of the bottle and it can't be bad.
And no, the Army will not interfere, they are not needed, and no, he
will not dare to crush the uprising by force. And yes, he is out of the
Syria game effectively now.
And again, apologies for the hasty exposition.- Kunuri
You ARE one of Ataturk’s soldiers. pl
Many thanks kunuri, your thoughts, observations, and perspective are extremely valuable.
Posting some links to reporting and analysis you feel are responsible and objective would be helpful.
I suppose you mean “The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Most suitable.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
” He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.”
Kunari: “This may be the world’s first apolitical political revolution.”
Street theatre, then.
So, have military coups to overthrow democratically governments. (No protests.) Jail people for criticizing a dead drunk. (No protests.) But allow a woman to enter a government building wearing a head scarf and suddenly all you freedom-istas are all aflutter.
What a revolution.
I think you are having a cognitive dissonance problem. Erdogan is on the side of the “salafi head choppers.” pl
Col: You are right. But, now it appears, so are we. See http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/06/13/obamas-betrayal-on-syria/
Does the ruthless discipline of the Turkish military ranks as it existed in the 60’s and 70’s still exist?
Hats off to these protestors. A modern militarized police force loosed on unarmed protestors is not a pretty sight and there has already been loss of life in Taksim Square. Good luck to you all.
Kunuri is da bomb.
I think the reality is somewhat more complicated than that.
Secularism has been supported by non-Sunni religious minorities in Turkey simply because of their fear of Sunni political domination of the state.
However, this Turkic secularism itself could not tolerate the existence of ethno-linguistic minorities within the Turkish Republic – thus the expulsion of the Pontic Greeks after 2500 years of having lived where they had lived and the constant state of conflict with Kurds.
On the other hand, AKP government’s machinations in Syria only has served to confirm the fears of religious minorities in Turkey.
The Ottomans, in my opinion, did a better job than either secularists or the AKP.
I could see that the supporters of Ata Turk arguing that he was only carrying out the necessary tasks for creating a nation-state in Anatolia ; expelling the undesirables as the opportunity presented itself; following the bloody pattern of nation-state creation through swords in Western Europe.
I cannot, however, be sympathetic to AKP – where the Hell is their practice of “Islamic Brotherhood” and avoiding Fitna among the “Ummah” – not in Syria you will not find it.
I do not know who is worse; both sides are, in my view, extremists that do not let people choose for themselves are ever eager to write a perscription for everyone.
you are distorting history. The men who made Republican Turkey were nearly all Sunnis. There are few religious minorities in Turkey today. The secularists in the streets are Sunnis. pl
Not at all; I was aware of their religious affiliation but they were secular-Suunis.
The Alevi population is estimated at 20 million -based on Internet sources.
Albayim, tesekkurler, I am truly honored, and to be truthful I spent all day today wondering whether I should have posted my commentary, fearing that it may sound too emotional for a blog like this, whose cool headed logical commentary I come to appreciate since 2007. I am an artist, Production Designer, by profession, and this is the first righteous revolution I am witnessing live on the ground. So my hope is that emotion that crept in may be taken within the context of the moment.
I am also honored by your comment “You ARE one of Ataturk’s soldiers”, being the son of a Turkish Army Colonel, who was a young lieutenant in Korea 52-53, in spirit and profession a true soldier of Ataturk. I have lived in United States for 30 years before moving to Turkey, and as a true American from the first year I got there, I see nothing that is going on in this revolution contrary to the true American ideals as stated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. On the other hand, I can make a case with my limited argumentation skills that everything the AKP government doing here, and all their political positions are in contradiction, or/and opposition to the American ideals based on these two documents.
It was a pleasant surprise for me to witness first hand that the demands and grieviences of all those people, young and old, rich and poor, from all walks of life have coincided with all my own beliefs and ideals that I possess. Even more pleasant to see was how universal are the American ideals I came to believe in, which until now seemed to be in contradiction to everything I see or experience here. All of a sudden, an invisible mass of people materialized around which made me feel at right at home. And home being not a particular place, but a state of mind.
I am posting some internet links here where the story is chronicled visually, where a picture is superior to thousand words for those who have more than a thousand words in their vocabulary. Others need not bother. And some additional links as well where the journalism is in depth and unbiased to the extent its possible. Simple internet gleaning will provide all the information for those interested.
It is also amazing to realize just how far reaching Ataturk’s vision is. He was no dogmatist, whereas his followers became after his death, or a dictator in life as some would claim. He knew both the constructive and destructive nature of power. He had faith, not in a particular power, God or religion but in himself and his people. In his struggles, he had been bottled up, treaded on, shot at, oppressed and vilified but found his way out based on universal truths, never to be put back in as witnessed recently by the generation he trusted his masterpiece Turkish Republic. Turkey has no written constitution, but Ataturk’s legacy and ideals will suffice.
That is a higher percentage than I have ever seen. I doubt that many Alavis are secularists. pl
Good luck, Kunuri. I hope your optimism and that of your countrymen prevails, though the cynic in me fears for you all.
William R. Cumming, Sir,
Discipline is crucial in any Army as long as it is sustained voluntarily by those who impose it and those who function under it. It takes form according to the culture it originates from. The discipline of Turkish Army is, and have always been no different than a typical family discipline structure at any given time in retrospect.
As in current Turkish Army, discipline is still harsh, but its a different Army than my father’s time. As the Turkish family structure has changed over the decades, so did the Turkish Army. It is now more professional, specialized, modern and effective despite the fact that it is still mainly a conscript Army. The officer corps are well trained, worldly and able. The Army is well equipped and adoptable, but best of all traditionally highly motivated. Military service still is a right of passage for all able Turkish men. It is still a badge of honor for any family to sustain a death of a son during military service bar none, by the saying “May the homeland live long”. It seems to me now that the current Turkish Army is an Army of brains rather than brawns. Reputed medieval discipline of the Turkish army is a myth of the past. I would rate it in the top four around the world without ranking. US, Chinese, Israeli and Turkish. And yes, I left out the Russians. To have an effective Army is not about resources or numbers.
Thank you, we need your support, since there are only two leverages that can motivate the current regime towards the unknown democratic waters as far as they understand it, international support for the dissenters and an economic sting. Loss of prestige and perks, though not of life and limb will move them.
I imagine that they want Turkish state to remain secular so that they are not oppressed by the Sunni-majority.
To the extent that I know the Alevi here, they have an instinctive understanding that faith and worldly affairs should not intermingle. They also value highly education and positive science, and are fully aware of the dualism of the truths of positive sciences and faith. As much as they still harbor the rebellious spirit and victimhood in their souls, they prefer to express it through peaceful means, music and art. They are mild, peaceful and articulate. They do not impose or flaunt their particular beliefs. They are not owners of corporations or have ambitions beyond providing their families with necessities, education included and being foremost. So, to create a fault line between the majority Sunni in Turkey and Alevi minority will be difficult-no Alevi will come out to play on that turf.
A victory is already won. Any following so called victory by anyone else will be a Pyrrhic victory.
All that is achieved by the protesters here will be gains and a role model for the rest of the world. Including United States primarily.
Isn’t the correct spelling “the”? Oh, maybe it is so in “Southpark” and “Beevis and Butthead”.
BK: heavy voter turnout in Iran today. Any insight?
Sir, every paragraph of what you posted here is wrong and misinformed.
“I could see that the supporters of Ata Turk arguing that he was only carrying out the necessary tasks for creating a nation-state in Anatolia ; expelling the undesirables as the opportunity presented itself; following the bloody pattern of nation-state creation through swords in Western Europe.”
Just this, I mean, I don’t know where to start and I am no intellectual or historian. And this,
“However, this Turkic secularism itself could not tolerate the existence of ethno-linguistic minorities within the Turkish Republic – thus the expulsion of the Pontic Greeks after 2500 years of having lived where they had lived and the constant state of conflict with Kurds”
How does Anatolian Greeks leaving Turkey, after the bitter revolutionary war 1919-1922, albeit agreed by both Turkish and Greek governments at the time mutually as the Turks living in Greece emigrating to Turkey, and the Kurdish minority claims and grieviences relate are beyond me.
And how and when did the Greeks, Rum, of Anatolia became undesirables? And Pontic Greeks of Northern Anatolia, who did ever expel them? And how do the Prejudices and belief systems of people of power differed from us now in making political decisions, and how they should be judged in context? Given today’s standards, anyone can be made into a tyrant, or an event into a humanitarian outrage.
And also, “Turkic” is such a wide ranging generalization, Azeris, Turkmens, Uzbeks and Khazars, Pechenchs, Tartars, Kachkars are Turkic peoples, what did have to do with Ataturk and modern Turkish Republic. Such hasty generalizations add nothing to your hasty judgments.
And furthermore, its “Ataturk”, I guess you are as hasty and as bad in spelling as I am. And believe me, I would be the first to applaud AKP administration in Turkey coming straight out and saying they are for sharia and against modernism and Ataturk. Why pretend to be liberal and democratic and carry out a different agenda visible to all except to those who benefit from it? Why deny modernity in all its implications and systems, including the nation state and democracy and still drive a Mercedes and use an I pad? Why pretend to respect the ballot box and once in power resort to most medieval methods for retaining and consolitading power? And responding most violently to any rightful dissent so violently? What’s so liberal about that? How Muslim is that?
Ataturk a dead drunk?
I have in the mail your AKP party membership card accompanied by my nomination for the Pulitzer prize of the year for the best political commentary. And also for the head mullah for the local religious madrasa, the students would appreciate your brilliance and learn from you, as I do.
I know the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, although it was suitable, this tune was a different one. Hallelujah being the stanza, in a most angelic, non religious tone. No wonder people were mesmerized. Hallelujah is ancient, it must have hit something in the genes of people listening here. Still, it was a most magical moment.
Good luck Kunuri, all of us in Australia hope you succeed.
“It was a pleasant surprise for me to witness first hand that the demands and grieviences of all those people, young and old, rich and poor, from all walks of life have coincided with all my own beliefs and ideals that I possess. Even more pleasant to see was how universal are the American ideals I came to believe in, which until now seemed to be in contradiction to everything I see or experience here. All of a sudden, an invisible mass of people materialized around which made me feel at right at home. And home being not a particular place, but a state of mind.”
Beautifully put, Kunuri. If this spirit is sustained, who knows, maybe Turkey’s example can breathe a little life back into the cool embers of the Arab spring.
In any case, thank you for a lovely frontline report.
Thank you for your comments.
The Pontic Greeks were as much Greek as Germans in Saxony were English.
Their languages were mutually un-intelligible and their cultures different as well.
Who gave the authority over them to the Greek (Hellenic) Government of Hellas?
The Father of Turks and his cohorts wanted to create a “Modern Nation-State” along the European models – the Pontic Greeks were another bunch of undesirables.
And the Greek Government, equally eager to get rid of its undesirables – namely Turkic Muslims – agreed to take the Pontic Greeks so as to get rid of the Turks.
That is all.
It reminds of the story of the cattle rustler who would slaughter the stolen cattle and distribute the meat among the poor and the needy.
He was asked why he did so, and he replied the sin of theft is cancelled by his act of charity; in between the hide was his to sell.
Greeks got rid of the Turks, the Turks got rid of Pontic Greeks, and the Muslim residents of northern Anatolia helped themselves to the property of the Pontic Greeks.
All in all, another splendid example of how Middle Eastern culture has functioned for hundreds of years – no Modernity here in all of its implications and systems here.
I will attempt to respond to some of the questions that you have raised in your last paragraph.
AKP, in my view, is still a step forward for a political Sunni Islamist party; at least it has accepted the existence of others within the body politic that do not fall under the tent of Sunni Orthopraxy.
You and other partisans of Mustapha Kemal have no idea what Western Modernity in its implications means – it means, among other things, practices that no one with any honor would accept in Turkey – such as contractual homosexual marriage, bare-chested women in beaches, gay-pride rallies etc.
Every single “Modern” state with Democracy and the Rule of Law is a Christian State – there are exactly 23 of them – in North America and Western Europe.
Turkey can never be “Modern” in their sense – that is not possible.
Every time the “Mo’azan” calls people to pray, it is a call to God. In a Muslim polity, such as Turkey, Free Speech as practiced in those 23 Modern states is impossible.
For that would mean that the Call of Prophet (to God) is no longer the dominant and defining speech of the society – it just another opinion.
Which would mean, by implication, that the Prophet was wrong to call the Arabs to God and go against their polytheistic diversity. That he was an enemy of “Modernity” and had sinned against Freedom of Speech Expression by proscribing the exercise of Free Speech and Freedom of Religion.
Now, this is what “Modernity” would imply; in my opinion.
Are you sure that you want to walk down that path?
Heh, “da bomb” (as opposed to “the bomb”) is an American slang indicating admiration (albeit in a pop culture superstar-esque sense). I suspect no disrespect (and, indeed, much respect) was meant.
If the US is to apply a no fly zone over Syria wouldn’t its airbase in Southern Turkey be central to that operation?
Kunuri suggests Erdogan’s adventures in Syria are now finished. Are Western plans for Syria now made largely impossible by events in Turkey?
Brilliant argumentation, when I figure out how do you get from one premise to the next, I will post a response. But I get the feeling I don’t agree with you. And I sense quite a bit of bias, then again it may not be so, I will know when I figure your point.
OK, thanks, CS Gas makes one touchy.
I am afraid so sir, both for the resons that Erdogans Syria policy is unpopular, but it had never found expression in the press until the protests and RTE being depicted as a sultan on the cover of The Economist and as Hitler on Bild, makes it impossible for him to justify any move on humanitarian and democratic grounds. I mean, from now on any peace conference he attends to, how, with a straight face, he can condemn the violence in Syria? Please go up blog and look at some of the photos from last two weeks.
So, Turkey is out of the game effectively. May still play a support role behind the scenes, but any rhetoric based action from Turkey vis a vis Syria should not be expected in the short run.
Yes, Kuniri, it was meant admiringly. You gave a wondrous account. It gives one hope that the evils of “1984” can be circumvented by access to communications and freedom of information.(Thanks, kkc 🙂
“I know the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, although it was suitable, this tune was a different one. Hallelujah being the stanza, in a most angelic, non religious tone.”
Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”?
On the road and late to the string.
All the best, Kunuri.
Thank you for your kind words.
I would be eager to hear what your response would be.
It is clear to me that in Europe and North America the Ministry of Jesus is being supplanted by a sort of neo-paganism harkening back to Paleolithic times.
May be mankind could be happy only as pagan savages of stone-age period.
Wonderful reporting real time thank you .
When will the next elections be in Turkey ? And will there be a roll back of the Erdogan agenda – which parties might exert themselves ?
It was good also to hear that in your opinion Incirlik will not be able to be used as any anchor for a Syrian no fly zone. My read here in the USA – President Obama is going through the ‘shadow boxing’ of doing something about Syria – but has decided some while back we will not have direct military intervention into their Civil War .
Stay safe & God bless
You and Mr Sullivan are wrong we are not going to Syria militarily in an intervention there .
AE: I would be happy to be wrong.
That ranking is a joke: The Chinese couldn’t fight the North Vietnamese, a former client state; Israel was donkey punched by Hizballah; Russia and US, have not been able to subdue a bunch of sand monkeys; and, Turkey hasn’t fought except as Janissaries for NATO and US in Korea and Vietnam. You equate destructive firepower with courage and bravery. Fighting for ‘the homeland’ smacks of fascism and idiotic nationalism and any Turk that died in those conflicts far from home reminds me of those Aussies that died at Gallipoli for the Brits.
Yes sir, it was! Thank you, I have been racking my brains to remember who’s song it was, what confused me was that it was a woman who sang it, and I missed the stanza doing something.
So far as I know Turkey played no role in VN. pl