POV

Fighting into the Night

a first hand account of the horrific incidents in Turkey on June 2nd 2013

Fighting into the Night story by: Ebru Debbag

Istanbul, June 2nd 2013

I woke up after a 2 hour sleep and realized that I have slept with the phone in my hand trying to check the tweets on Gezipark…The media coverage in Turkey is not working as the media does not provide the news on what is happening as supporters of the current government. We only have the social media to rely on for the real updates as well as HalkTv which is the only TV channel that is broadcasting what is happening.

The day started calmer then the previous night and we had pictures of the protestors cleaning up Taksim Sq and Gezi Park. The clouds that were casting the sky brought in rain and the tweets said not to give upon Gezi and come and join the crowd. I dressed to leave for GeziPark – my bottle of water with Talcid solution for the eyes to be used for the tear gas. several slices of lemon, my son’s goggles again to protect my eyes, lots of tissue and my courage as well as response to a call of duty.

I have been going to Gezi alone but I am not feeling lonely at all. There are thousands of people who want the same thing – to have their voices heard, to defend their rights. We have stayed silent far too long. The sacrifices of freedom came as small doses and piled up in time. OccupyGezi started as a naive act to protect a park in the middle of the city and now it is a declaration of our human rights. The police has been attacking with disproportionate security forces against the protestors for the past 4 days.

The government had declared ( the President himself ) that the use of the gas bombs had been “excessive’ after the events of last night so I was somewhat relieved that I might not need my survivor kit however still had to pack-up just in case. The Taksim square and Gezi Park cleaned by the protestors this morning were filled with happy, smiling faces with no police in sight. People were singing songs, thousands of young girls and boys having a picnic. I heard a loud applause and looked in the same direction a young guy was holding a sign saying “what if I am a homosexual?” and the crowd was giving an applause. The crowd looked tired but happy…After days of hard labor and fighting back with just our hearts we could enjoy the park on this late Sunday summer afternoon. I saw a sign saying “Free Speech” in the far end and people were taking turns to talk – talk freely. A young guy said that he had voted for the AKP party during the last election thinking that they would change Turkey for better and now he was saying that he was sorry and made a mistake and he was fighting back the police the last 2 days. People gave a mighty applause saying welcome my friend and we love you. The excited lady said that she had lost trust in the young generation thinking that they only cared about chatting on-line and she said that she needs to apologize. The young generation made the OcuppyGezi live. She got a mightier applause. The guy in deadlocks called for attention that the winners did not belong to a political party and we did this as individuals and need to declare OccupyGezi as an action of the public. I loved him for that. People were giving out free tea and snacks as well as water. People kept pouring in. I felt happy. I knew that this was a start of things – people waking up, people declaring their rights despite the limited media coverage, despite the excessive use of security forces, despite the sleepless nights. I also knew that this peaceful mood would not stay on.

The Prime Minister was alive on TV giving out a speech saying that it is up to him to decide what to do with the park. The speech was very much about what the Prime Minister thinks is right and he called the protestors as a bunch of looters. I felt proud to be looter. He does not consider the violent act of the police as disproportionate. The social media was referred as useless. The social media has been the only source of communication for the last 4 days.

On my way home I was filled with deep thoughts. I wanted us to invent a better future, I wanted the violence to stop, I wanted to be able say that all is well knowing that it would not be so at least not so soon.

Close to midnight Istanbul bleeds again. There is heavy gas bombing in Akaretler, the people who have come with their partners, kids with Turkish flags in their hands are subjected to severe violence. The only source of news is social media and HaberTv. Ankara, Adana are also under heavy gas bombing. People are calling for doctors. People are tweeting phone numbers of doctors,lawyers, cafes are opening up their doors to people who are fleeing away,

I am now home on the Asian side and I hear horns for the last 2 hours non-stop. People are gathering despite the rain which has started. Hundreds of people with Turkish flags in their hands and making noise with pots are walking on the street. Pots and Turkish flags against gas bombs and other security forces.

What does it take to bring a stop to all this ?

My son of 11 years who is now away from Istanbul asked me why my voice was so coarse and I tried to tell him briefly that there has been some turmoil and he told me to call the police. Is the police not the heroes of the kids and protect us from the mean bad guys ? What makes the heroes turn into those machines that keep on throwing gas bombs at their won people and kick or beat them?

Why won’t anyone bring a stop to this and start working on a better future using their brain power.

I know it will be another long sleepless night. A whole nation is waking up and it will not happen overnight.

2 Responses to “Fighting into the Night”

  1. Dani says:

    What a powerful piece, so raw and real. Thank you

  2. Matt says:

    Amazing coverage of these tragic events.