#OccupyTurkey

Dazed Digital blogger and Turkish-Dutch visual artist Pinar Demirdag on #OccupyIstanbul

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I remember clearly the day the ruling party, the Justice and Development Party came to power in Turkey eleven years ago. The economy of our country was going through a tough period. The only opposition party was CHP, the social-liberal and social democratic party had a mono political ideology, the respect of values Ataturk built back in 1930s. It is true that the country needed help, needed a dramatic change. When a party labeled under moderate Muslims came to power, I clearly remember my entourage being completely frightened out by the future to come. In the following years, the social oppression of the government was almost invisible, it only positively reflected in a rampant economy, in the privatization of any and every sector and Turkey's gradual international popularity. As an art student from France, visiting my friends and family back home every now and then. honestly, I was dealing perfectly fine with the politics. However, there came a point where fundamental and socially visible changes started to happen.

In 2009, the education system of the entire Turkey changed in order to favor Imam schools to be part of the official education system.

In 2010, a number of changes happened in the constitution of Turkey which basically allowed  the Justice and Development Party to officially turn the country into their playground. 

In 2010, television channels started to blur the cigarettes away in order to be a better example to the youth.

By 2010, everyone knew that the government started to send food aid to the poor parts of the country in exchange of votes, yet no one dared to talk about it, including myself and the entire media. The success of the government-friendly cooperations and the exclusion of the liberals was gradually becoming clear to my sight.

In 2011, YouTube was censored over their adult content. 

In 2011 serving alcohol in public openings was banned, resulting in my friend's art opening to serve orange juice.

In 2012, as a last minute decision, it was forbidden to serve alcohol in a rock music festival, under the camouflage that the gathering happened in a university campus and the irony is that the main sponsor of the festival was a beer brand.

In 2013, the purchase of alcohol was banned between 10pm - 6am.

In the course of 11 years, Turkish prime minister Erdogan and the ruling AK Parti gradually imposed these non-secular rules and restrictions which have been camouflaged under the excuse for the good of the public. As opposed to the bans, for each investment in the Muslim Party, their bothers could receive a golden ticket to the Elitist Muslim Club. It feels to me that Erdogan found the best elixir for making the unwanted, uneducated, simple Turkish men to be wanted, adored, secured, secluded, respected and shown favor; by money, bureaucracy and a totalitarian attitude.


The last drip which made the Turks snap was his announcement in May 2013 to build an Arab tourist friendly shopping mall in the heart of Istanbul, to be more precise, to wipe off a park in Taksim (the liberal district) and turn it into a cash machine for the advocates of the current government.

Yet the problem is not the park, nor the alcohol. In order to understand this revolution, one must know the saying Turkish mentality which alludes to a personalized treatment of each situation/rule according to the needs of the person in question. This Turkish way can work on your behalf by finding artful solutions to pragmatic restrictions, yet it could also end up in showing favor, bribing, buying people off, division and exclusion, in other words the status of the Turkish government before the upsizings. For the first time since 11 years old, #occupyturkey made young, old, white/blue collar workers, intellectuals, football hooligans, artists, left/right wing, extreme left wing nationalists, transgenders, Kemalists, Alevis, Kurds, Jews, students, gays, everyone stand together, nationally and internationally and show their discontent on being treated like an unwanted child.


What Erdogan has been making me and the rest of Turks go through is harder than an absolute monarchy. Erdogan has been the abusive father of Turkey, yet instead of hitting me every day and making me call Child Protection Service, he fed and favored other kids, neglected me, excluded me in exchange of money and threatens me to beat the hell out of me if I tell this to my mother.What is currently happening in Turkey is not only a demonstration, it's Turks fighting to stop these gradual adaptations in the system favoring a certain part, while excluding the rest of us. #Occupyturkey stands somewhere between the French revolution and Arab Spring. 

The ones who have been closely following the happenings, must have seen the remarkable respect and humor of the Turkish protestors, how they do not fall in the trap of hatred and how different standing points Erdogan and the protestors take. Erdogan has the ideology to divide, beat and tear gas while the Turks are still protesting with tolerance, with embrace, while not being carried away with hatred. The images of the protests me and Viola found are nostalgic reminders of the times where Turkey was secular, tolerant free and respectful.


While the police was tear gassing the protestors, they fought back with humor. In this picture, gay protestors holding a sign "Restriction?? Honey, what are you talking about?". This graffiti on the make-up brand Mac store reads: "Tear gas makes your skin look beautiful". This billboard reads: "You're so sweet" combined with blushing Erdogan. Here you see the protestors cleaning the the park where the debuting clash happened.
As the future of Turkey, it is our role, the kids of the contemporary to spread #occupyturkey even though Erdogan cannot stand Twitter because, in Twitter, everyone is a leader and a follower, yet he only believes in one leader, himself.


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