[Spanish translation in comments]
Istanbul, June 18, 1251 hrs.
Istanbul is under occupation. On all the squares there is police. The National Guard is out patrolling the streets with real guns. In the neighbourhoods, AKP thugs armed with clubs and knives are intimidating people to stay indoors. The government has started to make targetted arrests. In Ankara it’s turning into a manhunt. And yet, it’s us they accuse of ‘terrorism’.
Twenty-two members of çArşı (A stands for Anarchy), the Besiktas hardcore who kicked police asses in the first week and made it possible for people to occupy Taksim, have been arrested in their homes and taken into custody under accusation of terrorism. Their crime is that they have been seen, in photos, at the barricades.
Sunday had been another tear gas festival all over town. In the evening, a small group of people gathered in Abbasaga park in Besiktas to discuss the arrests, and what to do next. Yesterday they returned, more numerous than before. We went down there as well.
A few hundred people filled the stone theater of the park to hold an assembly. They call it a forum here in Turkey, but it’s the same thing. What unites us all is the will, the need, to continue the struggle. Occupy Gezi has been a turning point for Turkey. It made people lose their fear, it made them experience freedom, solidarity, generosity. Above all, it made people listen. For everyone I speak to, this has been the most amazing thing. Turks are used to talking, loudly, but not to listening.
Now they listen to each other five hours straight, two minutes per person. To our surprise, they use the same hand signals as the Spanish do in their assemblies. They wave their hands if they agree, they make a cross with their forearms if they don’t. There’s no real moderation of the assembly yet, just one person who keeps track of time. For the time being, the assembly is a flow of emotions in the spirit of Gezi Park.
The only thing that interrupts the meeting, is a birthday celebration. The whole assembly sings. Cake and coke are going round. Five minutes of joy and laughter, then we get back to business.
A girl who studies political science, and in particular the Occupy and Indignado movements, offers to do simultaneous translation for us. The ideas being proposed vary from peaceful disobedience to armed resistance. Many people propose to form a political party, but the Turkish democratic system is designed to bar any party from entering parliament unless it gains ten percent of the vote.
The most important thing for now, people say, is to stay together. We need to talk to the people in the villages, to the people who only watch television. We need to convince the nationalists and the conservative muslems that Erdogan doesn’t care for the Prophet, or for Atatürk, that he only cares for himself and the power of money.
Resistance can take many forms. And as long as we support each other we will succeed. While the assembly continues into the night, one man in Taksim makes a silent statement. He stands. In front of the flag, in front of police. He doesn’t bow his head. For hours and hours he just stands. Then people start to join him. The Standing Man becomes yet another symbol of resistance. Finally, he is detained. But at that point, his statement already made its way around the square and the world.
When we pass by Taksim late at night, we ask someone what happened to the Standing Man. “I am the standing man, can’t you see?” We look around, everywhere people are standing, silently.
We will keep standing against oppression. Tonight, tomorrow night and the day after. In all parks, in all squares, everywhere. Nine o’ clock. We can beat them by pure force if we want to, we have proven that. We will also beat them with the power of our ideas.