This is not a blog about politics. However, I feel compelled to report about what is currently happening in the country that has become my home for the time being.
What started as a peaceful gathering in Istanbul’s Gezi Park in protest of the government’s plans to redevelop the area to become a shopping mall has turned into a war scenery on Friday when police tried to disperse the protesters by making use of violent methods such as firing tear gas and water cannons at the masses.
The clashes between the police force and the population have spread to other cities of the country, to the capital Ankara and my current town İzmir, among others.
There have been numerous pictures and videos circulating on Social Networks. The Turkish media are not reporting on the matter. I first learnt about what was going on through the BBC News and through my flat mate who was browsing Twitter. There have been rumours about the government wanting to shut down the internet to prevent people from organizing themselves in riots. So far this has not happened, though.
These clashes and demonstrations are not about the park itself but rather about the cumulated anger of the population who thinks that the current AKP government has become increasingly authoritarian throughout its ten-year rule.
While I have not been out on the battle field myself, I have learnt through friends that the situation in some areas of İzmir has escalated quite badly. Many people have been hurt and arrested. Some are also said to have died.
Yesterday night, at around 23pm, people in my normally quiet neighborhood started making some noise. My flat mate and I went out to the balcony where we saw and heard neighbors clapping their hands, banging about with their frying pans, blowing whistles and turning their lights on and off in what seemed an act to support the rioters.
I was messaging backwards and forwards with my family at the time and my father told me that Prime Minister Erdoğan had had the police withdraw from the park. I assumed that the noise on the balconies and streets was due to the apparent success of the rioters.
The noise continued for some hours, with cars and people on the streets joining in, honking and shouting.
You can really feel a vibe these days. Turkey is burning. Burning with emotions. Burning with desire to express itself. People of all backgrounds and life styles are coming together to jointly protest. To support each other and help each other out by sharing food, shelter from the clashes and medical assistance.
It is too early to say that the violence is diminishing. And this may just be the start of something bigger. I will try to keep you informed. Live from my balcony.