Letters from the Resisters, No. 3: Greetings from Gezi Park
Letters from the Resisters, No. 3:
Greetings from Gezi Park
My name is Barış Başar. I am a member of Turkish Actors’ Union, a theater actor. I am not affiliated with any political party. I am not a Capulcu (looter), marginal, bibulous. I am a resister until the opression ends. Gezi Park is a symbol. The hundred of thousands who are against the repressive attitude of government are united against the oppression.
These youngsters, called “capulcu”, did what their parents couldn’t. The young resisters who grew up without knowing the fight between the right, left, idealist nationalist youth (ülkücü), socialists, religious, communists based their ideas on humanity, right and justice. They become acquainted. They listened to each other. They respected each other. They said “human first”. They said “respect us”. They said “do not be oppressive, do not intervene with our lives”.The old fights and enmities do not interest us. They were your fights. They said they don’t want to march under the banner of any political party.
They are lucky kids. I am 35 years old. That entrapped generation which could become neither political nor apolitical. Neither was a child of computer era nor played ball on streets. Even my mother asked me “My son, you didn’t do such things when you were 20. Now, you are 35. Where are you going every night leaving your child behind?” The first night when I said to my wife that I was going to the resistance, she asked me “Who is Resistance?” I couldn’t answer that for a long time.
Of course there are other hardships related with resisting at my age. You can’t run. You gasp quickly. But at the moment you are giving up, a youngster takes you by arm and says “Come on!”
On 31st may night, when police violence peaked, I couldn’t take it any longer and decided to go to Taksim. I was a crime reporter for ten years. On 1st Mays, Gazi neighborhood events, in famous Friday protests after 28 February, in Hezboullah cemetery houses I was a crime reporter myself. I didn’t lack experience. I knew what tear gas was. But there was a difference. This time I wasn’t a journalist standing by the police, I was the protestor.
I saw the solidarity between hundred of youngsters who didn’t know each other. Resisters who are affected by the gas poured some liquid medicine solution balancing the stomach acidity to each other’s faces. Later, I participated to protestors who resist against police violence in Akaretler along with legendary “Carşı” group, the fan group of Besiktas Football club.
To encounter with police is a silly computer game where you can never move on to higher levels. A game which would never sell if it was produced. First you build a barricade. Then, police comes and fires tear gas. You catch and throw tear gas cansiters back at police with a glove. That continues for five or six times. Then comes a TOMA (Mass Incident Intervention Vehicle) along with a power shovel to destroy the barricade. The machine breaks down the barricade, TOMA fires water canon. You start to run away. But not very far. TOMA, with all its might, engages in a show of strength in the area which belonged to us fifteen minutes ago. Then they withdraw. This time we advance in order to rebuild the barricade. The new one is ready after ten minutes. There is nothing easier than finding material to build a new one.
Waste containers, construction blocks, wood, iron, whatever portable! The materials from the previous barricade already lie around. The power shovel makes a hole for TOMA to pass through. That continues until the first light of the morning. Don’t you think it is fun?
One of the interesting things is that when police surmounted the barricade with TOMA in Akaretler, we started to run off to the side streets. I headed to a building following a friend of mine. We climbed to the third floor. The householder invited us in at the door. She said “Come in and take a breath, charge your cell phones.” I entered into some stranger’s house. We all had our faces covered and masked. We, five friends, entered the house first, and then the door was never closed. There was almost no place to sit down. Some ice was brought for a girl whose foot was hit by a tear gas canister. Cell phones have been charged. After a while, we started to take off our masks. Then I realized that at the house there were my friends I haven’t seen for a long while. I felt like I was in a birthday party. Half an hour later the guy who owned the house said “Gentilmen, women can stay. Let them rest. But you can go down if you don’t mind, police has withdrawn.” We put on our masks back and went down to street. People said “help us to carry some material for barricades.” We together carried the materials for a barricade which would be destroyed in fifteen minutes. I didn’t see these householders again. One day, I will ring their bell to thank them.
After the resisters seized the control of the park, this time we went to Gezi Park again for the shootage of a programme called “Kafa Jello”. We interviewed the other resistors who settled into Gezi Park, with my reporter friend Kamil Güler. Because I was mostly in Besiktaş and Akaretler in nights, it was the fisrt time I was inside the park at day time. While some people were doing yoga at one corner of the park, on the other corner, anticapitalist Muslims were reading Qur’an. While some tents were built on one side, on the other side youngsters carried the incoming food and medical stores to the infirmary and open kitchen.
After we were done with the shooting, some young people working at the kitchen approached to me. They wanted me to help them. With an older socialist brother wearing Adana Demirspor uniform, we started to distribute food and beverage to the people who came to the park for the first time. Everything at the open kitchen was free but those who are not used to take without paying a price were reluctant to accept our offers. After long efforts of persuasion, we started to give water, food, and beverage to people almost by force. After some days passed, I again saw the socialist brother from Adana Demirspor at the park. I hugged him as he was a long missed relative. When I asked him what he was doing, that socialist brother said “We are organizing the Friday prayer; it’s rainy so we need to find some plastic canvas.” I hugged around his neck cryingly.
On the holy night, the fact that young people did not drink alchool at Gezi Park while Ihsan Eliaçık and Anticapitalist Muslim youngs were praying and performing the namaz, isn’t the sign of the respect they have for each other?
The fact that mothers came to park and human-shielded their children after İstanbul governor said “Come here and take your children. They no longer have life security.” did make them marginal, too?
No one doubts about the good intentions of those who went to meet with Prime minister as representatives of the park, but why the eclipse of mind? Why everyone who participated to those meetings becomes paralyzed? Prime minister skillfully obscures the real reasons for the resistance by reducing it to the symbol of Gezi Park. Doesn’t one of the representatives ask “What will become of your repressive attitude?” Don’t they say “Respect these kids! Don’t call them looters, marginal, bibulous. Don’t intervene to their life style.” So why did they go to the meeting! We knew that nothing would be touched at the park without a court decision. What emerged new from these meetings. The problem of the youngsters is not about learning the legal procedure concerning the Gezi Park process.
There is a talk of referendum. Let’s have it. No one contests that. For days, it’s been said that public property was damaged. A referendum costs approximately 40.000.000 (forty million) TL. A referendum where 15 ton of paper, one million envelopes are used and 285 thousand returning officers work, costs more than the damage done to public property by the protestors. While there are so many poors in this country, 40 million TL will be spent only so that Prime Minister can bully us at the ballot box. Isn’t this alone a reason to resist?
Mr. Barış Başar
Short Biography of Barış Başar:
Barış Başar graduated in 1999 from Müjdat Gezen Conservatoire, into which he had entered in 1994. He worked as a TV news reporter as he studied there. Most recently he prepared and presented the ‘Skytürk’te Sabah (Morning on Skytürk)’ programme. He had been both the director and producer of TV programme ‘Yakın Tarihin Tanıkları (Eyewitnesses of the Recent History)’. Barış Başar resigned from journalism and founded ‘İstanbul Kraliyet Tiyatrosu (İstanbul Kraliyet Theatre)’ with his actor friends including Saygın Delibaş, Ahmet Saraçoğlu, Serdar Orçin, Fethi Kantarcı, Kamil Güler, Serhan Ernak, Alper Düzen, Fırat Doğruloğlu, Caner Özyurtlu in 2004.
Başar, Barış (June, 2013), “Letters from the Resisters, No. 3: Greetings from Gezi Park”, Vol. II, Issue 4, pp.74-77, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=3653)
 The word ‘resistance’ means “‘direniş’ or ‘eylem’” in Turkish, and ‘eylem’ is also a common female name in Turkish.