[Spanish translation here]
Istanbul, June 29
The two biggest popular forums in Istanbul are Beşiktaş and Kadıköy. They host thousands of people every day. The former is a point of reference for the European side of the city, the latter for the Asian side. Both are apparently very distinct in nature, like all the districts of Istanbul. Beşiktaş is left wing with a tendency towards anarchism. Kadıköy is mixed, leaning towards nationalism. Other districts, like Üsküdar are more islamist. But the distinctions don’t end here. Some neighbourhoods are dominated by cats, some by dogs. They don’t mix. The cats have the upper hand.
One thing that people from all the districts have in common is that they love to march and chant. Last Tuesday, we walked together with a few dozen people from Üsküdar to Yoğurtçu Parkı, home of the popular forum of Kadıköy. We again voiced our displeasure with the release of the police officer who killed Ethem Sarısülük. Upon arrival, people took the streets for yet another spontaneous march, applauded by the local population.
On Thursday we marched with the people of Beşiktaş, from their home base in Abbasağa Parkı to the television studio of ATV private media group, to protest against the lies that were spread by one of the company’s newspapers. They had insinuated that Ethem Sarısülük had burned a Turkish flag, as if to say that he deserved what happened to him. Two nights in a row, thousands marched. And when they returned, they continued their daily business of making revolution as if it were a normal day’s work.
Yoğurtçu Parkı is very much into community building. Abbasağa Parkı is much more politically focused, and evolving fast. Since the last time we were there, the list of working groups had almost doubled. There was a map at the entrance of the park to indicate where the working groups were meeting. There were three Çapulcu cafes. A new wing had been added to the Resistance Museum. The park has its own newspaper now. A commission had been founded for internal coordination between the working groups, and external coordination between the parks. An international commission was about to be founded.
We speak with two girls from the coordination desk. Their English, like that of most people we meet, is impeccable. Their revolutionary enthusiasm is boundless, their ambitions are huge, and growing bigger by the day. What started off with a few trees in Gezi Park, quickly turned into an uprising against the dictatorship of Tayyip Erdogan. Now it’s not even about him anymore. He is not important. He and his gang will be swept away. What people are working on, day after day, is a revolution in the most literal sense of the word. A change from top-down politics to politics from the bottom up.
What pleasantly surprises me is that the Turks are not repeating the errors of the Spanish indignados or the Occupy movement. In almost all of the Spanish occupations, decisions were taken by the General Assembly on the basis of consensus. To make it work, people wasted a lot of energy in defining the assembly’s methodology. In practice, this resulted in endless bullshit. And even if people finally agreed on something, it was usually what the Austrians call ‘Sitzfleischkonsensus’: those who can bear the bullshit long enough take the decisions. Which is just another form of top-down politics.
Zuccotti Park was similar, but with a twist. The Trojan horse of Occupy Wall Street was the money. After the NYCGA got flooded with donations, something changed. It was bitter irony. In the end, the General Assemblies in Liberty Square were not about revolutionary politics any more. They had become vulgar discussions about the allocation of funds for outlandish projects.
The Turks do their own thing. They don’t accept donations and they don’t accept the authority of the General Assembly. In fact, they don’t even call it an assembly. It’s an open Forum, where everybody can voice their grievances and their ideas. Decisions are made directly in the working groups, by the people who actively participate. The Murcia model.
We speak with a few nationalist Turks. They acknowledge the differences. But for them, the most important thing is not the way of organization, it’s the act of resistance. ‘Direniş’. In the West, authorities more or less willingly allowed the occupations to happen. Not here. To be able to start their revolution, people had to fight, hard, for days in a row. They had to win. And they did. They beat the police and took the square by force. They destroyed the myth of the authority’s invincibility. They proved that ultimately the only true authority resides with the people. And hell, they have reason to be proud of it.
Next we speak to a lawyer. He emphasizes how this is a movement in which the working class and the middle class stand shoulder to shoulder. For freedom, against bigotry, against the influence of the big multinationals. He adds that many Muslims are sympathetic to the movement because they don’t consider Erdogan to be a true believer, for one basic reason. In Islamic culture it is forbidden to charge interest, which is exactly what keeps the banking system afloat. Erdogan’s leniency towards big business makes him not only an enemy of the working class and the middle class shop owners, but of Allah himself.
Yesterday, again, was a day for the history books. In Lice, Turkish Kurdistan, there was a demonstration against the enlargement of the local police station. And when Kurds are involved, authorities don’t only use their standard remedies, like tear gas and water cannons. No, they fire real bullets. One person got killed, ten got injured. As a reaction, all over the country, people took the streets in solidarity with the Kurds. Everybody. Also the nationalists. Also the people who used to oppose the peace process in favour of all-out war.
Something like this has never been witnessed before. It was unimaginable. People with Turkish flags and images of Atatürk shouting slogans in Kurdish, a language that used to be banned until very recently. Maybe the government tried to split the movement with their repression of Kurdish ‘terrorists’, but if they did, they accomplished the opposite.
Now, finally, there can be peace in Turkey. Not because of the government’s geopolitical interests in the Middle East, but because the people themselves are making peace. They are realising that the Kurds or any other group are not the enemy. If there is an enemy, it’s he who tries to divide us, who slanders us, who brutalizes us, who orders force to be used against peaceful citizens.
These tricks no longer work. At Occupy Gezi, something has fundamentally changed. We have looked each other in the eye. We have recognized each other. We have come to understand two simple things. Without adjectives, without distinctions, we are the people. And as such, we have the power.
[Spanish translation here]
Istanbul, June 27
One of my primary objectives when I arrived at Gezi Park almost three weeks ago, was to leave a map of this place, for the historical record. The reason is obvious. Temporary Autonomous Zones are highly evanescent. You have to catch them straight away.
I started my geographical explorations the day after my arrival. Almost a week later, just before the final attack began, I had only just finished mapping the last neighbourhood of downtown. If I had had more time, I could have done a better job, but the amount of data I collected was enough to create a ‘Historical Atlas of Gezi Park’, which I here proudly present to you.
The Atlas consists of six maps.
One is a general overview of the ‘administrative’ subdivisions of the park.
Two is a detailed road map of Gezi Republic with residential zones and infrastructure.
Three is an approximate indication of the various neighbourhoods by their social or political nature.
Four is a map of the greater Gezi Commune with surroundings, suburbs and barricades.
Five is a map of ‘Gezi Empire’, the complete territory in central Istanbul which was conquered by the people in the battles that raged from May 31 to June 3.
Six is a Google map of all known Popular Forums in Istanbul that sprouted up after the eviction of the park.
For a better understanding of the nature of Gezi Park, I will give some background on the maps.
Maps one and two
The germ of Gezi Republic, the place where it all began, was at the tip of downtown, in the Gezi Garden (6). This is where a few dozen people from Taksim Solidarity gathered on May 28 to defend the park against destruction. They put up tents. They organized cultural events. They read books in front of riot police.
For three nights in a row, they got peppersprayed and brutally evicted. Their tents were set on fire and the park was fenced off by police. In response to this, the people of Istanbul rose up.
Starting on May 31, a crowd of 100.000+ people marched on Taksim Square from all sides. It was the beginning of a four day battle. On June 1, police retreated from the square. Gezi Park was liberated, and colonization began.
The park is divided into three.
Uptown is made up of the main platform facing Taksim square. It housed almost exclusively political stands and a Kurdish corner.
Midtown features a central rectangle, like a bath tub, flanked by an elevated East and West side. The Central Park was a mix of residential zones and socio-political stands. It’s characterised by the big square with the Fountain (10) and the children’s Castle (9).
The East Side is mainly residential. As a livestreaming collective, we had our base camp on the Upper East Side, at the intersection of Tenth Avenue and Second Street (14). For me personally, my secondary base was the International Corner, which I co-founded on Fourth Street (15). This area, the Lower East Side, was the core of the park, both logistically and politically. It housed the Commons, the Infirmary, the Kitchen, the Çapulçu Cafe and the Radio (1,2,3,4,12). It was also home to the Stage (11), which was controlled by Taksim Solidarity (17).
The West side was dominated by the fixed structured of what used to be a cafe, and what was turned into the Television studio of Çapulçu TV once it was occupied (13). Behind it, there was a natural border in the form a Grand Canyon leading down to the reconstruction site of Taksim square. Compared to the rest of the park, the far West Side was made up of slums.
At the border between the central square and downtown, a Memorial had been erected in honour of those who died (16). It consisted of the text ‘Taksim to the People’, dotted with candles that were lit every evening at nightfall.
Downtown differs from the rest of Gezi Park because of the organic layout of the streets as opposed to the rational Roman/American style city grid in Midtown. The heart of Downtown was entirely taken up by the central Warehouse (5), which collected and distributed all necessary medical, food and other supplies that were donated by the people of Istanbul and the rest of the world. Main features of Downtown, aside from the Victory garden, were the Library (7), built in the form of a fortress, and the Mosque (8), made from two party tents. At the exit of the park behind the Library there was also a subway station.
Much more difficult than plotting the basic structures of the park, is plotting the nature of the neighbourhoods. This has everything to do with the complicated divisions and subdivisions of the Turkish left. My brother Naber tried to explain to me which are the major and minor parties and how they relate to each other, but it’s a mess. You don’t just have communists and socialists, you have marxists, leninists, maoists, stalinists, trotskyists etc. And that’s not even it. You have different sorts of trotskyists, different sorts of leninists, etc. etc. They used to hate each other more than anything else, but they were all together represented at Gezi Park. There’s no point in trying to classify them all. I don’t understand. You wouldn’t understand. And besides, they are all ‘oldthink’. The miracle of Gezi Park was exactly that it went beyond old differences to create a new paradigm.
The communists and the socialists were concentrated mostly in the Central Park, in Uptown and on the Lower West Side. Still, the majority of left wing political stands were located in Taksim Square, until the battle of June 11. The importance of Taksim for the Turkish left wing is enormous, especially since the Taksim Square Massacre on May Day 1977, when snipers opened fire on the crowd from the surrounding buildings and around forty people were killed. Now, during the Gezi Commune, the surrounding buildings were plastered with revolutionary slogans and images of partisan leaders, whose life and memory has always been persecuted by the government.
Even more significant than the presence of the left wing in Gezi Park was the presence of the nationalists. They participated in wide scale resistance against the government for the first time, because they see Erdogan as a danger for the secular Turkish state founded by their iconic hero Mustafa Kemal, ‘Atatürk’. Images of Atatürk, and the Turkish flag, are a fundamental characteristic of the uprising.
There was nationalist presence everywhere in the park. It was curious to see them next to the Mosque in downtown. They also had a small presence in the slums of the Upper West Side, right next to the Kurds. In the final days of Gezi, they colonised the Upper East Side along First Street.
The presence of the (anticapitalist) Muslims in Gezi Park was important to debunk claims by the government that the people in Gezi were no more than a bunch of drunken hooligan terrorists who like to organise bacchanalia in the country’s mosques without taking their shoes off. The Muslims had their political base on the platform in Uptown and their religious base around the Mosque in Downtown.
The Kurds came to Gezi only after their leader Öcalan exhorted them to do so, and then still, they stayed in a corner. For the first time ever they could raise images of their leader without all hell breaking loose. Not everyone in the park was happy with their presence, but nobody made a fuzz about it.
Ecologists, gays and other special interest groups had their main basis in upper Central Park.
Another miracle of Gezi – most astounding for some – was the fact that it brought supporters from the three rival football teams of Istanbul together. Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş. They stood as one against police. They stood as one at the barricades. A few weeks earlier, they would have passionately fought each other, and now you could buy t-shirts of ‘Istanbul United’ in the park, with the logos of all three teams.
Finally, the anarchists. They had a strong presence in Downtown, near Gezi gardens, and on the platform in Uptown. But on a subconscious level they embodied the spirit of the park as a whole, for two reasons. One, occupation itself is an anarchist practice, even if it isn’t pronounced. Gezi Park, the Gezi Commune was an anarchist experiment. And two, anarchism is the only political theory that isn’t hopelessly outdated. The communists and the socialists at Gezi Park represented the past. The nationalists and the Muslims represented the present. The anarchists represented the future.
Maps four and five
The Gezi Republic and Taksim Square were only a small part of the greater Gezi Empire, more commonly known as the ‘Gezi Commune’. The entire area under popular control from June 3 to June 11 went from the end of Istiklal street down to the Beşiktaş stadium and up to the panoramic terrace of the Hilton Hotel.
To picture this, bear in mind the geographical configuration of central Istanbul. Taksim Square is on a hill. And Gezi park is like a fortress on a hill. After the people conquered the square on June 1, clashes with police continued for two more days on the roads leading down to the waterfront. These clashes were spearheaded by Çarşı, the anarchist hard core of the Beşiktaş fans, aided by Kurds and transsexuals.
On June 3, police forces were beaten back to the prime minister’s weekend office in the Dolmabahçe palace on the shore of the Bosphorus. The insurgents conquered one bulldozer, two water cannons and three police buses (which they burned and used as barricades), plus countless shields, gear, gas masks and police cars. In the evening of June 3, the Gezi Commune was a fact.
At its height, the Commune encompassed, at the very least, one university (with two campuses), one high school, two hospitals, one cultural centre, one library, one convention centre, two mosques (not including the one in Gezi Park), two churches, seven consolates (upgraded to full scale embassies for the occasion) and eight luxury hotels.
Suburbs of Gezi park (in light green), with tents or stands, were located in Taksim Square to the south, in the park between the Divan and Hyatt hotels in the north, next to the Technical University in the northeast, and on the hill opposite the Beşiktaş stadium in the east.
The defense of the Gezi Commune depended on the barricades. Three of these were made up of burned police buses. One on the East side of the park, one next to the Intercontinental, where the mobile toilets were placed, and one between the Technical University and the Hyatt hotel.
By far the most barricades, twenty-three lines in total between main and supply barricades, were located on the roads leading down to the sea, where the battle had taken place. Aside from those, all exits to Taksim had been barred, except for Istiklal street. It was a fundamental weak spot in the defense of the Commune, but it was necessary to have a life line through which ambulances, garbage trucks and supply vehicles could enter. To this effect, the barricades on the northeast side could be opened, so that the wounded from the infirmary could be quickly evacuated.
The barricades were manned twenty four hour a day, mostly by anarchist football fans, but also by communists and nationalists. The easternmost suburb of Gezi, opposite the Beşiktaş stadium, was home to dozens of people who acted as an early warning system in case of a police attack from Dolmabahçe palace.
To illustrate how life went on as normal, even in the complete absence of authorities, I will refer a little anecdote as it was told to me by my brother Naber.
One day during the Commune, a distinguished guest of the Intercontinental Hotel had to rush urgently to the airport. Unfortunately for him, the entire Gezi Empire was a traffic free zone because of the barricades. No taxi cabs could arrive at the hotel. The employees of the Intercontinental kindly asked the anarchists on guard to open the barricade so that their guest could leave.
The anarchists refused. In response, the direction of the hotel proposed a deal. “If you open the barricade, we will help you put it back into place afterwards.”
Generally, anarchists are not unreasonable people. They accepted. The barricade was opened. The cab pulled up. The distinguished guest rushed off, and the employees of the Intercontinental Hotel helped to rebuild the barricade on their doorstep.
The Gezi Empire came to an end when police invaded through Istiklal Street on June 11. Another of the luxury hotels, the Divan, aided the protesters by opening their doors to the wounded. For four more days, the people held the park, until the final invasion on Saturday evening, June 15.
In the days that followed, the entire centre of Istanbul was shrouded in tear gas again, and authorities began making mass arrests of the people who had led the resistance two weeks earlier. On June 17, when twenty-two people of Çarşı collective had been arrested in their houses, a small group of citizens came together in the stone theater of Abbasağa park in Beşiktaş to discuss about what to do next.
The day after, their numbers had swollen enough to fill the theater. The day after that, the whole park was cramped with people, and other popular forums were being organized in parks all over Istanbul.
Within a week, Gezi Park was everywhere. I put together all the fifty odd known forums into a Google map, based on the information available on June 25. And this is only the beginning. Just now, a spontaneous assembly popped up on our doorstep…
[Spanish translation here]
Istanbul, June 25
It’s pride week in Istanbul, and this time the term pride has a double meaning. On the one hand, the LGBT folk are proud to be queer, and on the other hand, after their heroic stand against police, the rest of us are proud to have them among us. Last Monday, the week kicked off with a good vibe and a swinging march through Istiklal Street. It was only a rehearsal. The big parade will be next Sunday.
Yesterday, indignation spread through Turkey as the man who killed Ethem Sarısülük with a real bullet was released, pending trial. The judge only needed a week to establish that the police officer in question acted within the ‘limits of self defense’.
It’s a dangerous precedent, because if the killer goes unpunished it may pave the way for a police officer’s ‘license to kill’. But it’s just as dangerous if you look at it from the other side. If a cop can fire at an unarmed protester and get away with it, then what should a protester be allowed to do to protect himself from police?
“The water cannon tried to spray me, your honour. It was only in self defense that I blew it up with a bazooka.” Or: “They were firing tear gas at us, your honour. So it was perfectly legitimate for us to shell them with mortars.”
These things are not going to work. Police can have good reasons to disperse a crowd, and a crowd can have better reasons to disperse police. Both sides can employ a series of escalating measures to achieve this objective. But there’s no point in killing each other. That’s not fair.
If you do, you have to respond for it. As a protester, and as a police officer. But there is a difference. A protester is a free agent, whereas a cop acts on orders. This means that in the interest of discipline a commanding officer should bear responsibility for the behaviour of his troops. If one of them acts with disproportionate force, then the commanding officer will have to be punished to the same extent as his subordinate. You kill someone, you go to jail. And your commander with you. This could go all the way to the top. If the prime minister willfully orders a violent crackdown, he will have to be held accountable for all ensuing damage inflicted upon his own citizens.
After the decision to release the officer was announced, the local popular assemblies immediately organised a series of demonstrations. We went to stream the one in Kadıköy, where thousands of people marched from their home base in Yoğurtçu Park to the centre of the district and back.
It was good, it was loud, and the whole district played its part. Those who didn’t march and chant, banged their pots and pans from the windows. Those who were sitting in the bars applauded as we paraded by. The cars honked, the drivers raised their fingers in sign of V for victory.
“Kadıköy don’t sleep! Come down and take freedom into your own hands!” people chanted. And much more. “Rebellion! Revolution! Freedom!” To police: “Take off your gear and we will see who is the strongest!” And, one of my favourites: “A thousand greetings to Madrid, Athens, Tahrir and Brazil!”
Upon return to the park, people gathered in general assembly. The whole place is under permanent community occupation. There were two free bars – franchises of the original ‘Çalpulçu Cafe from Gezi Park – one library, a supply centre, an exposition and an art corner. After the GA, the Coordination group of about a hundred people met on the playground to discuss the demonstration and future events. Today, again, there will be protest marches in all of Turkey.
Napoleon reportedly said that if the world were one single state, Constantinople, the city of two continents, would be its capital. In these days, it truly feels that we are the centre. All around us, the world is rising up. From the Far East to the New World. Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Bulgaria, Brazil, Paraguay. The first wave of revolt in 2011 was mainly limited to the western world. Now the movement is expanding into a #GlobalRevolution.
So be prepared. Soon, this show will come your way. It’s the biggest show you’ve ever seen. And you yourself are going to be the star! You’re going to love it, I can tell you. There’s nothing like revolution.
Istanbul, June 23
It has been an extraordinary week of revolutionary assemblies in all parts of the city. But I have to admit, I kind of missed the tear gas.
Yesterday at last we were bound to have some. Taksim Solidarity made a call for people to come to the square with flowers, and make a statement as standing men and women.
Measured by attendance, the gathering was a success. The square was full. Aside from that, it was dull. There was no point to it all, and no real emotion. More than the flowers, you noticed the flags. They were all the same prefab banners carrying the text ‘Taksim Solidarity.’
As my brother Naber pointed out, the umbrella organization that launched the protest is desperately trying to consolidate its power and conserve a central position in the movement. In the last week, they were overtaken by the people on all fronts. The neighbourhood assemblies are not linked to Taksim Solidarity, or to any other party or organization for that matter. It’s a giant leap compared to the politics of the occupation in Gezi. Those who came to the park with banners, left those banners at home when they came to the assemblies.
For an overview of the square, we occupy the Burger King balcony. After little less than an hour of chanting and jumping, the people start to disperse. There was no need for police to lend them a hand, but for some reason they did.
Gezi Park is under permanent occupation of police these days. A first batallion descends the steps in full riot gear. Three water cannons move into position, and without any provocation start spraying the crowd. People are washed away into the side streets, police go after them to speed them up. But a crowd itself is like water. Within minutes, people return to Taksim, and police rushes back after them to club them out again. They come back, and it starts again, with the water cannons. From a tactical point of view there seemed to be no thought behind the action, other than the desire to piss people off. And police officers as well. One of the water cannons accidentally sprayed a platoon of cops in the middle of the mess.
The tensions rise. At the entrance to Istiklal Street, police make a phalanx to defend themselves from incoming stones and bottles. Soon after that, they start shooting tear gas. Now the real fun starts. We put on our masks and descend into the square to stream the action from the ground.
Police push people further into Istiklal, the big shopping street. We are behind them, at a hundred meters. It’s a weird scene. Underneath the happy Christmas-like lights, there are piles of rubbish still burning. The shops are closed. The mosque starts wailing that Allah is great while police keep firing tear gas to clear the street.
We take one of the sidestreets to reunite with the resistance, and there the scene is no less weird. In between the cafeterias, bars and nightclubs and their loud electronic music there is a mixed crowd. Some of the girls are dressed to go out. Some of the girls are dressed to riot. Some of the girls are not really girls.
Every now and then, the group goes back up to Istiklal street, and a crowd forms. They sing and dance and chant, they try to advance to Taksim. Then police throw tear gas, or a water cannons comes along to clean them out and spray the sidestreets. Then we regroup, and return. Time after time.
At the third time, Istiklal street is ours. Police are trying to contain resistance elsewhere. So we build a barricade. It’s an act power, an act of beauty.
Now, let me give you a few hints on building barricades, based on the experiences of last night and last week. It will definitely come in handy sooner or later. First, you need material. Use metal containers and concrete flower beds as a spine. Make sure you have a building site at hand. You tear down the scaffolding. It’s deconstruction at its purest. You raise tables of pressed wood, you reinforce them with bags of cement using a human chain. Finally you take down the metal bars of the scaffolding for additional strength. Throw in everything else that isn’t nailed down and wrap it up with a net. For more permanent barricades, open up the pavement with picks and stack bricks and stones. You may want to use cement to glue it all together.
In less than half an hour the construction yard was turned into a full scale barricade, topped off with a Turkish flag. All around it, people were singing and celebrating.
It was the highlight of the evening. After midnight, police attacked again with overwhelming force and exuberant use of tear gas. First thing to do is stay calm, stay to the side. Run only if you have to. To relieve the pressure of the gas, you could pick up the smoking cannisters and throw them back to the police. Make sure you have a good mask, and use a glove. Tear gas cannisters are hot.
The resistance settled down after the barricade was broken. People hide in shops and bars as police platoons comb the streets. We decide to go back to our cove. We did our thing for tonight. Tomorrow it’ll be back to the business of building revolution in public spaces, not necessarily here, because the chants have come true. Everywhere is Taksim.
[Spanish translation here]
Istanbul, June 22, 0200 hrs
When you get off the boat in Besiktas and you take a walk through the neighbourhood, you won’t have difficulty to recognise where the clashes took place. Along some of the roads, the sidewalks have completely disappeared.
To turn a sidewalk into a barricade, you start with the small posts and a lot of people to yank them out of place. Once you have taken them out, you can easily gather the stones, and through a human chain you can transport them to the main barricade, or to the supply barricade. Or you can smash them up for ammunition.
There are many useful things to know about the practice of urban resistance. At Abbasaga Park, yesterday, people employed a gazebo as a small Resistance Museum with photos from the last few weeks. Sling shots, catapults, molotovs. Riot police in waves of fire, fleeing like chickens. Protesters with gas masks defiant amidst blasts of chemical water. Burning TOMA’s and more along those lines.
We meet a school teacher in the museum. She’s happy to talk to us, and is she is so proud that people didn’t bow their head in the face of police this time. Most of all she is proud of the transsexuals. Together with the anarchists, the Kurds and the football fans, they were in the first line of the clashes, like the Sacred Band of Thebes. They opened their houses and their coves to treat the wounded.
“I’m a secular and open minded person,” our friend says, “but me as I well, I was prejudiced against them. I never really considered them to be like the rest of us.” Now she does. In the first week of the Turkish uprising the queer scene of Istanbul has earned everybody’s respect with their bravery. Next week they will organize a gay pride march, and all the people of Gezi will be there to back them up.
Two nights in a row we went to Abbasaga Park. The place has changed a lot since we went there for the first time last Monday. Besiktas has become the Mother of All Assemblies.
The stone theater is much too small to house all the people. It has become the centre of a galaxy. Around the big assembly, smaller assemblies are forming, and all around there are groups of people sitting in the green to discuss the future. It’s moving at an incredible pace. Today, an impressive list of working groups was formed in Besiktas. Legal, Health, Communication, Education, Arts & Culture, Labour and Unemployment, Business, Logistics, Youth and Students, Women, Shopowners, Architecture and Engineering, Animal Rights, Agriculture and Ecology.
In Kadıköy, the working groups are more centered on artistic and spiritual matters. Every night, and during the day, the parks of Istanbul are abuzz with activity.
It’s hard to underestimate the significance of it all. We are witnessing the birth of Occupation 2.0: ‘Community Occupation’.
The common form of occupation which has been tried in Sol, Syntagma, Zuccotti and Gezi had a fundamental flaw, because it was practically unsustainable. After a few weeks the occupations start to degenerate, and after a few months – if they live that long – they turn into a mess. The reason is because they are a physical living space for many people, which causes increasing logistic and social problems over time.
A Community Occupation aims to be a meeting and working space made up of semi-permanent structures, with a limited amount of people actually manning the site around the clock. If it is well organized, it can be turned into a permanent autonomous zone. What it comes down to, in practice, is the transfer of legitimate authority from the government to the citizens themselves.
Yesterday, the General Assembly of Besiktas, issued a list of principles. It’s nothing official, it’s just an attempt to put the spirit of Gezi Park into words.
Slightly paraphrased, this is it.
1. We refuse all discrimination and humiliation among humans and other living beings.
2. We are a peaceful community. We will not provoke violence, but we reserve the right to legitimate self defense.
3. There is no other thing than freedom that inspires us. We have no other interest beside social justice. We are guided only by what we hold to be true. There is no organization that represents us.
4. In our movement there will be no leaders, no hierarchy and no titles.
5. Everyone who participates in our working groups will be personally accountable towards the community.
6. We stand together with everyone who resists, anywhere in the world. Our biggest aim is to raise solidarity by uniting around commons aims, and to continue our struggle.
Istanbul, June 21.
Changing times call for a changing style. Last night, long overdue, I gave my blog a makeover. The name and the url have been updated. This is not about the Spanish Revolution any more, and 2011 is long gone. This about the PostVirtual. A return to reality, maybe. Or something else which we cannot even imagine.
The new interface will give you a much better access to the heap of content I have created in the past two years. On the right side you will find archives of time and space, dating back to the glorious days of Acampada Sol. On top, you will find pages with featured content and links, which I will be regularly updating.
For those of you reluctant to change, don’t worry. The original site will stay online. I will keep reblogging my posts there. But as from today the new flagship is PostVirtual. Tell your friends. Comments are welcome.
The articles you will find in the archives are the original ones. Mind that the whole narrative of the first year has been edited and collected in ebook form with possibility of print-on-demand. The book is the version of reference. It may be shared under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. With your support, new and better versions will be forthcoming.
So this is it, enjoy. I will do my best to continue bringing you the exciting story of a changing world.
[Spanish translation here]
Istanbul, June 20. 1657 hrs.
Kadıköy district of Istanbul is like a big city in itself. It has over half a million inhabitants. The whole of Istanbul, spread out over Europe and Asia, is made up of dozens of districts like these. For a total of around 15 million inhabitants. The size of the Netherlands, more or less. One of the biggest agglomerations of the old world, and the new.
Yesterday there were 35 confirmed assemblies all over Istanbul. More than one in some of the districts. At Kadıköy it was even bigger than the day before. Three thousand people or more came together in Yoğurtçu Parkı. It was a big improvement compared to the day before. The assembly lost some of its spontaneous beauty, but it gained a lot of organization. A stage and amplification. Lights and cameras.
All the people and the buzz of collective emotion throughout the park made it feel like the greatest assemblies we ever held in Puerta del Sol. Citizens united who descended into their public places to feel the wind of change and the sense of history.
As for the topics, it´s all very general. Politically, there is a spirit of direct democracy. Economically, many people propose to boycott banks, multinationals and shopping malls. Socially, we acknowledge the importance of inclusivity, respect for women, for religious and ethnic minorities, for gays and lesbians.
We are all one.
But as far as Erdogan is concerned, we are all terrorists, looters, foreign agents, alcoholics and marginals. He even says we don´t take our shoes off when we go to mosque.
These lies go around on most televisions, day after day. On the Internet it´s even worse. They say the government accused us of building a nuclear bomb in Gezi Park. Supposedly, forensics have uncovered an underground laboratory, complete with a gas centrifuge for the enrichment of uranium.
Maybe this is also the reason why police evicted the encampment in Izmir this morning. You don´t want hippies building A-Bombs on your doorstep. Indeed, after the invasion, the tv mentioned that certain incendiary devices and other weapons had been uncovered between the rests of the camp.
They arrived at six in the morning in overwhelming force, backed up by a water cannon. The camp was surrounded. Police ordered people to leave. They refused. So the authorities closed the circle and crushed the camp. Over a hundred people were arrested.
At the moment, we wait for the sun to go down and for people to gather in their parks, here and elsewhere in the country. We found refuge in an anarchist cafe on the European side. In the absence of a permanent occupation there´s no better place to plot revolution…