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Bedri Baykam

The Struggle for Freedom has to Last till the End!

06.06.2013

Turkish democracy is going through its brightest, yet most critical and most important period. For over a week the Turkish people have been standing up for their rights and rediscovering the dignity of living as a free person.  The Gezi Solidarity Movement, which is responsible for my having been gassed and exposed to other vile chemical weapons several times this week alongside hundreds of thousand citizens, belongs to the public, the youth.  They are neither member of “marginal groups” nor CHP partisans, as Erdoğan would want us to believe.

They are the real public of this country. They have voted for different parties; and some of them have never voted.  To be frank, for many of them this is their first exposure to politics.  And this is a tremendous gain. This civil disobedience and "resistance" movement has brought together aunts, the intelligentsia, the jobless, students, businesswomen, small business owners, taxi drivers... people from all walks of life.

Even “those apolitical children raised by apolitical parents” have suddenly found themselves in the middle of a political battle. Lovers of rock, punk, pop, football fans of different stripes arm in arm!   Even the most ardent rivalries have been put aside.  “Now do you understand why Atatürk entrusted the republic to the youth, and not to the military, the police, nor the politicians?” asks a young TWEETER.  Yes, now we truly understand my friend.  Because Atatürk understood that our youth would be the ones to fight to preserve their freedom! The youth of Turkey, having sensed the final straw, have put their own future on the line for the future of their country. Our history will note the events of the night of May 31 in golden letters for its contribution to our democracy.  That night the “Empire of Fear” imposed on us since the election of AKP in November 2002 was finally lifted. That sordid period of illegal wiretapping, reign of religious sects... all gone. 

On that same night the plug was pulled on the mainstream media.  Media moguls had traded in their journalistic integrity in exchange of political cronyism and its financial rewards. In the eyes of the public they will never regain their integrity.  The public now knows which media sources to trust:  Ulusal Kanal, Halk TV, Hayat TV.  And the real opposition newspapers: Cumhuriyet, Aydınlık, Sözcü, Yurt, Sol, Birgün... I trust that in the days following these events they will not forget what they have learned in the process.  And that they will use these lessons towards the development of their vision for a new Turkey.  After all that has been lived, I look at the TV programs they have been doing, and I can just scream in anger: All we got is a symphony of so called journalists that either have been together with the government all along. Or some others who are "colorless- odorless"!

Sadly we have already had 3 martyrs in this battle for democracy:  Keremcan Karakaş, Mehmet Ayvalıtaş and Abdullah Can Cömert.  Rumors of other deaths abound.  In his last communication Abdullah (“Abdocan,” my dear Brother) proved to friend and foe alike that Atatürk had made the right choice by entrusting the republic to the youth.  He predicted that he would “die” in this battle and wrote that he was ready to do so.  All three of you now have a place in our hearts, next to Deniz Gezmiş and  Uğur Mumcu.  Who is responsible for these deaths?  The drivers of the vehicles that killed Keremcan and Mehmet, the person who pulled the trigger on Abdullah?  Or the leadership that gave them the green light to go ahead? That is the main question!

I find myself wondering, who were the mothers and teachers who raised those who have been attacking the protesters with such violence? What does it mean to be “drunk with power?”  Why did the “two drunkards” (!) who founded this republic never succumb to this?  I have had AKP members of Parliament say “I swear to you that pepper spray is only effective on contact, it has no long term effects.”  My offer to them is clear:  OK, let’s put those of you who believe thisstatement into the Chamber of Parliament and fire pepper spray at you from a distance of three meters.  Let’s see what they say then!

Turkey needs to finally recognize and understand the difference between true democrats and the pseudo-democrats such as the “Yes but not enough” group and the likes of Orhan Pamuk and the 2nd Republic media.  No one should ever be able to appropriate the title of intelligentsia so lightly. 

As the Performers and Artisits Initiative, we met several times with the Chamber of Architects and the Taksim Solidarity Movement to prevent events from reaching this point.  I personally have spoken three times on Taksim square, on this topic. But no person in authority ever listened to us.  And for this reason I don’t take the vice-prime minister Arinc’s "crocodile tears" seriously.  They cannot escape responsibility so easily.  Neither the press nor the politicians in the US and the EU saw these events coming.  They never understood, nor wanted to accept, that their image of “Erdogan the Democrat” had no base in reality.  As of now, nothing in Turkey will ever be the same... all has changed.

At this point AKP is trying to reduce tensions and when the environment is ripe, will want to reinstate its repressive leadership.  This is a tactic, a very dangerous tactic.  This protest wasn’t for “4 trees.”  It was undertaken by a coalition of proud, laic, proAtaturk people who are leftists, who are Alevis, who are also for some of them neither on the left nor on the right, and all those whom Erdogan sees as “the other.”  And it was undertaken to fight the injustice, the belittling, the lifestyle and political pressures imposed upon them.  It was undertaken in response to AKP’s refusal to acknowledge those who had not voted for them.  Therefore, until this ignoble curtain of darkness is lifted, it would be wrong to end this movement.  Turkey should use these summer months to return to democracy and freedom; to regain and solidify its sense of dignity. All in peace and constant presence.

We can not end this protest until politicians in this country realize that they can no longer target pro Ataturk factions, Alevis, the intelligentsia and the public.  If we end this too soon, before achieving our aims, there will be grave ramifications.  In fact, the fight for freedom and democracy will have lost ground instead of gaining.  For this reason, the unions must realize that they need to provide support for this movement.  The union movement is more than just marching every year on May 1st on routes determined by the police.

For these reasons as the election season nears, it is critical to harness the votes of the Gezi Solidarity Movement.   No one has the right to damage this cooperation.  Rest assured that we, the enlightened performers and artists of this country, will do everything in our power to ensure that Gezi Solidarity’s vision for a peaceful, democratic future in which human rights and the values of the republic are respected emerges from the ballot box.