Wasabi Peas

A Subsiduary of 'The Wasabi Monologues'

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Ankara, day 18.
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Apologies for not updating in ages. I know many of you know that I'm in Ankara, Turkey and that there's massive civil unrest here at the moment. I've been getting so many worried emails from friends asking if I'm safe that I decided to send a bulletin to everyone in my current contacts addressbook and also to put this on my Livejournal
For those of you who may not know, and are going 'what's this about?' I should explain that I'm currently living in Ankara, Turkey.
If you've been watching the news, you'll know that Turkey is blanketed with civil demonstrations against the current increasingly authoritarian government. It's being been dealt with by the police in a very violent and disgraceful manner, with extreme use of force.
My flat is right in the middle of the flash-point area of Ankara, right at Kuglu park and on the main boulevard connecting it with Kizilay Square, where the main demonstration has been happening since Friday. It's extremely noisy at night, and there have been instances of waking up in the wee small hours to tear gas blowing in through the windows. Other than that, I have not been in very much danger thus far, and even when out at the protest, I'm generally only at Kuglu, which is the smaller of the two, and the one with less police attention!
The police violence here has been astonishing. Peaceful demonstrations have been attacked every night since this began on the 28th May.
Today Erdogan announced that if everyone does not leave Taksim Sq by the morning he will send in 'his police' and 'they know how to deal with protesters'
Instead of waiting, tonight thousands of police attacked Gezi park the nucleus of the Taksim sq area, where the tents of the Occupy Gezi folks are located. A community art class was onoing. Hundreds of women, children and families were inside the area and were tear-gased severly. Reporters say chlidren were screaming, some were having asthma attacks, some were injured....mothers were panicking and blinded by gas.
Police have, as I write, penned wounded and fleeing protesters into the Divan Otel (hotel in Taksim) and poured in tear gas.

Here in Ankara, some hundreds of KM away, the city has poured out into the streets in soliarity. Tunali Himli and Kennedy streets are full, tens of thousands of people. The police are attacking everywhere with water canon trucks and tear gas. The people are use to this now, they stand strong no matter the brutality. The media (TV etc) have been heavily censored by the government, not many have the courage to report the truth anymore. Journalists have been arrested by the score, even foreign correspondents. 75 lawyers were arrested for defending captured protesters. 11 Erasmus students (from various countries) were arrested for being seen near Taksim sq with cameras. The ministry of health has announced it will be investigating all doctors who have volunteered assisting wounded protesters.
Everywhere the government tries to create fear.
Democracy is under siege.

Tonight I feel so heavy. So dreadfully sad.
Thousands....hundreds of thousands must feel the same way. I see the Turkish people in Taksim, Kizilay and Kuglu: brave, determined, empowered...and I think, 'if this were the UK would we be so brave? Would we be willing to be gased, run over by panzer truks, arrested etc in order to stand up for our basic democratic rights?' I can't answer that. Outside deafening car horns, chanting, pans being battered useless to make the world hear.... and I feel afraid for them, and proud of them. Some are my friends, who I have come to know in this last year. Many are people I pass fleetingly in the street or the market. Most are even more remote...faces on a TV screen, people I've never seen before or will again.
I don't know if these protests will ultimately change anything. I don't want to say I've given up hope that Erdogan will listen - but he is like a stone wall, completely defiently obstinately refusing to move an inch in negotiations of wider issues. How can you ever reach someone like that?
The people here - out there, are half the reason I 'fell in love' with this country. I'm worried that they may lose their republic, and lose their democracy to that arrogant man in the really ugly suit.

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Amazing. I don't know what to say.
Stay safe, dear.

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