8 Temmuz 2013 Pazartesi


The footnote links do not work; you will have to scroll down to to the footnotes for expanded information. There are only two footnotes this time anyway. Sorry for the inconvenience, I'm no expert!.

Other links should work.

The Gezi park has been cordoned off, governor Mutlu of Istanbul has promised to reopen it. But obviously the AKP government can not be expected to rush to reopen a park that has become synonymous with a popular uprising against itself. On Saturday, June 6th, the police- supported by thugs in civilian clothes- once again reacted strongly against demonstrators wanting to reclaim it.[1] Only a few hours earlier, Governor Mutlu had tried to ward off the demonstration, slated for 19:00 Saturday, by announcing that the park would be officially opened to the public the following day, Sunday the 7th, which also did not materialize. The ceremonious reopening was finally realized today, Monday the 8th, with Governor Mutlu admonishing us all to behave from now on, and never occupy a public park for a political demonstration, completely bypassing the question of how and why the park came to be occupied in the first place.

To keep the Gezi spirit alive without the Gezi park itself, evening forums have been organized in parks around the country, supported by marching processions for different occasions on this or that street. On June 24th we ran into, and joined, a crowd marching to protest the shooting of Ethem Sarısülük at Kızılay, Ankara on June 1st.

Crowd marching down Sıraselviler in Kadıköy on June 24th, 2013. The immediate pretext is the death of Ethem Sarısülük, killed after he was shot by a police bullet during demonstrations. They are marching past the Süreyya Opera House, the story of which you can read in "A Fine Audience", 7 March- Mart 2012. With the State Opera and Ballet now directly targeted by the AKP government, the Süreyya Opera House is also under threat.
(Image from my own camera.)

Sarısülük was participating in the Gezi-related protest when, during a skirmish, he was shot by a bullet fired by a police officer. There are several videoclips on the net of the moment. Here’s one, in slo mo; you be the judge.

Sarısülük died in hospital on June 12th. The officer claimed self defense, and has been released pending trial.

On July 2nd the forums of several parks joined in a long and vocal march through the Kadıköy area of Istanbul, the date being the anniversary of the burning of a hotel in Sivas, with the occupants in it, twenty years ago in 1993. The Madımak Hotel was hosting the the guests of a Cultural Festival honoring the 16th century Alawite mystic poet Pir Sultan Abdal. Opponents- fanatical Sunnites- first staged a protest, which was dispersed, but then reassembled and marched to the hotel, throwing stones, burning vehicles, and then the hotel itself. 35 people- 33 guest intellectuals and artists and two members of the hotel staff- died in the fire.

The Madımak Hotel in Sivas on fire before gleeful chanting mob,  July 2nd 1993.
(Image from the media.)
The ensuing trials dragged on, with a total of 33 death sentences and 14 prison sentences for up to 15 years (November 28th, 1997). The death sentences were never carried out, and with the abolition of capital punishment in 2002, they were commuted to life imprisonment. There are 8 escapees since 1997, the case against five of them has been dropped on March 13th, 2013, in accordance with the Statute of Limitations.

Because the Sivas arsonists are representative of   
the electoral base of the AKP, and because they targeted intellectuals and artists gathered to honor an Alawite mystic, the occasion was ripe for yet another anti-government protest, to keep the Gezi fires burning at a time when the park itself was being held captive.

The long march in Kadıköy, July 2nd 2013.
(Image from my own camera.)

"In a burned out place, it is our duty to live on, to live and remain human!" 
Protest march on July 2nd in Kadıköy in memory of the arsoned hotel in Sivas.
(Image from my own camera.)

The forum at Yoğurtçu Park, Kadıköy, after the march, July 2nd, 2013.
(İmage from my own camera.)

A major event was planned for Sunday, July 7th, at the ferry piers area of Kadıköy, Istanbul- the “1st Gasman Festival”. The theme, apart from the gas, was protesting the pressures on free press, and the event was supported by some channels, newspapers, radio stations, and a news website.[2]

 Poster for the "Gasman" Festival.

 Kickoff was set for 17:30, and pretty soon Turkey had its own Woodstock off and rolling. The crowd- I defy anyone to count it- rocked with protest music, interspersed with slogans shouted in unison. This was the young face of Turkey, whatever the age of the participants. It was also the helpful face of Turkey, of communal spirit- if someone fell ill, the concert was interrupted to call for a doctor, and a pathway was opened through the crowd to allow access; if a child was lost, the concert was interrupted again until the child was found. The Gezi spirit was rekindled once more as crowds stood for seven full hours (17:30-00:30) to sing, shout, and jive.

The 1st Gasman Festival at Kadıköy, İstanbul, July 7th, 2013.
(Image from the media.)

1. Gazdanadam Festivali, Kadıköy, İstanbul, 7 Temmuz 2013.
The First Gasman Festival, Kadıköy, Istanbul, July 7th, 2013.
(Videoclip from the internet.)

Kurtalan Ekspres Gazadam festivalinde Dönence'yi söylüyor.
The group Kurtalan Ekspres singing Dönence ("Turnabout") at the "Gasman" festival.
(Videoclip from the Internet.)

Boğaziçi Caz Korosu Gazdanadam Festivali'nde: Çapulcu musun Vay Vay?
The Bosphorus Jazz Chorus singing "Are You a Marauder?" at the Gasman festival in Kadıköy. This is a variation of a traditional song with the refrain  Şekerli misin Vay vay? ("Were you made with sugar?".)
(Videoclip from the internet.)

[1] See “Yet More Music”, July 6th 2013.

[2] Television stations Cem TV, Halk TV, Ulusal, the newspapers Aydınlık, Cumhuriyet , Sol and Yurt, the Internet newssite Oda TV, the radio stations Cem Radyo and Yön Radyo. Feeling the event was taking on a “chauvinistic” slant, the pro-PKK newspaper BirGün pulled out.

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