Everyday I'm çapuling: on Taksim, and #occupygezi
June 8, 2013 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Let Us Dot the ‘i’ and Cross the ‘t’: Insurgence and the End of ‘Tough Love’ Politics in Turkey: As I type out these words, it is the tenth day of the anti-government protests in Turkey. Beginning at that rather inconspicuous and under-visited park, protests have gone viral and spread to more than twenty provinces. For now, activists occupy the park and most of Taksim Square. Despite relentless police brutality aiming to subdue the blessedly unruly crowds, thousands of citizens remain in the streets. Activist youth have already come up with a whole new series of tear gas-related jokes. Abdullah Cömert, a young activist in Hatay,,was killed when shot by a tear gas canister in the head. Another young worker from Ankara, Ethem Sarısülük, is in a coma from a riot police officer that shot a bullet which ricocheted and hit Sarısülük in the head. There were protesters who lost their eyes to tear gas or to canisters shot in their face. In general, riot police deliberately targeted individuals by means of gas grenade launchers. Whatever the political prospects of Turkey’s “Occupy moment” will be, the Ministry of the Interior has a lot to answer for.

The View from Istiklal : Just one month before, on May Day, the police had barricaded all of the surrounding streets leading to Taksim Square and blocked all of the side streets merging into İstiklal. The display of civil society that was prevented on May Day has been active in Gezi Park, Taksim Square, and along İstiklal since 2 June. First aid stations that had been located on the periphery of the park are now on park grounds and are receiving donations of necessary medical supplies. Every inch of green space is occupied with people conversing, reading books, or just reclining. Political speeches mix with chants. A few street dogs mill about the park, and receive direct attention from passersby. Gezi Park has become the people’s park, where individuals proudly parade their facemasks and goggles.

Contours of a New Republic and Signals from the Past: How to Understand Taksim Square: Whether Taksim Square will enter the annals of Turkey’s long struggle for freedom, justice and solidarity as the place, where a new social contract was made now depends, above all, on the government. This time Taksim is not about revolution, but about the possibility of a mature democracy that restraints the extremes of the neoliberal growth machine and that curtails the concentration of power in the hands of a delusional Prime Minister. It is also about the possibility of bridging the many fault lines of Turkey’s complex society. In the park and the square, Kurdish activists, Kemalists, Turkish nationalists, Socialists, and “Anti-capitalist Muslims” have been able to fight and celebrate together, despite occasional confrontations, which were resolved by immediate intervention of bystanders.

Resist Taksim: There will be no mall, hotel or residence. Although we had provided a project of building a city museum there long before the transformation of Taksim to a pedestrian zone, we saw that people are not interested in this. I am planning to present and exhibit the project in Taksim and open it for discussion. Our prime minister has stated that he wants the military barracks to be built. But he also declared the construction of a mall, shops, hotel and residences. We want to build a museum.

THE GEZI PARK OCCUPATION: CONFRONTING AUTHORITARIAN NEOLIBERALISM:…privatisation and the closure of public spaces continues as an increasing number of symbolic venues have become targets of the new construction boom. Istanbul’s world-renowned Emek theatre was closed down in a showdown, Karaköy, Tophane and Salıpazarı coastal lines have been restricted to public access as part of a $702 million auction and Erdoğan’s ostentatious ‘crazy project’ Canal Istanbul is destined to engender catastrophic consequences for the city’s already debilitated ecological balance—notwithstanding the projected $350 billion investment market it will create.

The planned urban restructuring of Taksim and the destruction of Gezi Park has to be understood in the context of state-driven privatisation projects which fulfill the double enactment of surplus absorption and the closure of public spaces. This is not a mere transplantation of the Occupy Wall Street/LSX into the overstrained anatomy of Turkish politics. The organisational parallels end at the question of confronting state power. The protesters converged at Gezi Park know that the AKP will continue the neoliberalisation of urban and economic space unless it is challenged by a strong, coordinated grassroots mobilisation. The Gezi Park occupation can succeed where the TEKEL resistance has faltered in 2010 by igniting a spark that can generalise the struggle against the AKP’s authoritarian neoliberalism.

Al-Jazeera 'Turkey Protests' Live blog

Live feed

Occupy Gezi Coverage provides a variety of news-related sources whereas the #occupygezi tumblr displays user-submitted photographs from on-the-ground throughout Turkey.

Chapulling (Turkish: çapuling) is a neologism originating in the 2013 protests in Turkey, coined from Prime Minister Erdoğan's use of the term çapulcu (roughly translated to "looters" or "vandals") to describe the protestors. Pronounced "cha-pul-ju" in Turkish, çapulcu was rapidly reappropriated by the protestors, both in its original form and as the anglicized chapuller and additionally verbified chapulling, given the meaning of "fighting for your rights". Chapulling has been used in Turkish both in its English form and in the hybrid word form çapuling.

The word quickly caught on, adopted by the demonstrators and online activists. Many took the concept further by integrating the unique nature of the demonstrations and defined it as "to act towards taking the democracy of a nation to the next step by reminding governments of their reason for existence in a peaceful and humorous manner." Variations of chapulling were also coined for other languages.
posted by whyareyouatriangle (70 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Let Us Dot the ‘i’ and Cross the ‘t’

Not always!
posted by nathancaswell at 4:09 PM on June 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Erdoğan downplays situation and claims that 17 died in OWS protests in the USA, whereas "only" 3 have died in Turkey: The U.S. Embassy in Ankara deleted today statements published on its official Twitter account June 7 that dismissed the Turkish prime minister’s claims that police had killed 17 people in suppressing the Occupy Wall Street protests.

“Those who try to lecture us [about the crackdown in Taksim Gezi Park], what did they do about the Wall Street incidents? Tear gas, the death of 17 people happened there. What was the reaction?” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said during at a European Union Ministry conference in Istanbul on June 7.

The U.S. embassy released a statement in English and Turkish via Twitter only an hour later, saying: “Reports related to the U.S. Occupy Wall Street movement are inaccurate. No U.S. deaths resulted from police actions in #OWS.”
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 4:30 PM on June 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

The reason I've never tried to make a front page post on Metafilter is that I'd want to do something this good, and know I cannot. Thanks for supplying such a dizzying array of material on the incredible complexity of Turkish politics.

I'd just like to add that while their Occupy movement is very, very different from what happened in the U.S. and parts of Europe, I think it is both interesting and telling that Turkey's form of civic protest apes more terminology from these than they do from the Arab spring uprisings, and seem have more in common philosophically. I say this simply because of the historical trend in much of Europe to treat Turkey as alien.
posted by kernel_sander at 5:06 PM on June 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

That game show host is awesome. To get around government censorship, Ali Ihsan Varol did an entire episode of "Guess the Word" where every question looked like this:

1- A journey undertaken to see, to have fun: GEZI (name of the park that is at the center of the protests)

2- A large garden with trees and flowers in the center of a place of residence that allows people to breathe: PARK


21-To take steps together to protest an event or an happening: PROTEST MARCH

22-To resist, to not give up: RESISTANCE

23-To find an event or an application as unfair, and not accept it and resist it: PROTEST

24-To be able to decide without undue pressure from outside: FREEDOM

25-The act of supporting each other for shared thoughts and goals: SOLIDARITY

26-What happens when all workers stop working: GENERAL STRIKE


33-An action that means the same thing as approval: SILENCE

34-Limiting the freedom of press, communication, film or books by government: CENSORSHIP

35-The person who is supposed to learn about an event and write about in various outlets: JOURNALIST

36-The microblog and social network site that has been described as a “curse”: TWITTER

37-The person Mustafa Kemal Ataturk said should “write his/her thoughts freely:” JOURNALIST

38-Person who tries to kiss up to power: BROWN NOSER

39-The state of being able to resist power or injustice but being quiet: COWARDICE

It's as though Wheel of Fortune sided with Occupy New York -- read the whole thing.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:07 PM on June 8, 2013 [24 favorites]

Hasn't the historical pattern in Turkey involved a series of military coups, followed by the eventual installation of a new civilian government? It's not so much that the current government has much to answer for, it's that the Turkish military has a convenient reset button, and they're not afraid to apply deadly force to restore what they consider appropriate social order.
posted by Nomyte at 6:07 PM on June 8, 2013

I'm curious : is " Occupy Gezi" as a label common and widely accepted in Turkey or is that largely a label or framing favoured by outsiders or particular Turkish groups (including perhaps the Turkush govt. it seems in their rhetorical distancing of the situation in Turkey from the Arab Spring)
posted by Bwithh at 6:09 PM on June 8, 2013

Historically, the Turkish military intervenes on the side of secularists against religious politicians. If they were to intervene in this it's not obvious whose side they'd be on.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:11 PM on June 8, 2013

Hasn't the historical pattern in Turkey involved a series of military coups, followed by the eventual installation of a new civilian government? It's not so much that the current government has much to answer for, it's that the Turkish military has a convenient reset button, and they're not afraid to apply deadly force to restore what they consider appropriate social order.
posted by Nomyte at 6:07 PM on June 8
[+] [!]

The current Islamic party in government has had a major aim of eroding the power of the primarily pro-secular military significantly - so those historical "usual" dynamics may no longer apply
posted by Bwithh at 6:12 PM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, see her post on this Turkish gameshow host who is badass

That actually brought tears to my eye. Talk about finding a way to make a difference. Bad ass and brilliant. Fucking ... respect, for everyone involved in that show.
posted by crayz at 6:17 PM on June 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm curious : is " Occupy Gezi" as a label common and widely accepted in Turkey or is that largely a label or framing favoured by outsiders or particular Turkish groups (including perhaps the Turkush govt. it seems in their rhetorical distancing of the situation in Turkey from the Arab Spring)

Indeed, this is a good and very important question to be asking. It is my understanding that the #occupy tag is coming from within given the number of Turkish-language references to #occupy gezi. Also, this Twitter search for #occupy gezi indicates if not from within, the tag has been detourned to Turkish uses and desires.

http://www.whatishappeninginistanbul.com/?p=342 outlines Taksim Dayanışması (Taksim Solidarity) demands, which includes the hashtag.

Occupy Gezi
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 6:51 PM on June 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

There's a recent article in The Economist, The New Young Turks, that has a decent overview of the current situation, and some context and background on Turkish politics. The thing to keep in mind is that Turkey is already a secular democracy -- a young democracy, to be sure, and one that has seen its share of struggles -- but that helps explain why the protesters are adopting the language of "Occupy" rather than that of the Arab Spring. I think what is new and interesting about this movement is that it is no longer about the old Turkish fault lines of secular vs. religious. From the article linked above:

But, contrary to Mr Erdogan’s efforts to portray the protesters as thugs and extremists, they cut across ideological, religious and class lines. Many are strikingly young; but there are plenty of older Turks, many secular-minded, some overtly pious. There are gays, Armenians, anarchists and atheists. There are also members of Turkey’s long-ostracised Alevi minority, who practise a liberal form of Islam and complain of state discrimination in favour of the Sunni majority. Each group added its grievances to the litany of complaints... “This is not about secularists versus Islamists, it’s about pluralism versus authoritarianism,” commented one foreign diplomat.
posted by fikri at 7:42 PM on June 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

Bwithh, I very nearly created a post on the incredible game show dissent spectacular yesterday and I'm kind of glad I didn't. It's better that it appear in the context of this much better post. Rachel Maddow did a particularly fine segment on it the other day.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:13 PM on June 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

from the Maddow segment, "democracy breather"=gas mask

Truly brilliant and perhaps one is witnessing the coining of a new idiom.

posted by whyareyouatriangle at 8:52 PM on June 8, 2013

From (NOTES ON) POLITICS, THEORY & PHOTOGRAPHY, a blog maintained by poli theorist James Johnson:

Gezi Park - Reminders for Political Theorists
A couple of reports on Gezi Park that offer important reminders for political theorists. The first from the BBC addressed the uses of humor in politics. Here there is a paper by Elizabeth Spelman ("Anger the Diary") that contrasts the distinct impact of anger, which empowers the aggrieved, and humor, which deflates the pretensions of the powerful. And, of course, this argument subverts the dichotomy between rationality and the emotions (see, generally, Amelie Rorty) - the connections between rationality and emotions are various. The second - here - is from Michael Kimmelman at The New York Times who underscores (among other things) both Hannah Arendt's claim that the exercise of freedom presupposes public space and Jim Scott's quasi-anarchist arguments about resistance to regimentation of (among other things) space.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 9:33 PM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, that game show host protest thing just floors me. That dude has incredible guts; I can only sort of imagine what it might have seemed like to watch.

John: I'll take "Geography" for $300, please Alex.
Alex Trebek: Our streets. [buzzer] Emily?
Emily: Whose streets?
Trebek: Correct.
Emily: I'll take "Potent Populace" for $300, please.
Trebek: Justice. [buzzer] Scott?
Scott: What do we want?
Trebek: Correct, pick again.
Scott: I'll take "Potent Populace" for $400, Alex.
Trebek: Now. [buzzer] Scott?
Scott: Solidarity forever?
Trebek: [wrong answer sound] I'm sorry, incorrect. [buzzer] John?
John: When do we want it?
Trebek: That is correct. John?
John: I'll take "Civics" for $200, please Alex.
Trebek: It's an audio-visual daily double.
John: I'll wager one thousand dollars.
Trebek: Here's your clue. [video of street protesters]
John: Is this what democracy looks like?
Trebek: Correct. This is what democracy looks like, and you move into the lead as we take our first commercial break.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:09 PM on June 8, 2013 [11 favorites]

I just fucking love it when things kick off.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:20 PM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want to follow the protests in English, I can heartily recommend Wisconsin's own Jenna Pope (FB; Twitter; web), freelance journalist and Shorty Award nominee who moved seamlessly from the Madison protests, to Occupy New York, to Occupy Sandy, and now to Gezi Park. Recent photos.
In my own small way, as a former New Yorker and fellow prostester, I helped her with a pep talk before she went to Occupy, but I was really just one in a crowd of fans and followers.
posted by dhartung at 1:15 AM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

In Turkey, rival soccer fans unite in protest
Clashes with authorities are not a new phenomenon for the fans of Turkey's three most popular soccer teams. But the image of them teaming up against a common enemy is jarring to anyone here who has followed the cutthroat world of Turkish football fandom.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:37 PM on June 10, 2013

Jenna live-tweets as police enter Taksim square, spray protesters with water cannon and blanket area with tear gas. Inside the tear gas. Many are saying the violence looks staged, with molotov-wielding provocateurs showing up at the same time as the police, and the brunt of enforcement aimed a the general crowd. She got back to her hotel room OK, but not without being hassled by cops.
posted by dhartung at 3:49 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, people are saying that the molotov-wielders are a bunch of bad actors. As in incompetent thespians — apparently, everything they do reeks of amateurish overacting. Also, they've apparently been seen using walkie-talkies (of the type that police might use), and people have posted pictures of them that seem to show the outlines of concealed guns. So it does seem like these are provocateurs (who, oh so coincidentally, happened to show up at the same time that the Turkish media decided to show up and do a bit of coverage).
posted by klausness at 4:40 AM on June 11, 2013

Normally I'm a huge skeptic of the provocateur argument, but geez, that looks just completely staged.

Erdogan, you're a bigger thug than I gave you credit for.
posted by aramaic at 6:38 AM on June 11, 2013

What Is Going On In Istanbul? - National Journal, 11 JUN.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:02 PM on June 11, 2013

#occupyGEZI video (Short conversation clips with English subtitles)
posted by jeffburdges at 7:21 AM on June 12, 2013

How the War in Syria Has Helped to Inspire Turkey's Protests - "The anti-Erdogan protesters in Turkey have many grievances - but the prime minister's record of support for the Syrian rebels may turn out to be the most explosive."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:18 AM on June 12, 2013

A few more Photos from #OccupyGezi.
posted by homunculus at 10:55 AM on June 12, 2013

More journalists injured.
posted by klausness at 11:56 AM on June 12, 2013

Academics for Gezi.
posted by klausness at 12:28 PM on June 12, 2013

CBC correspondents detained.
posted by klausness at 2:20 PM on June 12, 2013

Turkish police: we're fighting inhuman work conditions, not protesters.
Meanwhile the 'peace pianist' is trying to bring calm to Taksim Square and the Ultimatum from Erdogan has been ignored.
posted by adamvasco at 2:39 AM on June 14, 2013

I've heard that Erdoğan and the governor of Istanbul both appealed to the mothers of protestors to get their kids to leave before they got hurt. So apparently a large group of mothers went to Gezi park and put themselves between the protestors and the police.
posted by klausness at 3:21 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Police with no visible identification (they're supposed to have ID numbers on their helmets) harrassing people at the Istanbul Hilton.
posted by klausness at 6:29 PM on June 15, 2013

Turkish police storm protest camp using teargas and rubber bullets
Hundreds of security forces move in with bulldozers during a concert for activists, leaving many wounded.
posted by adamvasco at 2:08 AM on June 16, 2013

posted by adamvasco at 2:08 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Volunteer doctors are being arrested for treating the injured. There are multiple reports of some sort of irritant added to the water being sprayed at crowds by water cannons.

Meanwhile, city buses are being pulled off their routes so that they can take supporters to the scheduled pro-Erdoğan rally.
posted by klausness at 5:50 AM on June 16, 2013

Summary of last night from ZDF German television (in German with English subtitles).
posted by klausness at 6:52 AM on June 16, 2013

Riot police pour into Istanbul.

Meanwhile, there are reports that a fake confrontation will be staged at today's AKP rally. Representatives of protest groups are trying to get the word out that they will not be at the AKP rally and that anyone there claiming to be associated with them is likely to be a provocateur.
posted by klausness at 8:10 AM on June 16, 2013

Taksim's 'lady in pink' in serious condition after 13 days
(I'm avoiding the Lobna Allamii photo links here, which get gruesome fast)
posted by jeffburdges at 2:04 AM on June 17, 2013

Turkey’s False Nostalgia
posted by jeffburdges at 8:08 AM on June 17, 2013

Two of our (the protesters) favorite videos we like to watch when we start to feel down:

Biber gazı oley : A soccer fan group, Çarşı, chanting Pepper spray olé while engulfed in a thick fog of teargas, teasing the police—they were just a hundred meters down the road or two. Badass.

Daft Punk Gezi Park version : First an excerpt from one of PM Erdoğan's interviews where he's talking about his youth—with related comical images, then comes a slideshow of stills and videos from the protests. All set to Daft Punk [in the image: wear your helmet and activist safety first!].
posted by procrastinator at 12:40 PM on June 17, 2013

jeffburdges: “Turkey’s False Nostalgia
I think Turks are quite aware of the shortcomings of the Kemalist movement vis-à-vis human rights and democratic institutions. That's why they let the Kemalist military leadership get sidelined and put out to pasture over the last 15 years or so.

All I know is from a strictly global strategic realpolitik perspective, I'd vastly prefer a Kemalist Turkey to the A.K.P.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:11 PM on June 18, 2013

Law of the Father
posted by homunculus at 6:35 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

From Turkey with Love, Belén Fernández, Jacobin, 19 June 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 3:18 AM on June 21, 2013

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