If the government hoped the protests at Gezi-Park would die a slow death without the police around they were wrong. Now, at the sixth day of the park occupation, Gezi is more alive than ever. In just a few days the Gezi-Park developed from a rather boring park into a lively art-space. There I meet Deniz and he friends for a little interview.
Actually, we planned to meet yesterday already. But the police jeopardized our plans by highly poising the air with teargas when we tried to find each other. Luckily, Deniz and her friends aren’t hurt. We sit down at the meadow, surrounded by many other people picnicking and merchants who sell gas-masks and diving goggles. Deniz is a chemistry student at the Istanbul University. Samra, Ayda, Serhat, Volkan and Selver are students, too. For most of them these are the first protests of their lives.
“Tearing down the Gezi-Park is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Of course it isn’t just about the trees.” they say. When I want to know what the other straws have been, they give me a long list of reasons why they don’t like Erdogan’s policies. Naturally, they name the alcohol prohibition and the kissing on the streets. But also the ban of abortions and that the AKP tried to forbid the morning-after pill. “He wants to control everything. From the streets to the bedrooms.” sums one girl up. “On top of it all, he wants to decide how many children a couple should have” says another one. This sounds exaggerated but it is the reality. A few month ago Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara: “One or two children mean bankruptcy. Three children mean we are not improving but not receding either. So, I repeat, at least three children are necessary in each family.”
Because of quotes like this they are sure that Erdogan doesn’t accept that Turkey is a diverse country. “He wants to create the one, stereotype Turk. And everybody has to be like this.” the students believe. I’m wondering if they believe that the majority of Turks thinks like them. My questions creates a longer discussion. Since even some AKP voter are protesting, a boy believes that it could actually be the majority who thinks like them. “Housewives all over the country show their support, too.”, adds another one. “They start at 9 o’clock in the morning to beat ladles against pans and continue until late evening. It is their mode of protest.” One girl is more skeptical: “For example, my parents in Izmir are old. They don’t use the internet. If I tell them Erdogan is doing bad things they don’t believe it because the TV is showing something else. If the media isn’t on our side the majority isn’t either”
The media is a sore point for many protester at the Taksim-Square. By now some TV-cannels start to report about the uprising. But in the first days, during the cruel police attacks in Istanbul, the TV rather showed a Miss Turkey competition. Everyone is sure that Erdogan controls the media. In nowadays Turkey you don’t have a chance to know the truth if you can’t handle social media they say. A girl from a group next to us works as a kindergarten-teacher. “My kindergarten is twenty minutes away from Taksim. Nevertheless, the children s parents have no clue what is going on here. If one is to believe the media we are just a bunch of rioting freaks.”
At this very moment three disabled people with wheelchairs parade through the park. “Three more looter” is written on signs which they have on their labs. People laugh and clap loudly. Two days ago Erdogan called the protester “just a few looter”. It’s hard to imagine disabled men in wheelchairs throwing stones or rioting…
Anyway, we continue the interview by speaking about the prospects of the uprising. I’m not sure whether I believe that the protests will end in Erdogans resignation or not. Could they imagine a compromise with Erdogan? They discuss my question in Turkish for a while. After a while they come to the conclusion that this protests could maybe solved with a compromise but it wouldn’t be the end of the story. “He will always try to control everything again.” they say. But the powerful protests gave them self-confidence. “Even if we don’t win this time we will do this again and again as a country.”
Though, they aren’t united in the question what should come after Erdogan. Some of them believe in the CHP, some don’t. “Are you Kemalists?” I ask them. Again their opinions differ. “But this isn’t important”,says a girl, “This is about the whole folk. It is about freedom.” Another one adds: “What I love about the protests is that everybody is united. We don’t have Kurdish protestors or Alevi or Muslims. We are just the Turkish citizen.” I’m a little skeptical and think about my friends whom I stayed with at the weekend. They had the feeling the protests were against Muslims. “No, they aren’t.” a girl says. “We don’t want to add any bans. We don’t want to forbid the headscarf. We just want freedom.”
Before I leave I ask if they will be here tomorrow. Everyone nods.