The first barricade seems impenetrable. Hundreds of bricks piled high, torn fences, and flipped over cars mix into a single wide shield of corrugated steel with long metal spikes sticking out front, as if ready to defend against any horse charge. But then you walk another 10 meters and see the next one, twice as big, more bricks, more fences, graffiti all over it. And then walk a bit more and see another, and another, and another, and not only the main street but all the side streets and every surrounding street is blocked. All the sidewalks are sand, having their bricks taken out and put to new uses. Constant streams of people are hanging around each barricade, posing for photos; there’s vendors selling spray paint, gas masks and goggles in between each barricade. Iphones, ipads, and all i-devices are capturing the moments of joy and pride for all people. All ages join in jumping on the destroyed cars, playing inside the smashed out tractors, buses, media vans. Anonymous style guy fawkes masks are ubiquitous, as are vendors selling kofte, corn, tea, and of course, flags, thousands of red flags with the face of the founder of the republic, mustafa kemal ataturk, but also trotskyist, anarchist, feminist, and other flags. Anarchists mix with nationalists, while football hooligans and environmentalists, anti-capitalist muslims and LGBT Kurds all share every meter of soil within Gezi Park, making it shoulder-to-shoulder tight as you try to squeeze through from one side to the next. Tents on top of tents, a whole village lives within the park now. Construction materials from the stalled development litter the surrounding streets. Every piece of constant capital looks like rubble after a battle. The Ataturk cultural center, a five-story building on one side of Taksim square, is draped with massive banners saying “Don’t Obey”, “Tayyip Resign”, and huge flags of Ataturk, mixed with anarchist graffiti and football signs.
It seemed as if the world had entered the age of the austerity riots. And then Istanbul erupted. Let there be no mistake, Istanbul cannot be lumped in with Athens, Barcelona, Lisbon or New York. What is happening in Turkey is the flip-side of the anti-capitalist coin. It is an uprising against development. It is a street battle for cities that belong to people and not capital. It is resistance against an authoritarian regime emboldened by an economic boom. What we are seeing unfolding in the streets of Istanbul is a convergence between Turkey’s small but growing anti-authoritarian left who has been organizing various campaigns of social relevance in the past years and a large section of the urban population loyal to the Kemalist ideals of modernism, secularism and nationalism. This being said, the situation in Turkey is extremely complex and necessitates an understanding of many different political situations that have been developing over the past decade.
Η γειτονιά των Κούρδων και Αλεβιτών, κυρίως, εργατών, που έχει ιστορία σύγκρουσης με το κράτος, έγινε χτές το βράδυ πεδίο μάχης. Ένας άνθρωπος 19 ετών τραυματίστηκε σοβαρά και χθες το βράδυ ήταν στο χειρουργείο.