my friends in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir have distraught faces, weepy eyes and dark circles under their eyes. they have been out since Thursday walking and running for their basic human rights. i wish i was there. my little apartment in besiktas would be full of tear gas and pepper spray i am sure because my neighbours are posting on their facebook that they cannot open their windows, there is too much gas in the air. there is gas in their home. they have vinegar by their side to spray on their faces when a canister of tear gas explodes by their side.
after a dictatorship in Pakistan during my teens and then political turmoil soon after Zia-ul- Haq's plane exploded, the chaos and finding my way through to simply try and live a normal life had not been easy. i commuted to college in Karachi on buses that had no seats because it had been torched a few days ago. i took exams behind locked doors while student activists boycotted exams right outside setting fires to chairs and desks. curfew times, sirens, smoke and media silencing are not new to me but it will never be a normal way of life. anywhere. Turkey's cuurrent state of chaos is actually what the country needed for a long time.
the decade i lived in Turkey was during Erdogan's government. he started off promising democracy and he was able to push Turkey towards being more financially stable. only a few eeks ago Turkey was upgraded in ratings but OECD did show the Turkish people were unhappiest in the world. living in Turkey i saw the unhappiness and the growing misery....even though the EU applauded the PM for weakening the military in Turkey, the way it was done was not right. most of the military is behind bars with no court dates, all of them in there with a charge of conspiring against the government. then there are all the news of clashes on the border that the media could not report because if they did people would get fired, blacklisted or jailed. in the past three years things have gotten worse though. i felt judged getting on public transport wearing a dress, waiting at the bus stop was uncomfortable, overheard snide rude remarks, more western looking women were attacked...and then there was a recent ruling that stewardesses on Turkish Airlines could not wear red lipstick, alcohol would not be served...the ban encompassed public spaces followed a few weeks later.
a few friends of mine were at Gezi Park, they had their books, they had their tents where academics had their documents supporting the fact that the mall project was illegal. 5 am May 31st police came and attacked folks with tear gas and water cannons. they destroyed the tents and started to uproot the trees. the brutality sparked anger and friends of friends became a larger group that had enough. there have been reports that some protesters are taking out their anger on cars and shop windows and facebook posts are beginning to yell out stop to harming property, that would only decrease credibility.