From time to time on this blog, I feature photos from friends and colleagues who happen to be traveling to the four corners of the world. Less than 24 hours ago, Asbed Kotchikian, a good friend whose photos of the Balkans were posted on this site last summer, arrived in Istanbul.
This is what Asbed wrote on his FB page: “Getting into the city from the airport, it felt as if Istanbul was having another lazy Sunday. People in the parks BBQing and relaxing. Once you get to Taksim, you see the graffiti and the constant march of people from one end of Istiklal Avenue to the other. The square itself is in a festive mood; people are chanting and idling as if it is a holiday. What strikes me the most is the number of store displays shattered (most of them banks) as if the whole demonstration has an element of anti-capitalism, yet there are elements of capitalism and consumerism all over and among the demonstrators (masks, flags, water, watermelon being sold). Finally it’s interesting to see how the founder of the republic, Ataturk, is now being appropriated by both the government and the opposition. Almost everywhere you can see demonstrators holding up Turkish flags with a picture of Ataturk.”
The photographs speak for themselves in bold colors and words. The comparison with the Occupy movement is evident, but not sufficient, for here we see clear indications of anti-capitalist sentiment, a population fed up, it seems, with the neo-liberal economic agenda of the Turkish government, fed up with public space turned into hotels and malls for the enjoyment of passing tourists. Add to that, the environmentalists, the communists, the trade unions, the activists for Kurdish rights and the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the feminists and LGBT community, and you have a mass manifestation similar to Tahrir rather than Occupy.
Thanks, Asbed, for sharing these terrific photos! Be safe, be wide-eyed, ortakh!