The Firsthand Account of Zehra – A Turkish Protester – OccupyGezi

Less than an hour ago, I found myself engaged in direct conversation with an individual from Ankara, Turkey’s capital city, who is in the midst of the movement taking place there (known on the Internet as Occupy Gezi (direngeziparki)). In the current political climate of the country, it is dangerous to find yourself documented as being in opposition to the government. To protect her from potential retaliation, her true identity shall not be disclosed. I started the discussion by asking her to describe the events of recent days, as well as the role (or lack thereof) that media has played in the struggle:

“I live in Ankara, the capital city as a university student. today, for all day i was kind of fighting with the police forces. the demonstration began in a very peaceful way in Kızılay, the centre of the city and we were protesting both the demolishing of Gezi Park and the fact that NO TURKISH CHANNEL informed Turkish people about what is going on in their country. This is not normal believe me. yesterday 5 of my foreign friends asked me if i am all right. they thought there was a civil war or something here while my own family, living in İzmir do not know anything about the incidents.

If i wasn’t on facebook i wouldn’t know either. this is so ridiculous. How come the media does not cover that kind of news happening all over the country? this provoked us more, to be honest. and what happened today? some channels talked about the incidents as if it was a simple riot and police HAD TO use water cannon and tear gas to the people but NOW EVERYTHING IS FINE. the PM made a speech, saying that he acknowledges the excessive use of power of police forces. The governor said ‘we made a mistake, we may reconsider the decision about the park’ so everything was okay since that moment.

but no. it was not. after the news, the PM’s speech turned out to end saying that he will demolish the park NO MATTER WHAT. he challenged the whole nation and we watched the speech on CNN INTERNATIONAL. not on a Turkish channel. they fooled us. it is unacceptable.

then in Kızılay, police attacked us with not a tear gas but a chemical that we do not know what. it was so bad that i passed out a couple times. I am diabetic and i dropped my insulin to the ground. a police officer smashed it. i couldn’t inject insulin! They tried to KILL us by throwing gas bombs into subways in which we were trying to protect ourselves. we couldn’t breathe. they didnt let us get out of there. the police, that exists to PROTECT us tried to kill us. his own people. this is awful.

the PM and his government somehow bought the MEDIA, police, judges, even the soldiers! we have no one but ourselves. that is why the demonstrations turned out to be about his resign. He acts like a monarch! in our lands which our grandfathers died for. we are the daughters, sons of ATATURK and we will not let him waste all the efforts of him and our grands in Independence War.

I am just trying to spread what really is going on here. Now that the Turkish Media chose to shut up we are working like war journalists here. Thanks for your time and energy. I really respect that. Thank you on behalf of the Turkish Nation.”

At this point in the conversation, Zehra was incredibly exhausted and in need of rest to prepare herself for what tomorrow shall bring. I asked her to describe what she believes the result of these efforts will be and what she believes will come of this movement. She said,

“Unfortunately i dont think that he will easily resign. If we can make it as a whole like today we can have a chance to prevent this from becoming an islamic country. But the real problem is that today when the police forces were exhausted and out of gas a group that i think is supporters of the government, a radical islamic group, appeared and attacked us. So out of this it may change into a civil war. If we, as the real protestors do not let them provoke us like that and if we can endure for a week or something we can get what we want”

People from around the world direct their gaze to the streets of Turkey where a peaceful environmental demonstration launched into a full-scale social movement with protests sprouting up in cities across the nation, provoked by violent and excessive attacks by police forces under the direction of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Leader of the Justice and Development Party, an Islamist, conservative political party. A look at recent events, and the media that is coming out of the movement, is available here. I stand in solidarity with the citizens of Turkey in their battle against an oppressive regime, unwarranted force, and rampant human rights violations.

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