Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Shoulder to Shoulder: Gezi Park

Today: Gezi Park.
I walked up from Besiktas on Gumussuyu Ave. for the first time since the protests began. As I emerged from the steps that lead up from the waterfront, the hair on my arms stood straight up. The cobblestones and bricks had been pulled from the sidewalks to create blockades on every street. Blockades erected to deny the police access. Cobblestones, bricks, outdoor cement tree and shrub planters, plasterboard siding from construction sites, signs - anything portable had been stacked by protesters to deter the police.

Then i reached the top and the sight of Taksim Square filled my eyes with tears. Everywhere. Everywhere flags of every color and shape fluttered in the wind. Red, yellow, orange, blue, white. Flags, banners, placards.

I had wondered, by day 6 would the people's energy weaken?

There were more people of more diverse backgrounds than before.

A group of leathery-faced Alevis (Muslim's most oppressed sub-group) marched and chanted as the crowd applauded them. Behind them, pot-bellied union workers waved flags. They were followed by blithe university kids whistling and singing and clapping. With the passage of each group the other people around would clap and cheer. Bodacious mustachioed Kemalists cheered a group of Kurkish protesters. Football team antagonists marched shoulder to shoulder. Opposing party members helped opposition raise their banners in trees.

One middle-aged woman stood on the steps up to the park waving the Socialist flag. "I have a son," she told me. I don't want him to inherit a world of injustice. I'm here so he can have freedom and a better life."
She hugged me and thanked me for coming and supporting the Turkish people. A young woman came up to us offering us free sandwiches from a large plastic bag filled with sandwiches.

Other young people roamed the park offering various free food items. Some appeared to be pastries donated by bakeries in Taksim. O
ther volunteers moved silently through the crowd picking up trash.

Under trees heaps of cat food lay in mounds. Along one wall supplies were stacked on the ledge of blocks: antidotes for tear gas; bandages for wounds; antiseptics; concoctions of water and Talcid; biscuits; water.

At one station people come and donate supplies as volunteers sort and dispense.
On the crest of one hill, a sound system has been set up. Between rousing speeches musicians come and play. People form circles and dance traditional Turkish folk dances.

Young, old, fat, thin, left, right are joined in a common cause: freedom

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