Tag Archives: Turkey

#OccupyGezi

Waving flag

The Turkish people are rising up to say no more autocracy, no more fear. In case your media has blacked out what’s going on, Al Jazeera has a few good articles, this is an excellent summary and you can also check out these reports of the events earlier in the week and Christiane Amanpour’s 9 minute overview of the initial unrest. What started out as a peaceful sit-in to protect one of Istanbul’s last green spaces has turned into a nation-wide demand for human rights with at least hundreds of thousands of people in cities across Turkey taking part. Police have continuously used excessive force in the form of tear gas, water cannons, pepper spray and beatings to squelch Turks’ rights to protest, and expressly tried to conceal their own identities while doing so. There have also been reports of undercover police acting as agents provocateurs to incite violence between the people and the government. To understand what this direniş, what this kind of protest, demonstration and movement mean to Turks I think this translation will be really helpful.

Turks crossing the Bosphorous Bridge going to Taksim

Turks crossing the Bosphorous Bridge going to Taksim

The graffiti reads For Sale and False News

The graffiti reads For Sale and False News

And if you need to know why you should care, read this article, and this letter to the world. International Support is flowing to Turkey from Germany, the Netherlands, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Scotland, Portugal, France, Africa, all over the US and elsewhere. Signs from all over the world proclaim Her Yer Direniş! Her Yer Gezi! Resistance everywhere! Everywhere is Gezi! Amnesty International and many governments have condemned the AK Partı‘s use of force against protesters. If you’re a more visual learner you have to stop by the #OccupyGezi tumblr, and see these articles. For those who have never experienced the beauty that is Istanbul, this video might help give you a taste of the action.

Syrian refugees

International solidarity

Support from France

Africa is with you

Turkey Resistance Africa is with You

Support from #OccupyBahrain

Support from #OccupyBahrain

These (mostly) nonviolent protests have spurred some amazing creativity with everything from political cartoons to witty graffiti. The sit-in in Taksim Gezi Parkı began with poetry readings and songs and the ensuing state-sponsored brutality has also spurred music. This video is what has moved me most since this all began. Others were moved to donate to Indiegogo’s fastest-ever campaign–to buy a full page ad in The New York Times explaining Diren Gezi Parkı.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

The Revolution WIll Not Be Televised

Chomsky capulcu

Hashtags like #OccupyGezi #DirenGeziParki #OccupyIstanbul #OccupyTaksim and #HumanRightsforTurkey and calls of “Tayyip Istifa” (resign) and “AKP Istifa” filled the more than 2 million tweets (90% of which came from within Turkey) that caused AK Partı leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to denounce social media as “the worst menace to society.” The expressions “everyday I’m çapuling” (pronounced chap-pull-ing) and “çapulmatik” were in turn spurred by Prime Minister Erdoğan’s insults to the protesters which included terrorists, drunks, fringe radicals and çapulcular or looters. The government’s insistence that this is merely a few angry liberals upset over some trees fueled the international fire against them, with Anonymous making good on their promise to take down government websites. Many are claiming that the PM’s most recent speech is tantamount to calling for civil war, with right-wing supporters chanting “Ergdoğan we will die for you!”

Once the media gag ended 6 newspapers' headlines read "We'd lay down our lives for 'democratic demands'" after AK Partı supporters threatened to "crush them all."

Once the media gag ended 6 newspapers’ headlines read “We’d lay down our lives for ‘democratic demands'” after AK Partı supporters threatened to “crush them all,” referring to the mounting opposition against the government.

A creative take on the AK Parti lightbulb logo

A creative take on the AK Partı lightbulb logo

Here are your drunk looters, helal, of course.

Here are your drunk looters, helal, of course.

For all the reports of deaths and all the police brutality and negativity that has come from this the one constant positive has been the Turkish people’s ability to band together, whether behind Guy Fawkes masks or gas masks, to defend the ideals of a Turkish nation based upon democracy and freedom. They have announced that the streets are for everyone, even as police crack down across the country. There are also some pretty cool pictures and a badass concert. And of course as in any good protest there are companies to boycott and strikes to pursue, and Türkiye also threw in a really creative display of support from Turkish Airlines, the national airline.

Rainbow flag

ResIstanbul 2

A very typical friendship between Turkish women

A very typical friendship between Turkish women

There have been great shows of support and camaraderie between çapulcular regardless of their gender, age, class or political bent. The majority of protesters have vowed to be peaceful, even in the face of gross brutality, and have denounced rock throwing, vandalism and actual looting. But there hasn’t been much need for looting since across the country Turks are supporting each other in ways big and small, with food, water, shelter, medical help, and knowledge.

Turkish survival kit

Tear Gas Solution

The Ascent to Heaven: no alcohol, no battle, no profanity, no provocation, NO VIOLENCE! There will be respect, peace, prayer, action, and tasty treats!

The Ascent to Heaven: no alcohol, no battle, no profanity, no provocation, NO VIOLENCE! There will be respect, peace, prayer, action, and tasty treats!

Women of all ages have played a large part in this uprising. From Ceyda Sungur the now famous Woman in Red, to women in hijab to pregnant women, Türkiye’nin kadınları are showing that their fear of the government is just as real and important to the discussion of freedom as their male counterparts. With the recent restrictions on abortion, public displays of affection and even alcohol, the women of Turkey are fed up with having their morals dictated to them. And not all of them want three children.

Ist Feminist Collective

Woman vs Water Cannon

Woman in Red Dress

Kick the can

Finally I want to leave you with this, a desperate plea from a student who is afraid of his government and who wants the world to understand that this is about freedom, even if it costs him his.

What's happening?

Dutch newspaper


Israel/Palestine vs. Turkey/Kurdistan

Before I say anything about these two highly controversial, generally violent, and inherently unjust political and territorial situations I want to make my views on geo-political borders in general clear, first.

I do not believe in borders. I believe in the free and uninhibited movement of people, goods, ideas, and cultures all around the globe. I totally support individuals and/or communities in maintaining their ethnic identities including their languages, cultures, foods, clothing, traditions, dances, holidays, celebrations, etc. but personally I see no use in using violence to maintain imaginary lines on a map. I understand cultural, especially spiritual, ties to specific places, like certain Native American cultures have to specific rivers, lakes, forests and mountains, however, delineating certain areas as “ours” as opposed to “theirs” requires the “othering” of anyone outside the specific ethnicity.

I understand that the elimination of geo-political borders is not feasible at the moment, and would cause utter chaos and potentially even more violence and destruction, and so, I will engage you, dear readers, in a political discussion about these two hotly contested areas within the confines of the currently accepted understanding of nation-states, borders and “states’ rights.” In any case I entirely denounce violence as ineffective and immoral and would ONLY support nonviolent efforts by any actors hoping to have their human rights recognized. So then, the question I have for the world wide web (which I hope will be answered with intelligent, thoughtful commentary and constructive ideas, not jingoistic, trolling rants) is this:

 

How does the situation of Palestinians in the internationally recognized (but contested) borders of Israel differ from the situation of Kurds in Turkey?

 

 

I would especially like to hear opinions from Palestinians, Kurds, Turks, and Israelis, and people with experience in any of these lands. I am also interested in the views of people of any other ethnicities living within the borders of Israel and Turkey.

Does religion make a difference in the discussion? Does language make a difference? How effective have nonviolent efforts been in advancing the human rights of Palestinians and Kurds? Is the situation of women in the oppressed/unrecognized regions similar? Would the causes of Palestinian independence and Kurdish independence benefit from each other’s input and support? Or would Palestinians feel they are betraying other Arabs or their Turkish allies in calling on the political recognition of Kurds’ rights? I have no answers but I would love to learn from the community and then form an opinion.

 


The Damning Effects of Militarization

Militarization is the process of making society believe that violence, especially war, is an effective way to solve conflict to the point that any nonviolent attempt to solve conflict is snidely dismissed as ineffective, liberal, feminine, sissy or a whole host of other derogatorily used terms. The global problem of militarization takes different forms in every country, and even within each community. In Israel and Palestine troops attack women protesting the occupation. In Colombia women are participants and victims of violence perpetrated at every level of society. In Uganda those participating in the Walk to Work protest have been met with tear gas and bullets by the government’s security forces. I should be upfront here and say flat-out that I am very far left in my ideas of effective government: I don’t believe in borders or states. Imagine if the $553 billion defense bill just approved by the House was money spent on education, or healthcare, or ending violence….

Militarization is a gender issue. A gender issue is anything that disproportionately affects men, women, boys, girls and/or intersex or transgender adults or youth. Therefore, because militarization has a hugely disproportionate effect on men, men’s violences, and masculinities, it is a gender issue. It is also a gender issue in that anything defined as masculine can only be defined in opposition to that which is feminine, and because militarization of a given society negatively impacts men’s attitudes towards and treatment of women.

Many right-wing misogynists claim that feminists hate men, or that gender issues are only women’s issues, but militarization is a prime example of the genuine concern for well-being that many feminists around the world have for men who are part of the military. In graduate school one of my most influential professors, Dr. Sara Sharratt, opened my eyes to a reality that is often denied: killing people is not natural for anyone, male or female; men must be trained to kill. And as her work as a psychologist working with soldiers returning from war taught her, many men react negatively to having killed someone. The stress, trauma and horror that soldiers endure in battle is much too high a price for the false promise of “protecting freedom.”

Here in Turkey males are required by law to serve in the military, reinforcing the idea that there is honor in using violence. The belief in the effectiveness of violence is so strong in Turkey that even liberal, feminist groups condone the use of violence in protests and do not see the need or efficacy of strategic nonviolent action. Very few groups speak out against militarization here. One effect of this belief is that, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch, 47% of women in Turkey experience some kind of physical or sexual intimate partner violence within their lifetimes, regardless of education, class, religion, or region and much too few women’s shelters to accommodate the need. Violence between a couple is seen by police, the government, and society, to be a personal problem and victims are constantly told that they cannot expect their partners to be nonviolent.

In the United States there is better enforcement of laws against domestic violence and yet 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men in the US are victims of intimate violence at some point in their lives. Militarization in America is slightly more subtle than in Turkey, but commercials to “Go Navy,” be “Army Strong,” and join “The Few, the Proud, the Marines” constantly inundate television viewers. At the same time military recruiters are present on junior high, high school and college campuses to convince children that the military is their best route out of their hometown. Militarization is therefore a compounded heap of inequalities: class, race, gender, education, location, language, ability, and age.

Militarization in the US is forced on Americans at a very young age, when children at sporting events see the poorly named Blue Angels fly overhead with a roar as a giant American flag is unfurled across the playing field. The idealization of being a servant of war as a good, honorable thing is fed to Americans to serve the greed of the corporate world. We are taught from the time we can talk that America is the best place in the world, the most just, the most equal, the fairest. We have been lied to. We are told these things so that when our Commander-in-Chief calls on us to “protect freedom and liberty” and “stand up to injustice” our first response is to join the military killing machine so we can “serve our great nation.” This idea that the best thing a person can do for his country, the most masculine act possible, is serve in the military totally discounts the experiences of a great number of people in America including disabled men, transgender or intersex men, openly gay or bisexual men, men who believe in nonviolence, and women.

Unfortunately it is only after the damage of war has been done that many of the wide-eyed military recruits become hardened advocates for peace. The brave men and women who understand the error of the US’s ways in using violence and force to fill corporate pockets have formed a number of anti-war groups. Founded in 1985, Veterans for Peace, is seeking signatures for a petition to bring the troops home from Afghanistan. One of the newer organizations, Iraq Veterans Against the War, seeks an end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and is pressuring the military to provide better care for returning vets. Vietnam Veterans Against the War states “We believe that service to our country and communities did not end when we were discharged. We remain committed to the struggle for peace and for social and economic justice for all people. We will continue to oppose senseless military adventures and to teach the real lessons of the Vietnam War. We will do all we can to prevent another generation from being put through a similar tragedy and we will continue to demand dignity and respect for veterans of all eras. This is real patriotism and we remain true to our mission.”

Cynthia Enloe renowned author and feminist, is one of the voices at the forefront of the anti-militarization effort. This piece nicely summarizes Enloe’s main arguments against militarization and its effects on women. Even non-governmental organizations, international organizations and peacekeeping missions are fraught with problems because of militarization, as Enloe and my professor Nadine Puechguirbal explain in a talk here on Haiti. For me, the most compelling argument against militarization is that violence does not work. It is ineffective! Nonviolent action, especially when used strategically, is an extremely effective tool for change and one that I hope more people will begin to utilize once they understand its efficacy. I will forever be indebted to Dr. Mary King for teaching me the strategy of nonviolence. In the future I will write a post summarizing the ideas behind SNVA.

If you want to do something to help end the militarization that is damaging the world here are a few ideas: teach girls to be strong, both physically and emotionally; teach boys they have a right to feel emotions and express them; teach all children the importance of respectful problem solving and dialogue; teach young people that there are many ways they can serve their country other than military service, including the Peace CorpsAmeriCorps, Job Corps, the Medical Reserve Corps, Citizen Corps, the Civilian Response Corps, and Serve Corps, as well as through thousands of non-governmental and non-profit groups; learn about strategic nonviolent action and then share what you know; and most importantly, practice strategic nonviolent action to bring an end to injustices around the world!


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