Understanding.

I wish I understood more of what was going on in Istanbul these days. It isn’t a matter of not keeping up on the news. I get my daily dose of papers, blogs, and facebook feed. It isn’t a matter of not having friends in the “know.” I have people who can tell me this and that is happening, and why they think it is happening, and what, exactly, they will be protesting any given evening. But the fact of the matter is that I don’t believe that anyone actually knows what is going on here. Reporters continue to report. Social scientists have stepped in, from anthropology to economy, to make their comments. The prime minister and his team continue to spin in one direction, the protesters in the opposite, and international media in a third. Overall it makes no sense, and what gets me, what is absolutely terrifying to me, is that as the violence dies down and people go about their daily business, it seems that the Turkish government has won and will write history. Ten years ago I would not have minded the government winning. Sometimes it is better for the people if the government wins, I thought. These days the anarchist in me hopes strongly for the underdog to win. But hopes and political theories aside, this is what I know:

Yesterday I went to sushi with Nikola and his co-workers. I decided that I would take the metro from Taksim, just to see how things were now that (from what I have heard) things have died down. When I got to Taksim it did not appear that things had died down at all. There was a line of police men all around the statue in Taksim square, and surrounding the main square as well. At every entrance to Taksim officers were refusing to let people pass. I asked to be let down into the metro and was informed that I could not pass. I decided to walk around and barely made it out of the square before officers sealed off another entrance. I walked about a kilometer down the road to the next metro station, all the while passing police officers streaming into Taksim.

I was told last night was special. It was a memorial for one of the men who had died during the protests (now being called riots?) and of course the police needed to increase their presence. But one thing truly bothers me. The statement that the prime minister gave about the park needing to be open to all. I already commented on the absurdity of that statement as a park is not “open to all” if it is being torn down. But last night I wondered, how on earth can any one trust that man when this is his definition of, “open to all.” Apparently, “open to all,” means that it is sealed off by police to the point that public transit isn’t working and people cannot even walk through a space, let alone rest and enjoy it. I was down in the park during the protests. They were truly open to all. I feel that anyone could have gone down there and wandered, and spoken, and existed. Now, they are closed. Now they have been taken by a singular, selfish group making claims that they know what is best for everyone. “Open to all,” means that they are apparently protecting it from everyone. It was tragic. 

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