Journal of a “Chapulju”

For the last couple of weeks Turkey has been in turmoil. People have flooded the streets to oppose the government. The government answered with violence. Old and young have shown their support, though the majority are youngsters – Turkey itself is a young country. We invited one of the demonstrators, Tunca, to share his thoughts and views on our blog. He gave us access to some of the journal entries he has been posting on Facebook. 

Tunca

My name is Tunca Ayyildiz, I’m a 29-year-old proud Smyrniot (that is, a Turkish citizen from Izmir). I have a graduate degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in International Marketing. I took part as an activist in one of Europe’s biggest student associations for 6 years. I work as a trader in the maritime industry, selling fuel to the vessels. I am a big Besiktas Football Club fan and count myself as a Çarsi, one of the clubs passionate supporters, who, after recent events, have earned themselves the moniker ‘the dark knights of Istanbul.’

———

Dear friends,

I will take the time to write at length and in detail about just what happened in Istanbul. I was there in person and saw it all unfold.

Erdogan’s actions had such a huge impact in my area; they brought together the Goztepe and Karsiyaka football fans from Izmir. This may not seem extraordinary in itself but when you consider the bad blood that runs between the two groups and the violence that has erupted in the past (which has even resulted in fatalities), it makes you realise just how remarkable their coming together really was.

Another unusual alliance came in the form of strong nationalist Turkish groups and the Kurdish PKK supporters, who lined up side by side. I have witnessed this first-hand and now, I truly know that anything is possible. Now, we are proud and happy and we remain strong together. As the famous Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet said many years ago: “A tree died, a nation has woken up.”

Today, Besiktas Football Club’s world famous supporters Çarsi, have returned home after showing their support for the cause by joining protestors – their commitment particularly evident during the struggles against the Turkish Police. It was Çarsi who stood at the front line, close to Gezi Park in Taksim Square. They stood face to face with the police and didn’t run when the violence flared.  Çarsi proved true to their famous motto: “Çarsi, Herseye Karsi!” (Çarsi, Against Everything.)

Loves,

Tunca

Istanbul, 01/06/2013

Just married and already demonstrating

Just married and already demonstrating

Good morning everyone

Another Monday, back in the office as if nothing has happened. But after this, nothing will ever be the same again.  It is an emotional time. Reading messages of support from our friends and families. The hair on my body has grown tired of getting goose bumps every five minutes from witnessing, reading, watching or hearing something remarkable.

I only got back from Gezi Park four hours ago. I got some sleep to make sure I have enough strength to get me through the day and I left my dirty, protesting clothes at home. I’m now cleanly shaved and back in my smart 9-5 office clothes. But when I finish work, I’ll only stop by my home to pick up the aforementioned protesting clothes, grab any more protective gear I can transform into make amour, then hit the road to Taksim. And I can promise one thing, my protest clothes will not be getting cleaned until all this is over! Yes there are a multitude of stains on them but they are all memories of what is happening. A moment in history. There is a footprint on my knee, some oil stains on the lower leg of my trousers and a huge stain of the “resistance” on the left upper part of my T-shirt, right over my heart, where “Izmir” is written.

A "library" in Gezi Park

A “library” in Gezi Park

People are sharing their personal contact details on social media, for those who need emergency medical assistance, attorney services etc. Locals are taking strangers into their homes as refugees. There are even a few of motorcycle gangs getting involved in the cause, who are on constant standby to pick up any protestors left stranded and far from home.

I’ve had only two or three hours of sleep in the last three days but I feel like a firehouse.  I will conserve my energy today, more to calm down the provocateurs, who are the biggest threat to this peaceful movement – both those who do it deliberately and those who cannot tolerate the brutal attacks taking place. This energy is meant to be used for peaceful resistance: we do not fight them, we do not attack to harm because that is not our aim. Even though they do not, we do care about the abused police. Even though we do not support them, they are still human beings and we are aware of the fact that they have families out there who are also worried for them. We will only resist and continue to send out our message to stop the provocateurs and clean the streets – until the Prime Minister opens his eyes.

Peacefully yours,

Tunca

Istanbul, 03/06/2013

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All photos courtesy of Tunca Ayyildiz.

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