Something is going on in Istanbul. Perhaps you’ve heard.
For several days now, police have been attacking peaceful protesters in Taksim Square. There are protests in Taksim all the time, and it is not unusual for police to show up with tear gas. But it’s gotten a little out of hand this time. The protesters were standing up against the demolishing of a public park for the development of a shopping mall. The police attacked the protest on Friday with tear gas, fire hoses, and an eager dose of violence, and it has only gotten worse since. It’s not so much about the park anymore.
Yesterday, I wore shorts. They were about fingertip-length. I knew I was really asking for it by wearing them in public, but it was hot out, and I wanted to be comfortable. I received repeated disapproving stares, tsk-tsk’s, and fist shakes at my exposed legs. It was made known to me that my decision to be comfortable did not bode well with the (specifically older) Turkish people. Well, Istanbul, now it’s my turn to disapprovingly stare, tsk-tsk, and shake my fist at your inappropriate gesture.
I’m not going to post photos on here, but please (please!) click here to see some really bewildering pictures as well as some very touching images of human kindness. [Edit: I have also just read this account from a Turkish woman. I encourage you to read it as well, as she does more justice to the situation than I am. With no media coverage, it is important to share articles like hers.]
Oh, Istanbul, you beautiful bastard! What’s going on?
I won’t make any grand political statements, because I don’t think I know the Turkish people well enough to speak for them. As an outsider who truly wants the best for this country, though, I can’t help but feel like my favorite team has just blown it in the last inning. Again. Progress here is still a long way off. Istanbul is a candidate city for the 2020 Olympics, but how does Turkey expect to host the largest international event in the world when they pull stunts like this? Turkey wants so badly to be taken seriously as a western/developed/European country, but they’re not doing themselves any favors by being so trigger-happy. That being said, I acknowledge that Turkey is not the only trigger-happy nation I can think of, and that police brutality is not something that exists solely outside of the western/developed/European world. Ugh. More than anything, it’s just very sad to me.
The growing number of protesters is incredible and awe-inspiring. I want to say that the thousands upon thousands of people who joined the protest yesterday are very brave, but I know that there is a fine line between being brave and being stupid in situations like this. I don’t want to discount anyone’s courage, nor the power of protest, but walking into the belly of the beast seems like it can only ever go one way. Still, I like and applaud the idea of standing together in solidarity. And that’s why this is my favorite photo:
It’s raining in Istanbul this morning for the first time in months. Nothing like a good rain to wash away the bullshit.