A Report on the Situation in Turkey from CULTSTUD-L

A Report on the Situation in Turkey

I am writing this to inform you that people in over 65 cities of 81 in
Turkey are demonstrating against the reactionary and oppressive regime of
Tayyip Erdogan and his party. We have demonstrations even in the most
reactionary cities in Turkey. People in every neighborhood in the cities
are on the street. Police throw gas bombs at demonstrators, beat and arrest
people. It is not like in the late 1960s, because people did not care about
us much then. We students were demonstrating for independence and socialism
then. Now everybody is on the street. Nobody cheered when we were
demonstrating in the late 60s in Turkey. Now people are cheering and
supporting the demonstrators. Today we have more people on the street in my
neighborhood in Ankara than yesterday. Police are shooting gas bombs inside
the houses because people are providing shelter for demonstrators who are
escaping from gas and police beatings. Youngsters and people from every
walk of life are on the street and want the Erdogan government to resign.
Erdogan uses the classic rhetoric about demonstrators and he threatens them
by saying that he can send one million supporters to the street (he means,
to smash the demonstrations). He says: “I keep 50 percent of the population
at home” (he means that he can use 50 percent of people who support him
against the other people). His mindset and approach reminds me of Jay Gould
who said once that he is not worried about demonstrations and labor
strikes, because he can hire one-half of the working class to kill the
other half. For a lot of people, Erdogan is a reactionary dictator. In
Turkey people are scared to say something against Erdogan. Television did
not provide any news about the demonstrations except the television
stations of the major opposition party and Turkish Labor party television,
because mainstream media either support the administration or are scared of
Erdogan’s rage/wrath. People in Istanbul walked in front of the major
television stations and announced that if they do not feature them in the
news they will occupy the TV station. Then, TV stations started reporting,
but in a highly distorted manner. After this incident, very few media
personnel resigned from their posts in the TV channel. Erdogan scolded the
Reuters journalist who dared to ask him a question that he did not like.
The Internet is used for the most effective channel of communication and
organization of the protests by everybody. Erdogan expressed his utmost
anger against Twitter and social media. Everybody uses their mobile phone
for communication and recording the events and putting/disseminating them
on the Internet. Mainstream media started lying as usual. Two main labor
unions in Turkey run by those who ask some meaningless concessions from the
government try to stop workers to demonstrate, but workers are on the
street, too. Demonstrations are rapidly spreading all over the country.
Soon, I know, religious reactionaries (not all religious people are
reactionary) will attack demonstrators. There is a high probability that we
will witness a domestic/civil war in Turkey.
I was at the center of the demonstrations in Ankara yesterday and the day
before. Demonstrators do not do anything wrong, but police continuously
shoot pressured water, gas and noise bombs at them and attack
demonstrators. Police behave like they are fighting an enemy. They curse at
and threaten people by e.g. saying: “get lost otherwise we arrest you and
you know what we do when we arrest you.” We know there are some progressive
and conscientious people in the police force, but they are also under the
threat of the empire of fear. But we will see a differing police behavior
as the time goes by in the process. Now, there is an indiscriminate use of
gas bombs (CS gas). Your eyes get severely burned and you cannot breathe,
you start coughing, and you feel dizzy if you are close to the fume. Also
when it hits you or blows up beside you, you get shocked (I saw it). So far
we have four killings and many wounded.
As usual, they claim that demonstrators/provocateurs destroy and vandalize
everything around. Yes we see a lot of destruction; in fact, it is started
and done by plain-cloth police. How do I know: (1) this is a historical
fact. (2) I know from the late 60s, because we could recognize the police
then, but it is difficult to recognize them now. (3) How come there is no
vandalism, destruction and terror where there is no police around? Here are
few examples: I attend demonstrations at the center of the city where
police provokes, attacks and where plain cloth police destroys everything
around provoking some young people to do the same. My daughter and my wife
and neighbors attend huge demonstrations in our neighborhood where there is
no police presence yet: You can see no violence, no destruction and no
vandalism in these demonstrations.
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About Virality

Tony D. Sampson is Reader in Digital Culture and Communications at the University of East London. A former musician, he studied computer technology and cultural theory before receiving a PhD in sociology from the University of Essex. His publications include The Spam Book, coedited with Jussi Parikka (Hampton Press, 2009), Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), The Assemblage Brain: Sense Making in Neuroculture (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) and Affect and Social Media (Rowman and Littlefield, due 2018). He is organizer and host of the Affect and Social Media conferences in the UK, a co-founder of Club Critical Theory and Director of the EmotionUX Lab at UEL. He occasionally blogs at: https://viralcontagion.wordpress.com/ Full academic profile: https://www.uel.ac.uk/Staff/s/tony-sampson
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