20 October 2013

Voices of Istanbul

Istanbul "Çapulcus" behind a barricade

Istanbul “Çapulcus” behind a barricade

The ferry leaves Kabataş every half hour and I think if I will be able to take the one at 14h. I run down the slope toward the sea, from Cihangir, people seem to be quiet, still, with their thoughts on the street, walking, talking; a small child cry because her mother doesn’t want to buy him an ice cream. Some men load a truck of small gas cylinders in silver grey colour. The temperature of the air is quite warm. At the end I get to the pier where I will jump onto the boat that will bring me to the other side of the Bosphorus. I still have two minutes so I buy a “token”, three Turkish liras, one way only. The concert starts at 15h in the afternoon and lasts until eleven o’clock at night, at least this is what Kutay said, and that after this it is very possible that there is a revolt. Well, I go, from the beginning, since three.

The ship is a burst, there is a lot of people. I seat at the deck, I roll myself a cigarette and think to smoke it, but I think twice because I don’t see anyone with one in the hand. Looking around searching for a Prohibited smoking sign, I found it. The rolled cigarette of “tu tun” back to the package. “I will smoke it when I get off” -I think-.

The barge started it’s engines, they release the mooring lines and engines roar releasing a black smoke by the side of starboard. The propellers do move this machine of iron and metal direction Anatolia, the Asian side of Istanbul, Kadıköy and the rest of Turkey. Shortly after leaving behind the European zone a couple of young people with a giant speaker get closer and set the big box next to me, I look at them with a circumstance face. Suddenly the loud music coming out of the black case lifts two dozens of people with make up like if they had wounds at their faces, as if they had been beaten. Begin to dance with the same choreography during almost the entire trip until we reach the Asian part of Istanbul.

When disembarking from the ferry to Kadıköy Square, a few young people holding magazines and newspapers with their hands right up show the covers to all the people passing by, probably news of alternative media against Erdogan’s government. The Turkish Prime Minister, when the riots began said and explain to the media that only a few “Çapulcus” -translation more or less literary: bandits- were the cause of the chaos in which Istanbul was immersed, better said Turkey. These few ” Çapulcus” were about 7 million people, against the government and its laws against human rights, almost 10% of the population of Turkey! Only a few, eh …

There is an atmosphere of celebration and complaint in Kadıköy square. The faces of the dead by the police brutality are everywhere, in giant banners, present in view of all, and, apparently, their souls as well.

The tear gas doesn’t let me see, I cough, I spit, I have no orientation, I walk with difficulty, side to side, without a straight pace. Özge that wears a gas mask grab me by the hand and say: “this way”. Continue with the zoomed-out eyesight, head down and almost vomiting, I hear a voice in Turkish: “Al” -says-. Takes my hand and puts a piece of lemon to rub it thru my face and eyes. Sağol –I replied- . It’s 1:40 of the night and the protesters continue resisting the attacks of the police. The journalists go home and I walk with this man, a Kurd, a professional photojournalist that will show me the place where I can get a Mini bus to get home. While we walk and move away from the critical areas where still remain the burning barricades; a pair of streets below the people drink beer and eat quietly. But, did they not realized what is happening?! -I wonder surprised-.

The eyes still a bit sore , but I can already see and walk well. I imagine that the people want to continue with their life, comfort, studying, having fun together, even though they are against the government, probably they had enough after the long weeks of the summer, months…

I take the Dolmuş to European Istanbul, to Tim’s house, a good friend that I met four years ago in Turkey. English Teacher at the University, with a second life as a DJ, very good one by the way. This Minibus will take around twenty minutes to half an hour to reach the other side of the Bosphorus. While dodging the traffic I think about what happened in these 12 hours since I came to the area of the concerts and events. I think of people’s reactions, how I felt and what was going thru my mind. How screwed is this country, and other countries. How people struggle, for what they want and how they can achieve it. Reflecting, imagining how a war can look like, how do the people live or survive thru a period, thru an impose state of mind and situation, how brutal. If the demonstrations, revolts and uprisings are like this, how would a war look like?! Crazy…

The rights of people broken and torn apart by dictatorial and authoritarian governments; by the major world powers and their economies. Even these, the nations, but transnational corporations with their financial flows that do not care about anything else than enrich themselves, leaving the people aside. Of course is much more complicated than all this, and I do not even know the half of what’s going on, I am not learned or intellectual, I am an observer that would like to be able to show people what happens, in different formats. I think: “The people must be tired of everything that has happened in Turkey since last days of May 2013 during almost the entire summer, and they want to continue with their lives. Yes, but, could life be still the same if the people who is in charge of a country (every country) has the power to manipulate the human rights of the inhabitants inside their own borders? And of the other borders?