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YOUTH IN REVOLT BY REUBEN SILVERMAN
Deniz Gezmiş, “The Turkish Che Guevarra” When the Turkish police finally moved into Istanbul’s Taksim Square, after a week of protests and occupation, one of their first actions was to cut down the accumulation of posters hanging from the Ataturk Cultural Center. Since protesters had taken control of the square, one group after another had added to the collage of slogans and images. Among the more prominent of these was a picture of a young man’s face with the words “Struggle” His face could be seen elsewhere too: on posters around the square, on t-shirts, and spray painted on buildings. For many Turks, this young man, Deniz Gezmiş, is the face of revolutionary struggle. Deniz was born in 1947, a “baby boomer” in a country that had remained largely neutral through WWII. Staying on the sidelines, however, had not saved the economy. The war years had been lean times and, in the post-war years, Turkish leaders found it necessary to throw in their lot with the United States in order to secure loans and resist a very real Soviet threats to the country’s sovereignty. Turkey joined NATO, fought in the Korean War, and accepted financial assistance. By the late 1960s, this relationship was fraying. The country remained poor, industrialized only in its western coastal regions—and that industrialization had stimulated massive migrations into the cities, resulting in sprawling shantytowns. To many on the left, attempts to deal with these social problems seemed impossible in a political-party system dominated by landlords, bureaucrats, and the army. Anti-American sentiment grew over the course of the decade as many perceived the US to be propping up the existing order. Meanwhile, US soldiers stationed around Turkey spent like kings and the US sixth fleet patrolled Turkey’s Mediterranean borders, preventing Turkish forced from aiding Turks in Cyprus. In fact, when Turkey sought to intervene in 1964, President Johnson responded with a threatening letter to the Turkish prime minister, discouraging him. inthebul/05
Turkish universities in the 1960s were natural centers for protest. In the first place, students were literate and informed, reading Marxist works at a time when events in Cuba and elsewhere suggested revolution was possible. Moreover, students were grumpy: Turkey had only eight universities to serve a population of around 35 million. Even with highly selective acceptance rates, universities were over-flowing—a single Latin class for 400 students, only 21 dorms for 10,000. And, on top of all these discomforts, fees were higher than stipends could cover. Even before student protests engulfed the continent in 1968, Turkish students had begun protesting and organizing. Initial student radicalism was centered in campus groups called “Idea Clubs,” but by the late 1960s, members of these clubs were dominating university elections and speaking for the studentbody as a whole. Deniz entered Istanbul University Law School in 1966 and began participating in various left-wing protests, including burning a US flag at a Cyprus protest. By 1968, he’d been arrested several times for his activities and, like many students, was growing “disenchanted” with the methods of the more main-stream Turkish Workers Party.
Turkish universities in the 1960s were natural centers for protest. Students were literate and informed, and reading Marxist works at a time when events in Cuba and elsewhere suggested revolution was possible. An Early Arrest In January of 1968, he founded the Revolutionary Jurists Organization; the following March he and other members were arrested for protesting a speech by the Deputy Prime Minister. In June, a month after the Paris protests had begun, students at Istanbul University resolved to occupy the campus—their initial demands for better living and studying conditions quickly grew into demands for a thoroughgoing “education revolution.” Throughout the summer new opportunities for action presented themselves: a major strike in early July followed by the arrival of the American Sixth Fleet in Istanbul. The fleet docked in Dolmabahçe, only a short walk from the campuses of Istanbul Technical University (ITÜ). Its presence quickly drew protests; sailors on shore leave were the target of harassment. On July 17th, police raided the ITU dormitories. In the ensuring fighting, over fifty students and four police were injured, thirty students were arrested, and one student fell (or was, perhaps, pushed) through a window—he died ten days later from the injuries. The day after the raid, students gathered to protest in front of ITÜ. The ITÜ’s student leadership, trying to follow the recommendations of the Turkish Workers Party, counseled fellow students to remain at the university, but Deniz rallied them to march down to confront the fleet. In Dolmabahçe students fought with American sailors, throwing several into the water. 
In the days that followed, Deniz and other students organized protests under the slogan “For Peace, War Against American Imperialism,” and—feeling that the Idea Clubs were insufficiently active—started the Revolutionary Student Union (DÖB). A week after the fleet protests, a memorial service for the dead ITU student turned into a violent confrontation between students and police. In the aftermath of July chaos, police arrested Deniz. The police were not the only force set against left-wing groups; right-wings groups targeted them as well. Nationalists saw radicals like Deniz as trying to undermine the country through class warfare; Islamists saw radicals as attempting to establish a religiously intolerant communist system. In conservative cities like Konya, left-wing organizations like teacher’s unions, political parties, and newspapers were attacked. Within two months of being released in September of 1968, Deniz was back to organizing protests: this time against the new US Ambassador to Turkey, Robert Komer who, before his appointment had run the US’s “pacification” program in Vietnam. An advocate of “winning hearts and minds,” Komer advocated that the US reduce its visibility in Turkey, halting fleet visits until after the fall elections, turning over management of NATO facilities, and closing conspicuous dispensaries and movie theatres available only to US troops. These positions did not impress Deniz and his peers. Upon Komer’s arrival in Istanbul, Deniz led a group to the airport to protest. When Komer arrived in the capital, Ankara, he was confronted by even larger protests. When he went to visit Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), a Turkish school built on the American model with US funding, students burned his car. Komer’s resignation in early January 1969 was celebrated as a victory for the left even though it was largely a result of changing presidential administrations in the US. Emboldened, student radicals continued their protests against the sixth fleet. On February 16, however, a mass protest heading toward Taksim Square was attacked, first by police and then by groups of armed right-wing militants. Two protesters were killed. The date is remembered by the Turkish left as “Bloody Sunday,” but it was hardly an isolated incident—in fact it was just another step down the increasingly violent path Turkey was to take in the 1970s.
On July 17th, police raided the ITU dormitories. In the ensuring fighting, over fifty students and four police were injured, thirty students were arrested, and one student fell (or was, perhaps, pushed) through a window. Over the course of 1969, there were more strikes and university occupations. ÖDTÜ was shut for seven months; Istanbul University for four. On the streets outside the campuses, students fought police with sticks and Molotov cocktails. Deniz was on the front lines of such fights, but in late June he decided he must take the next step toward revolution. With classes cancelled, he traveled to Palestinian Liberation Organization training camps in Syria and Jordan to receive guerrilla training. Upon returning to Istanbul in September, he was expelled from university for his actions months earlier (including carrying an unlicensed gun). His expulsion led to a fresh round of deadly university protests. He was again arrested and held for three months. inthebul/07
Deniz and his friends began to hang around the dorms of Yildiz State Engineering and Architecture Academy, a growing hotbed of student protest. In late December, the police raided these dorms, finding guns, rifles, and bullets. Deniz was found with firearms and arrested. He spent the next nine months in prison; first in Istanbul, and later in Bursa where he helped organize a massive prison riot in which several guards were taken hostage. During his time in prison, Turkey was wracked with strikes and violence as the government passed bills limiting union freedoms. While in prison Deniz, along with several other PLO-trained student radicals from Ankara’s Middle Eastern Technical University (ODTÜ), began developing an organization to carry out Maoist-style guerrilla warfare in the hope of liberating Turkey from American control. Their goal was to attack landlords and radicalize the countryside, forcing conservative elements in the army to attack with the backing of imperialist powers, thus drawing the entire country into a “popular war.” Their organization, the People’s Liberation Army of Turkey (THKO), never achieved anything of this sort. Late in 1970, the THKO carried out a drive-by shooting in front of the US consulate in Ankara, injuring two Turkish guards. Two weeks later, short on cash, Deniz and other THKO members robbed a bank in Ankara. Within a matter of days, bank workers had identified Deniz as one of the robbers. The sentence for robbery could be as much as twenty years in jail. The robbery sparked a massive manhunt. In Ankara, police raided ODTÜ campus (as much to find left-wing materials as to find Deniz). Although the university’s rector criticized the manner in which the police were conducting their search and argued that ODTÜ was not, “as some have occasionally said, a weapons depot,” he was seen as complicit. His house was bombed the day after the search, causing the university to close. In Istanbul, students protested that the whole case was a “conspiracy” by the political powers-that-be. In February, the THKO—likely including Deniz—kidnapped an American sergeant. However, when they realized that he was black, they apologized profusely, explaining that “the Americans are exploiting both of us.” They released him within hours. Two weeks later, they struck again, this time kidnapping four (white) soldiers and threatening to kill all four unless they were given $400,000 and their political demands broadcast on the radio. In response, jandarma and commandos raided ODTÜ again—one student died and many were injured in the ensuing clashes. When none of their demands were met, Deniz and his friends released the hostages unharmed on March 5, 1971. Four days later, with the situation in the country growing evermore unstable and the government seemingly incapable of handling the situation, a group of army officers attempted a coup. Although it failed, the coup prompted the army high command to issue a memo three days later threatening to act if the rightwing government did not step down and cede power to a nonpartisan cabinet of technocrats. This cabinet was led by Nihat Erim. Hardly an independent, Erim had for many years been right-hand man to İsmet İnönü, the long-time prime minister Under Arrest and former president of Turkey. Within weeks, and under pressure from the army, his government declared martial law in most major cities and in much of the southeast. It closed the student group Revolutionary Youth, the Kurdish group Eastern Culture Hearths, and the right-wing National Hearths. On March 16 Deniz and another THKO member were caught on the road between the towns of Sivas and Kayseri. They had stopped in a village to steal a car and been reported. Depending on the whims of the government, Deniz and the other members of the THKO could be sentenced to death for their membership in a “revolutionary organization.”
Remaining members of the THKO, seeing their friends in jail and feeling the increased government pressure, began planning more violent campaigns. They established a training camp in the mountains northeast of Adana from which they intended to attack an American military base in the town of Kürecik. Again, they never achieved their goal. On May 31, while resting in a small town north of their hideout, the group was discovered by police and killed.  On the same day, the Turkish police surrounded and killed several members of THKP-C, a rival (and far more effective) organization that had kidnapped and killed the Israeli ambassador several weeks earlier. In March of 1972, surviving members of the THKP-C, led by student radical Mahir Çayan, kidnapped three NATO officers from a base in the town of Ünye and demanded the release of Deniz and his fellow radicals. Rejecting any compromise, the Turkish parliament voted to execute Deniz and two other THKO members, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan. Several weeks later, the military stormed the THKP-C’s hideout, killing Mahir, his fellow kidnappers, and their hostages. THKO Trial Despite a last minute attempt by THKO members to secure their release by high-jacking a Bulgaria bound airplane on May 3, Deniz, Yusuf, Deniz’s last words were, “Long live a fully and Hüseyin were executed on May 6, 1972. independent Turkey! Long live the high Deniz’s last reported words were, “Long live a fully ideals of Marxism and Leninism! Long live independent Turkey! Long live the high ideals of Marxism and Leninism! Long live the Turkish and the Turkish and Kurdish people’s struggle Kurdish people’s struggle for independence! Damn for independence! Damn imperialism! Long imperialism! Long live the workers and the villalive the workers and the villagers!” gers!” Killing the THKO and THKP-C leadership failed to crush the Turkish left during the 1970s. Unrest continued—in fact grew—during subsequent years. With its parties circumscribed and its unions weakened, the Turkish left lacked legal means to secure its ends. Right-wing groups, doubting the existing order’s ability to maintain national unity (and often with the tacit backing of right-wing politicians) also established paramilitary organizations. Tit-for-tat killing—including the assassination of Nihat Erim in 1980 by vengeful THKO members—engulfed the country. Only the military coup of 1980 which crushed both the left and the right (albeit in order to pursue the goals of the right) halted the violence. As for Deniz himself, he has become a symbol—far less for the content of his actions than for the hopefulness of the times he represented. In the early 1980s, when publishing material about him was a crime, there was an increase in babies named “Deniz.” With the fading of military restrictions over the past two decades, admirers have written biographies and reminiscences, composed songs, and produced movies. In many cases—a prime example being the 1998 film Hello Tomorrow—there has been debate over his depiction, which verges on apotheosis. In recent years, there have been attempts by students to establish memorial statues. Meanwhile, students continue to join “Idea Clubs” and discuss radical ideas. Flyers and posters for such groups continue to feature pictures of Deniz, Yusuf, and Hüseyin. On May 6 2012, the fortieth anniversary of their executions, opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu became the first leader of his party to visit their graves. During the resent protests, pictures of Deniz, Mahir, and İbrahim Kaypakkaya, the founder of the Turkish Communist Party were common sights. Protests carried signs saying THKP-C and spray-painted “DÖB” (Revolutionary Student Union) around the square. inthebul/09
Like other revolutionary icons, over time, the actual memory of events surrounding his life and death has receded and he has come to symbolize less a set of real events than a set of amorphous feelings—passionate belief, anger toward injustice, resistance toward repression, and hope in the face of a broken system. The real Deniz Gezmiş, the 24 year old student protest leader and would-be revolutionary, could hardly have borne the weight of such heavy symbolism. Deniz Gezmiş, the image, on the other hand, seems to be holding up just fine.  Anthony Lewis, “Turks’ New Mood Is Puzzling,” The New York Times, 2/17/69. Accessed 6/11/13. And James P Brown, “The New Young Turks,” The New York Times, 3/17/69. Accessed 6/11/13.  Nadire Mater, Sokak Güzeldir: ‘68’de Ne Oldu, Istanbul: Metis, 2009, p. 295.  Özgür Mutlu Ulus, The Army and the Radikal Left in Turkey, London: IB Tauris, 2011, p. 108.  Ibid. p, 109.  Aydın Çubukçu, Bizim ’68, Istanbul: Evrensel Basım Yayın, 1998, p. 80.  Robert Komer, “Impact of Pacification on South Vietnam,” Rand Paper. August 1970.  “Deniz Gezmiş´in Filistin macerası,” Haber7, 5/14/05. Accessed 6/12/13.  Güngör Gönültaş, “Akademi Kapatıldı,” Milliyet, 12/21/69. Accessed 6/12/13.  Özgür Mutlu Ulus, The Army and the Radikal Left in Turkey, London: IB Tauris, 2011), p. 126.  “Rektör İnönü’ye göre, ODTÜ’ndeki arama amacından saptırıldı,” Milliyet, p. 1. 1/17/1971. Accessed 6/12/13.  “Dinamitler Yine Patladı,” Milliyet, 1/19/71. p. 9. Accessed 6/12/13.  “Kaçırlanlar çavusa, ‘Bizi affet, dediler,” Milliyet, p. 1. Accessed 6/12/13.  Sevtap Özkahraman, “Kahramanlarım Sinan-Şirin Cemgil...,” Milliyet, 5/30/12. Accessed 6/13/13.  See Margaret Krahenbuhl, “Political Kidnappings, 1971-1972,” RAND, July 1977, pp. 16-26. Accessed 6/13/13. The THKO are depicted as small scale operators, short on ideology and organization in comparison to the THKP-C.  Parliamentary and presidential approval was required. The vote was controversial: Not only did many feel that death was an excessive punishment, but also that the trial itself had been conducted in an unconstitutional fashion. (Semra Çelebi, “1971-1972: Last Days of Young Revolutionaries before Execution,” Bianet, 5/6/09. Accessed 6/13/13. ). The main opposition leaders, İsmet İnönü and Bulent Ecevit, opposed it. The center-right parliamentarians, including Süleyman Demirel, supported it. The Islamist party leader Necmettin Erbakan abstained and the far-right leader Alparslan Türkeş first abstained before finally voting in favor. There seems to be confusion as to the vote because there were two separate votes. In the first on March 10, 1972, the lower house (which has 450 seats) voted 238 for execution and 53 against with159 abstentions; in the second, on April 24, it voted 273 for and 48 against with 118 abstentions. (Oral Çalışlar, “Türkeş, Denizler’in idamında oy kullanmadı mı?” Radikal, 5/9/12. Accessed 6/13/13.). The 183 member senate approved the execution 111 to 34 (Cumhuriyet Senatosu Tutanak Dergisı, 5/2/72, p. 390. Accessed 6/13/13.) Nihat Erim and the President Sunay both approved.  Gökhan Durmuş, “Denizlerin idamını iki gün ertelettik,” Evrensel, 5/7/11. Accessed 6/12/13.  Besides being potentially apocryphal, it has been frequently edited to suit prevailing political conditions. (“Deniz’in son sözleri,” Sol, 5/6/10. Accessed 6/12/13.)  See Bruce Hoffman and Sabri Sayari, “Urbanization and Insurgency: The Turkish Case, 1976-80.” RAND, 1991. Accessed 6/12/13.  Though—let’s be clear—“halt the violence” only in certain ways. In order to stabilize the country, the military employed a tremendous amount of coercion. Unions and newspapers were banned, organizations that advocated separatism or division (very slippery concepts) were banned, a new constitution was introduced giving the state the power to severely limit free speech and other rights in the name of national unity. Left-wingers, right-wingers, advocates for labor, gender, intellectual, and ethnic freedoms were met with responses that could hardly be characterized as “non-violent.”  Ex. Turhan Feyizoğlu, Deniz, Bir İsyancının İzleri, Istanbul: Alfa Yayıncılık, 2007  Erhan Öztürk, “Hello Tomorrow, Goodbye Yesterday,” Hurriyet Daily News, 11/29/98. Accessed 6/11/13. and Stephen Kinzer, “Istanbul Journal; Film Confronts a History Few Turks Can Agree On,” The New York Times, 3/9/99. Accessed 6/12/13. Hoşçakal Yarın can be viewed in its entirety HERE. (“Hoşçakal Yarın,” Youtube. Accessed 6/12/13).  “Deniz Gezmiş heykeli yeniden Mimar Sinan Üniversitesi’nde,” Radikal, 5/23/13. Accessed 6/14/13.  “Kılıçdaroğlu first CHP leader to visit graves of 3 executed leftist students,” Today’s Zaman, 5/6/13. Accessed 6/14/13.
THE CIVILITY OF DISCONTENT A personal exper icence of the first weekend of the r iots
BY rachel Palya Day 1
Friday Istanbul imploded. The most distinctive sensory experience was sound. The slow procession of metal slamming to the ground as armored trucks roll past unleashing unpredictable threats, the crack of a gun sending a tube of pepper gas into a crowd with disregard for its trajectory, motorcycles roaring up and down the streets picking up the injured, and the dragging of scaffolding and whatever else material the protestors could get their hands on to build a barricade to stop police from driving down the street. Initially, as the protest began terror set in, as no one knew how far it would escalate, especially since it began as Friday rush hour peaked. Women in their pencil skirts and cardigans descending from their offices, busses full of children confused by the building chaos, and those who just know that something is happening and wanted to be a part of it. It was as if everyone had been keeping this secret and quickly discovered that everyone else was keeping the exact same secret, that they were discontented with their government. As individuals they lived in fear of breathing the words, but as a group had the strength to shout it with a fierce passion that had been slowly building since the 1980’s. The main street to the square was blocked by police, as the protestors inched forward. The crowd was slowly growing as people from outside the city center were able to make their way to the protest. Attacks came in waves, as the crowd would build, pushing back the chokehold the police had on the only main route to the center, they would respond with a series of pepper gas rounds and the crowds would disperse. The scenes that followed each attack were heart wrenching. This wasn’t a crowd of young anarchists, most people were not even affiliated with any particular group, most just came out of solidarity of the unjust way the police were responding. Across the crowd were old men in collared shirts and leather shoes, women in dresses and sling backs, and teenagers in high-top shoes. Not a single person was chanting a particular group’s slogan, their message was a chorus demanding their Prime Minister to resign. We were trying to make our way to the main street, seeking salvation in the side streets when a new assault of pepper gas or water cannons came. Those moments were terrifying because of the panic that followed. People would run, and push and shove and people shouted to go ‘SLOW! SLOW! SLOW!” to prevent a stampede. Some moments are imprinted on your brain, one that will forever resonate in mine is a street boy of about 10 getting tripped as people ran away, and him being close enough for me to grab him, but he slipped through my fingers. As the panic settled I searched for him looking to see if he was amongst one of the groups, his cut hands and knees being tended to. But I couldn’t find him, I will never know. On door steps you could see lemons cut in half. Lemons that were purchased for evening salads were being offered up by mothers and families to aid the protestors to calm the burn of the pepper gas on skin, a small sign of support, because it’s human nature to ease those who are visibly suffering. The night carried on, more people came and the mood shifted from threatening to positive, partly because your body normalizes to the conditions surrounding you and because after constant adrenaline exhaustion settles in. By this point the entrepreneurs start coming out. A woman in a head scarf, socks and sandals was selling meatball sandwiches and beer. Men with boxes of carpenter’s masks for the pepper gas attacks. Shops along the street put the ice cream refrigerators in front of their doors blocking entry but selling lemon juice, water, and vinegar which eases the effects of the gas. If you have never experienced pepper gas it’s a difficult feeling to explain. It stings of course as if pepper is being rubbed on your face, in your eyes and down your throat, but what is really scary is suffocating and the moment of panic when you feel as if you will die, the inability to breath. What was amazing was the camaraderie, a collective spirit that could have easily manifested into anger and violence, but it didn’t. Respect for each other was never lost, strangers spraying milk into each other’s eyes to pacify to the stinging tears.
It’s only been two days but it feels like it’s been continuing for a week. We didn’t go to bed till late in the evening the previous night. Waking up exhausted is an odd sensation, but it’s quickly abated as anticipation builds. It’s also in this moment that you realize you haven’t eaten in the last 12 hours and that hunger has set in. In the morning the streets were normal, the stores were open and people walked and up and down the side walk with shopping bags in their hands, or that’s how it looked. Meanwhile, two streets parallel, the crowd was rebuilding and more people came as word spread of what was happening. Concurrently, little news was reaching other areas. Turkish news spoke a not a word of what was happening, aired not one video or picture. Rumors had been circulating that Facebook and Twitter were being blocked, whether this is true cannot be confirmed, but there were moments without internet connection, delayed text messages, and blocked communication. The exchanges continued just as they did the day before until late afternoon when the protestors finally broke through and the police retreated. Knowing what’s true and what are lies is difficult. Some of the rumors that circulated were that as the police retreated Taksim square they left two police cars intentionally so that protestors would overturn and vandalize it, which they did. On day two in the evening people began drinking beer and some have said that the police were distributing beer to lower the credibility of the protestors which only resulted in drinking being a symbol against recent legislation that severely restricted the sale of alcohol. The general sentiment isn’t anger, it is betrayal. People feel betrayed that instead of their government protecting them, they violated their right to physical safety. Betrayal because instead of the media functioning as a fourth pillar voicing the objective truth they coward behind stock reels of cooking shows. But the biggest betrayal was that they needed a catalyst for this to happen, that they couldn’t say what they felt in the light of day. As fathers rest children on their shoulders in Gezi Park and expose them to the hope they retain for their Republic and the future of Turkish democracy, the collective voice of the disenfranchised with get louder, and hopefully loud enough for the world to hear.
The Istanbul Gas Festival BY REUBEN SILVERMAN Listening to a BBC reporter describe the protests that engulfed several Istanbul neighborhoods in the past several days is surreal. The BBC emphasizes the violence against police, the damage caused, and the conciliatory tone taken by the Turkish prime minister. Aspects of these details are true: Istiklal, the city’s main pedestrian street, is covered in trash and graffiti; police vehicles have been destroyed; and the prime minister did suggest that police may have overreacted in some cases. Everything else largely misses the mark. Police excess is routine in Turkey. On a typical day, two or three police buses will be parked here or there along Istiklal. Hoards of police will stand, menacingly observing tiny crowds of peaceful protesters. Recently, police repression has gotten worse. Several weeks ago, protests against the closing of a famous old cinema were broken up with water cannons. On May 1, the city banned protesters from entering Taksim Square claiming it would be dangerous in light of ongoing construction. Though the precaution may have been reasonable, the manner in which it was dictated to people—and the fact that the construction itself is unpopular—rankled. Closing landmarks has become routine in the Taksim area—the movie theater had been proceeded by a famous desert parlor. Such closures typically occur in order to build some gaudy new shopping mall. Though, economically speaking, the closures are reasonable—the movie theater, for example, garnered more affection than actual attendance—it is the symbolism that truly angers people.
The raid triggered protests that were again met with tear gas. Police fired gas indiscriminately— tourists and the elderly were caught up in clouds of gas.
Controlling urban space and symbols has long been a pre-occupation of the current government. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to people via cities like Istanbul—no matter how many rural votes it attracts, it must be understood as an primarily urban party. Its leader, Recep Tayip Erdoğan, was the mayor of Istanbul before he became prime minister. The current mayor is a close associate of Erdoğan’s. Since coming to power in Istanbul in the mid1990s, the AKP (and its predecessor parties) have sought to both make the city safe for pious Muslims and to make urban space itself more Islamic. Municipal logos have been given more “Islamic” looks. More mosques have been built—often in provocative places.
Alcohol is special focus of the government: Over the past decade, alcohol has been banned on government premises (including parks, restaurants, and waterfronts). Private bars and restaurants have been prohibited from having tables outside their establishments. And, just a week ago, a slew of new alcohol regulations were passed, limiting sale hours, banning most advertising, and requiring retailers to remove visible alcohol from their windows or else paint those windows black. Regulations such as these are generally popular in the country at large, but the manner in which they have been dictated to the less conservative members of Turkish society has fanned resentment. It adds to a sense of helplessness in the face of a government which is both popular and hostile. Then came Gezi Park. Gezi Park is a small park beside Taksim Square; it is peaceful, quite, and usually full of somewhat down-atheel looking old men. Though seldom a destination, its trees do provide visual relief from endless concrete vistas. As part of the Taksim Square redevelopment, these trees are to be ripped down and a large building put in their place. There is much concern that this will simply be another mall in a city already overflowing with them.
In opposition to the impending tree cutting, protesters occupied the park. The police raided with tear gas and extreme force early in the morning. The raid triggered protests that were again met with tear gas. Police fired gas indiscriminately—tourists and the elderly were caught up in clouds of gas. Rather than fire at proper angles, police were seen firing straight into protesters causing serious injuries. Moreover—as I can attest—police fired tear gas into crowds so packed that—If not for the diligent work of protesters to maintain calm and direct escape flows—there would have been stampedes. There were clashes around Taksim Square and nearby transportation hubs, like Besiktas, through the night. By Saturday crowds were pouring into the area. The police continued aggressively gassing protesters past midday. Large amounts of tear gas were fired into residential streets and next to hospitals without any concern for innocent bystanders. Around 5pm police were given the order to withdraw from Taksim. And so they did: police did not merely stand down, they departed completely. The enter city center was without law enforcement through the night. The results were inspiring and distressing. Bars and restaurants all through Taksim’s backstreets put out tables and chairs, giving the city’s nightlife a vibrancy it hasn’t felt in several years. Thousands upon thousands of people surged into Taksim Square. There was singing and dancing. Crowds chanted slogans like, “Government resign,” and “We stand shoulder to shoulder against fascism,” and—holding beers aloft— “Cheers to Tayip!” There was a palpable sense of victory mixed with worry. Fighting was continuing to the northeast in Besiktas and there were fears that the police were massing for a late night attack. Without any police presence (or any group stepping into maintain order) the celebration was mixed with chaos. Vacated police cars and construction equipment were destroyed, construction buildings were set on fire or striped to build barricades. Buildings up and down Istiklal were vandalized. Nonetheless, for a moment Turkish beleaguered secularists felt a moment of triumph. The question is how long it will last. [NOTE: The following morning, protesters organized themselves into cleanup-crews and began removing all the previous day’s trash. By noon on Sunday, the square and part were even cleaner than usual—just in time for new crowds to come streaming in.]  “Turkey protests: Third day of anti-government unrest,” BBC News, 6/2/13. Accessed on 6/2/13.  Occupy Gezi Tumblr. “PM Erdoğan calls on demonstrators to end Gezi Park protest, no step back from project,” Hurriyet Daily News, 6/1/13. Accessed 6/2/13.  “Emek Protestosuna Polis Mudahelesi - Police Intervention to Emek Theatre,” Youtube. Accessed 6/2/13.
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Kamer Hatun Mh. Meşrutiyet Cd No:51, 34420 (0212) 292 6496
Sometimes small means intimate, but sometimes it just means cramped. At Cok Cok Thai it means
the latter. The dining room is small, making patrons maneuver, and on occasion choose to introduce either their ass or genitals to the table next to them. Cok Cok Thai established in the heart of Beyoglu’s Pera neighborhood in 1996 and has been serving Thai inspired food every since. On the weekends expect to wait if you don’t have a reservation, they also have limited patio seating. The menu isn’t expansive but caters to most palates, ranging from spicy to sweet dishes mostly based around prawns, beef, or chicken. I had the “Phad Phed” with prawns, with flavors of curry and coconut milk the palate was spot on and presently nicely, but the portion size small and rice was not included. The ingredients were organic and fresh and authentically Thai and Asian. What sets this place apart is the Asian inspired mojitos and cocktails, your mouth can’t decide if it’s a Pina Colada, with real chucks of pineapple and fresh mint leaves, this drink sneaks up on you and is just one of the many they have to choose from. If cocktails are not your scene they also have a wine cellar stocked with domestic and international flavors. The service was very friendly and accommodating though during peak hour’s service may not be as expedient and attentive. For a full meal including drinks, appetizers, main dishes and dessert for two expect to drop some coin. Ethnic cuisine and Asian flavors are slowing making their way into the Istanbul food scene, to satiate your cravings Cok Cok Thai should do the trick.
Çelebioglu Sokagi 14-16, Besiktas (0212) 327 7190
Breakfast in Turkey is hard to beat. It usually consists of a number of small dishes of delectable
bites of both sweet and savory, and hours ceremoniously talking to friends with no regard for the time. Centrally located in downtown Beşiktaş in what I have dubbed ‘Breakfast Row,’ Pisi is a cozy breakfast joint with an indie rock/electro/eclectic theme, plus it’s not as cramped as nearby restaurants. Breakfast is generally stock in Turkey consisting of cheeses, olives, deli meats, tomatoes, cucumbers, and jams, but on occasion you get some variation, thus is the case with Pişi. Pişi is actually a type of fried dough similar to a funnel cake/egg roll that opens like a pide, each table gets a generous portion and it is addictive and insatiable and tastes phenomenally good with anything. Breakfast plates are 11TL and portions are fair but don’t include honey and cream. The burgers are delicious but the selection is limited to 4 types of burgers. Reasons I might skip it: General food is good but nothing spectacular Reasons I would go again: Good music and Pişi, Pişi, Pişi
Kılıçalipaşa Mescidi Sok. No:9/A Karaköy (0212) 243 6525
Muhit is one of my favourite cafés in Karaköy. In a quiet street near Istanbul Modern there is a small pas-
sage shared by two restaurants, Muhit and Comedor. To be honest, I guess I like it because it’s located in the new and thriving hipster part of the city, the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mah. the area, still full of old businesses and dirty streets now coexists with trendy bars and designer shops. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s why I like the place. Not too expensive, good looking people and creative vibe to the place. I guess what Cihangir might have looked like some years ago. Muhit is a café that caters for informal business meetings, as a bank and financial area are close. It also serves tocool advertisers and creatives that have their offices nearby too. Located behind the Kılıç Ali Paşa Cami Muhit’s passage has a great breeze, direct from the Bosporus, and shade provided by vine leafs. This makes it ideal sopt to chill on a hot and humid day. Sometimes the place is packed, sometimes it’s empty. What’s bad about it: I’m from Barcelona so I don’t expect waiters to speak english, but I do expect them to do their job in a certain amount of time. This is not the case. I mean, I know that in Istanbul you have to enjoy the slow moments that life provides, like waiting for your buzlu cafe latte. But there is a limit to how much I can wait for a coffee. They have no alcohol, a kitchen that only caters to breakfast and a somewhat annoying jazzy versions of hit is the style of Nouvelle Vague. Even though, it doesn’t make it a place I wouldn’t recommend. What’s good about it: The location is perfect, the crowd is calm and nice to the eyes. If you are one of those people that want to splash out on Uludağ Premium mineral water and eat organic designer toasts you can, it’s your place. If you wanna a reasonably priced tea and chat, write or use their wifi, it’s cool for you too. I keep on going to this place. I don’t know why. The location, the atmosphere and the passage reminds me of a bar I love back home, in Barcelona. I just wish the owner desired to make some profit out of the place because I don’t understand the limited menu and the just about tolerable service. Maybe its just a neurolinguistic programing and I like it because it triggers something in me. Maybe it’s a really nice place. The thing is, I really recommend you check out Muhit before it gets too cold and also check out the area.
Last week I went to a Birthday party and somebody brought a custom cake for the party boy. It was like one of those cakes you normally see on the internet. A beautifully hand crafted and customized Super Mario or Louis Vuitton handbag cake. Initially i thought that the girl had made this cake and she was amazingly talented but later in the party she told me that she just ordered it from a shop. The place was www.ozelpastam. com. We decided to try out their service.
For the custom cakes it takes between 24 and 48 hours and you have to provide a picture of what you want. All this can be done online and the cake is delivered to your house. They also have a catalog of cakes for those who are less creative but want to still give a nice surprise. One of the nice things is that the make beautiful Christmas icing cookies and cakes, something I tried to make last year but failed terribly. We wanted a cake in the shape of a Jäggermeister bottle. We also had some specific requirements for özel pastam. The first was that we didn’t want a chocolate cake but a banana and strawberry one. This requirement wasn’t an issue. The second requirement was if the cake could have some Jäggermeister taste and liquor. This was impossible due to some legal reasons, but i’m sure it can be done, even if you have to inject the heavenly black liquid yourself. All we needed was a little planning, just 24 hours, an idea and 50tl to create an amazing cake.
IN THE BULâ€™S DRINKOPEDIA Ar e you tir ed of having the same long dr inks in Istanbul? The same ter r ibly made mojitos? Dr inkopedia aims to solve this problem by cr eating a cocktail book with inter esting r ecipies and decent cocktail places in Istanbul.
VALENCIANO #ba leN â€˜ja no#
The Valenciano is a r efr eshing cocktail that is normally drank after a large meal in the form of a dessert. The orange juice and the rum make it a strong digestive. The icecr eam is just to make it look like a dessert.
the lost sounds of turkish rock and roll
I have always loved rock and roll. Not only rock and roll but psychedelic rock, garage and experimental rock too. When I came to live in Turkey it felt that there was no rock and roll made during the 60’s. Every time I asked or did some research about rock during that magical decade people always came up with the same answer: Erkin Koray and Barış Manço. This filled my appetite for a few months. One day I casually came across something called Altın Mikrofon. It was an annual music contest held between 1965-1968 by Hürriyet Gazzete in order to ”Redirect Turkish music using tecnique and style of the western music as well as the instruments of the western music”. The idea was to create a shift in turkish music, to move away from just simple covers sung in turkish or traditional turkish folk songs played with electric guitars and “western” instruments. The idea was to create genuine turkish rock and roll. Thanks to Hürryiet’s initiative during the second part of the 60’s a few bands appeared and started creating what we can now call the lost sounds of turkish rock and roll. These bands were strongly influenced by american and british rock bands like The Doors, The Shadows or The Beatles. Bands like Silüetler, Kent Yedilisi, Mavi Işıklar or Haramiler enjoyed a successful but brief period in the turkish music scene. In the newspaper archives we can see that in 1971 none of these bands are in the top selling albums or singles. Instead we can see Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath or CCR
Thanks to the internet we can recover these lost sounds. Here is a downloadable podcast with the greatest hits from this brief but fruitful period if you don’t want to spend hours checking record shops or sahibinden. com to buy the albums for about 250 TL a piece. Imagine Istanbul in the 60’s with big american cars boosting original turkish rock. If Quentin Tarantino wanted to do a film inspired Turkey this would definitely be it’s soundtrack. Enjoy.
7th August @ Parkorman
Last week the british band The XX came to play in Istanbul for the first time. It was also my first time seeing them. It was also my first time at Parkorman. The XX concert was part of the summer “festival” called Istanbul Calling, the Vodafone one. This kind of festival is new to me. The concept of a series of individual gigs spread out during the summer, not having possibility to buy a festival ticket and, not having a direction in what they program was all new. No wonder they claim to be Istanbul’s longest music fest. The idea is to bring live music to the city, and that’s good for us. The concerts took place in the now old Beşiktaş BJK Inonü Stadium and Parkorman. There were also parallel activities in places like Babylon, Babylon Lounge, Salon IKSV, Macka Park, Salt, and Pera Museum. Well, it was the first time we went to a concert in Parkorman. The idea of a festival in a forest sounds cool, and it was a hot summer afternoon so we decided to go when the doors opened, which has at 6. We got there at 7. It’s easy to get there, 5 minutes walking from the Darüşşafaka metro station. We had a beer and a köfte outside thinking it was gonna be cheaper, but no it’s the same price. You’ve gotta give some to the little man as well. Inside its nice, but full of stations of food, booze, and sponsors. I guess they give you stuff if you were Vodafone. It’s nice. Nice people, in the XX’s case, nice cool cihangirly people. If you haven’t been to an outside concert, it’s kind of common to sell exclusive front row tickets, the Sahne Önü price. It’s not really that worth it at Parkorman. Ok, we were supposed to talk about the concert. If you know The XX you will understand that it tis very hard to define their music, it’s a mix of different styles but they have managed to create their own sound. Love them or not it seems impossible not to enjoy that dark and minimalistic sound with there signature guitar rifs, synthesizers, drums and those amazingly sexy voices. If you’re not a big fan I can understand, it might seem like just another hipster fan, but the truly fill a void in the actual music panorama, not only with there unique blend of styles but also with their dark lyrics. The show was great, i loved it, the lightning artist did a great show to create the desired atmosphere of shadows, smoke and psychedelia. If you listen to The XX at home the tracks seem to be slow and more of an ambient, not that great for a live show. To my satisfaction the remixed songs like Step Away, Reunión and Sunset for this tour to make them more danceable. To be honest what i liked the most was the dark and intimate atmosphere created, the crowd and Jamie XX was just amazing.
A week ago a friend told me that there were cool parties going on near Kiliyos, the black sea part of Istanbul. I was told it was an initiative inspired by the strong electronic scene in Istanbul and the screening of the documentary of Bar 25 in the 32nd Istanbul Film Festival. To be honest I really didn’t pay much attention to what I was told as I never thought it was as good as it was. One night, considerably drunk, I stumble into some friends and I tell them that tonight I wanna burn the city. They said -today is your lucky day, we are going to Suma Beach-. Thirty minutes later I was at Şişhane (IKSV) getting a free shuttle that would drop me off at the entrance 45 minutes later. My first thought was: how the fuck am I gonna get back home? And after paying 50 tl for an entrance I thought i had made a big mistake coming to this place. Everything changed when we approached the entrance. Music was great, the lightning amazing and the whole setting outstanding. Following the style of BAR25 the decoration was a mix of a travelers village with wooden carts and a Volkswagen van and a chilled out independent village with hammocks, couches and cushions. The place is not that big, just enough to get lost and find your friends again. Now for the important information, music was amazing. The people were a mix of cool young istanbulites, party heads and just some lost souls. Is it expensive? Well 50 tl for a fluorescent bracelet is expensive but totally worth the experience. The bar inside is not that expensive as a 50 cl beer was 10tl and a vodka 20tl. I also loved the system of beads instead of drink tokens, this proves the attention to detail. Suma beach isn’t just a business, it’s a successful attempt to create a milestone in the Istanbul night scene. Trust me, this will be. My only credentials are that I come from Barcelona, a city devoted to nightlife where something as authentic as this would be impossible to find now. I enjoyed myself so much that night that by the time I could think what I was doing it was 8 am, just a few dozen of people left, the sun is up and the music is still amazing. Chatted with some foreigners, some turks. We all agreed, we had fun. When the party is over you have two options, you can pay 20 tl liras to enter the beach and continue the party or go home. We decided to go back home but the next shuttle didn’t leave until 12 so we took a 40 tl taxi to Haciosman metro station. To avoid problems with the shuttles you should check out their Facebook page. Suma beach is not for light party heads, you need to love the night. But one thing is for sure, it’s a maybe one off summer party and in my humble opinion one of the best independent rave parties available this summer in Turkey and also Europe. Suma beach happens every weekend during this summer, don’t miss your chance to be part of the experience.
I Istanbul Riots in images Just as the sumer of 2013 was starting, the city of Istanbul stood up to the Republicâ€™s government. They took Gezi park, marched the streets and protested like Iâ€™ve never seen before. The police brutality was also unbelievable. Images were broadcasted all over the world, some just stayed on your facebook. Vocabulary was created. Jokes were made. We wanted to take a look at the creativity that emerged from these protests. We wanted a small collection of images that could explain the Gezi revolution showing the creativity and beauty that emerged from it.
II TOMA: Turkish made police vehicle used to control and disperse demonstrations. Effectiveness diminishes if it cant access water regularly. Great prices can be found online.
III The Girl in Red: Probably one of the most iconic images of the riots. This single picture can be used to explain the whole riots and the deep issues that gave life to the protests
IIII Gökkuşağı Devrimi: Misunderstood initially as a LGBT protest, the stairs in Findikli were repainted by the municipality. People reacted by painting everything in rainbow colours. Others just loved the colour grey.
IIIII Graffiti: Common byproduct of any protest. During the protest the variety and quality of the visual image and depth of the content was outstanding. Here are some of out favourites.
IIIIII Creativity: The Gezi protests gave space to a huge amount of talent focusing on
one huge subject. Art has always been a method to explain hisotry that alows the observer create his own story.
Our modern society lives totally immersed in an audiovisual culture. Information is shared in the shape of images and sound and it’s impact is immediate. Istanbul-graph is a new venture by Bünyamin Tepe. It’s a graphical representation of Istanbul that grew out of his shared interest in cartography, typography, infographics and the urban experience. The Istanbul-graph consist of two prints, one of them shows the population of each municipality.
The second one informs about the square kilometers available in each area. The graph give a simple and powerful image that allows us to understand the housing, transport and population density that Istanbul suffers. Prints are A3 size on 200g white stock. Made in Istanbul. Limited edition of 50. Individually hand numbered and signed. 20 TL firstname.lastname@example.org
13th Istanbul Biennale
The title “Mum, am I a Barbarian? refers to the unspoken side of the human interaction in the city. The risk of marginalization in the public space. The upstart of the individual in the big city, a world of communication and networking where groups like outcasts, foreigners and immigrants are, by definition, excluded. Everyone else was at least there in one occasion. The main idea of the Biennial is to focus on the spaces of the city. The ethical, political and sociological aspects of the urban growth is not a fad. It’s the answer to the really overwhelming numbers of the city. Istanbul has now 15 million registered inhabitants, but probably it’s several million more. And that, in a country of 70 million, represents a 20 percent of its population. At the current rate, the city will be a megalopolis of 25 million people in a few years. Mum, am I a Barbarian? (1998) is the title to an article by the turkish author, Lale Müldür, to whom the Biennial makes the allusion. But it doesn’t refer to the idea of cruelty that we normally associate with the word barbarian, but more towards the Greek concept which talks about alienation, not belonging, social exclusion. Since the conceptual framework of the Biennale puts the focus on public spaces and the feelings of the individual against the urban life, the call does not want to restrict itself to a closed environment. This means that the space of the Biennale has been dispersed to different locations in the city. The Biennial Director, Bige Örer, does not consider the Bienniale’s approach as political, in the sense of questioning the model of socail development that the government is applying in Istanbul. It’s more of an approach that will serve to share questions about a developing city. Fulya Erdemci, the curator, clarifies the distinction between art and political activism. “They share the same purpose, but not the same measures. They operate on different registers: the function of art is moving in the symbolic field to have a result”. From September to November, artists and spectators must reflect and try to answer the questions presented about cities in our current developing and recessing times. So, after all this nice talk. Would I recommend the Biennale? Sure! it’s free! and it’s always a nice activity to challenge yourself with some contemporary art. The vast amount of documentation, timelines and, just weird-noisy installations can be a let down. Just like the event’s image. To be honest, what I would have liked to see was a better organization of the works. Conceptual spaces. Isn’t that the job of museums these days? Throughout the different exhibition places there were tiny pictures of nebulas by Lutz Bacher. It would have been nice to see the lines connecting the stars in order to see the constellations and enjoy, what otherwise is an incomprehensible but beautiful starry night.
Lux Linder - Treatise on Argentine Reality
David Moreno- Silence
The vast amount of documentation, timelines and, just weir d-noisy installations can be a let down. Just like the event's image.
Jorge Gallindo & Santiago Sierra - Los Encargados
Maider LĂłpez â€“ Ataskoa (Traffic Jam)
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