WE ARE WINNING
Assessment of actions in Taksim Square/Gezi Park, Istanbul, Turkey.
Article by Revolutionist Anarchist Action / Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet (DAF) in Meydan Newspaper. 12th June 2013
This is a revolt
This is a revolt
Urban Transformation Projects have long been threatening living spaces of Istanbul residents. First slum demolitions, and then 63 million square meters of forests to be pillaged for the third bridge, shopping malls built one after another, luxury hotels, and while the pedestrianization project continued, next was Gezi Park. Istanbul residents continued to resist all of these projects that threatened life. Until excavators came to Gezi Park and uprooted the trees. Until "a handful of marginals" that claimed the trees and their shadows and said "Do not uproot trees, do not build a shopping mall to Gezi Park". This demonstration was introduced as a "ecological and peaceful" action. Until the police did a early morning operation and smothered the park area with gas. The state must have "a lot" to profit since it's trying to bring this peaceful protest down as hard as it can. Police violence had been climbing up in the last few months and protesters were unexpectedly exposed to it. Deputies of opposition parties and artists came to Gezi Park to protest this and to support protesters, but they also had their share of state terror.
In the first day of demolition, state could not get what he wanted because of this scene. Protesters stayed in Gezi Park for the night. It's unknown if they were expecting an attack the next morning, but all protesters were thrown out of the park with the police raid in the morning. The police burned protesters' tents, blankets and belongings. The videos of protesters exposed to continuous gas bombs and violently taken in custody invoked rage in everyone who watched.
Of course this rage was not the rage for a single demonstration. This rage was accumulated. Accumulated for increasing police violence.
It was the attacks with gas bombs, batons and arms that created this rage. It was forbidden May 1st, Dilan, Şerzan, Metin Lokumcu, Aydin Erdem... What created this rage was more than two days. It was increasing oppression, restrictions, censorship, economic exploitation... What created this rage was the state exercising its power on the people recklessly, relentlessly and without questioning legitimacy.
The ones who ascribe the "People's Revolt" as post modern style of action, must see this clearly. The people spontaneously came to the streets because they felt the social, political and economic oppression heavily. The events are neither a deal in the last few days as the blind-deaf mainstream media says, nor are affected by "marginal" groups as the one in state power says.
It is time to raise the curtain before the eyes. This is a revolt. It is the reaction of people against state terrorism, police violence and capitalist exploitation. This is the end of legitimacy of the new state power that had gained the love of other states, international institutions and global corporations.
The Democracy of Marginalization, Othering and Neglect
It's very important that the revolt is happening at a time when the propaganda of state power is "Democratic Turkey". By this reaction to state terrorism, the people have pulled down the "democratic" respectability of the state.
People were on the streets in a setting where the freedom of the people were ignored, people were tortured and killed arbitrarily, all of the mainstream media turned into official state press, the state is preparing for war nearby and killing its own people with its own hands while doing it.
The revolt spread to other cities in the second day. The shared rage against state terrorism started to burn streets everywhere. The public were on the streets not because of main opposition party or some leaders words, but with own volition. To respond to all of this by standing against police violence and state terrorism. With this consciousness, they attacked the police, state buildings and temples of capitalist exploitation. The ones that did it were not "marginal groups". This was also a revolt against the othering behaviour of the state against the ones that did not obey its power, against "marginalizing politics" of the state. Moreover the government did not have anybody to settle or deal with. This revolt was a direct action.
The state neglected the revolt from the beginning. It was banned on television, the papers and other media. It was not only on Taksim. People flowed from Besiktas, Harbiye and other places of Istanbul/ The state had closed Gezi Park and Taksim Square with all law-enforcement officers in hand. The clashes continued all day. The public got more angry on each gas bomb, on each sound bomb and each custody. They resisted the police violence with determination. Nearly a million people that filled Taksim did not step back. To say we are here against the state's neglect.
In the morning of the second day, the police violence was even more intense and we had news of deaths and wounded people. The state terrorized without caring about either legitimacy, nor human rights, nor democracy. In a two day revolt, the state throwed away all the masks of ideals and values that it had been hiding behind. The state showed its real face to its people. The monopoly of violence terrorized not just in Istanbul, but in every place that had actions of solidarity with Istanbul. News of deaths, news of wounds and custodies increased.
Whole forty hours... After nearly forty hours of clashes the people got from Istiklal street to Taksim Square. The law enforcement officers escaped with all vehicles. Forty hours became forty years, the square became the world for us. The was the freedom of revolt. Our sorrow was our friends that were wounded and lost their lives.
Then Gezi Park, then Gumussuyu, then Besiktas... Then Sakarya, Kocaeli, Ankara, İzmir, Adana, Dersim... In this revolt that is still going on, the most important motivation that kept the spontaneity was sharing and solidarity. Voluntary health workers formed civil health centers for the protesters that were affected by the police violence. Organisations like law associations, bar, Human Rights Association supported protesters in custody or in similar conditions. Chambers like Turkish Mechanical Engineers Chamber Association turned their buildings to hospitals. People opened their homes, workplaces, gave support with food and drinks. People gave information to each other over social media, people created their own means despite of silenced media.
Everywhere and everyone became the revolt against state terrorism and police violence. Social solidarity have worked when the state left the lives alone and it is continuing to work.
Reservations of Revolt
The media that became "mute" at the beginning of revolt, now tries to give a meaning to the the revolt. Of course the meaning that their boss wants. They said it is individualist, it is reckless, it is post modern, it is urban and secular... They have affirmed the people that streamed the streets with these concepts. They likened it to the Velvet Revolution in Prague. They are trying to void a revolt against state terrorism, police violence and capitalist exploitation.
The sectors that were disturbed by the party in power and its government because of conflicting economic and political interests (many of which are upper and upper-middle class) started to go out on streets on the next days. These sectors that were supporters of the previous rulers of state were emphasizing anti-government protests rather than state terror and police violence. Care must be taken to avoid strong reformist demands of this sector to block this new struggle of the oppressed against state terrorism, police violence abd capitalist exploitation. These sectors may try to manipulate the struggle towards their own economic and political interests.
Parties in opposition may try to exit the scene with profit, as with all "springs". Their call for staying away from "marginal groups" while assessing the revolt, is the most clear evidence that they are talking with the language of power. As in revolts in other places, these parties that try to gain power using this revolt will try to stop the people who revolted spontaneously, without leaders and without parties.
Since these sectors are not the organizers of the movement, they cannot impose their social-economic characters to the public. So, they cannot direct the action. Besides, their insistent phrase "marginal groups" consists of the individuals that annoy them, but are also the real mobilizers of the revolt. Moreover, they are consciously blind to the fact that other oppressed people from different sectors are resisting not only in centers like Taksim and Besiktas but also in "surrounding" areas. Yes, the revolt has an ideology| but it is not an ideology that the media, parties in opposition and various economic focus groups try to homogenize and depoliticise. The ideology of the revolt is the consciousness of the individual that feels the increasing state terror and the individual action to struggle against it.
This revolt started against state terror, police violence and capitalist exploitation as we emphasized from the beginning. We hope that it will increase with general strikes and have more of the oppressed on the streets and with this hope we are growing the revolt. Our reservations against the revolt may be realized moving forward, the revolt may be diminished into a power struggle of opposing parties. But we are not oracles. Revolutionaries do not make hopeless predictions of the future and sit on the corner. We well know that revolts like this are mobilizing moments on the way to social revolution. Our anarchist struggle will continue to embrace the revolt with all passion.
Report from Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet DAF - Revolutionist Anarchist Action (DAF):
Taksim Revolution/4 June
WE ARE WINNING!
We have seen the beach beneath the stonesi we have carried the black flag of the revolt!
On İstiklal Street, around French Consolate, 200 meters far from police, holding the stones of the beach in one hand and the flag of the revolt in the other you are clshing with the police. A piece of cloth wet with talcid is your gas mask, police is spraying pressured water, throwing gas bombs one and after, you are left in the middle of gas retreating throwing stones you are out of breath smothered, breatheless at that moment somebody run near you, spray water with antiacid on your face, asking “how are you, are you okay?” You are not okay but immediately you get well. You take a stone of the beach in one hand, taking the flag of the revolt in the other. You lean against the barricade with your half breath. Your breath is refreshing with the freedom of rebellion. Because everywhere there is solidarity, this revolt is adorned with solidarity, you fall but you are picked up, they are asking when you are hitching, you boo at the same time when the sound bomb exploded, you hold your breath together when gas bomb comes. When the blocade fades out you sing together and shout out your rebellion. Never ending pressure water, gas and resistance. You got tired sit on a pavement to take a breathe one coming with water in her hand and gives you water another one brings a sandwich. You are not either thirsty or hungry because everywhere the people share, there is no “mine” or “ours” here. Everyone is together. There is no slackness, if you were to fall the one next you would not. There is no crestfallenness, if you were to fall your comrade would not. You are getting rid of the fear which the system has created through the years and courage is to do what you are scared of. And you experience this. You are leaning against the police and you move forward as you lean. The police is doing everything they can to stop you. Even though you slow down sometimes the sound of the other clashes are whispering in your ear: “we are moving forward”. You are getting excited and you lean again and again. On the final strike you see that the police is retreating, no you see they escape maybe you are living what you have been expecting for a long time. You meet with others on Taksim Square, you are glad to see your loved ones. After hugging each other for a while you start building barricades. Without losing time. The ones with you start to croon a song from 1930’s, the song of spainsh Anarchists. You join in. “For bread, justice, freedom everyone to the barricades...” As the song gets louder the barricades are build; with upside down police cars, police buses, barriers of a “looted construction” Let them come, let them come and see the communion and solidarity is increasing. Everyone wants to move away from selfishness from competition. The tables ar opened the tents are erected. A people’s square is being created. There are a few insincere ones but you dont care. Because every moment from everywhere, from Ankara, from İzmir, Antalya, Dersim rebellion. From Athens, Thessaloniki, Paris, Sofia... The news of solidarity are coming. Solidarity is growing, one’s who share are increasing. The revolt is spreading because we are winning.
Now, a revollt is telling us about herself a revolt is telling us what we had forgotten. Telling us the importance of communion solidarity organisation and most important of all, freedom. Now the never ending cinder in our hands is glowing with a revolt. Now inside the rebellion we are looking into our shimmering eyes in other words to each other. We are holding each others hands which carry the stones of the beach, hold the flag of revolt, which were burned by the gas bombs. We are hugging each others bodies which are carrying our hearts full of revolution. And although we don’t say it aloud, we say thank you to each other with the happiness of sharing this moment. This is a temporary thank you without being content. Without being content we are waiting for tomorrow side by side from today.
Message via: Secretariat of IFA. http://i-f-a.org
Previous reports from DAF:
- June 1st, Massive Riot Against State Terrorism in Turkey
- June 2nd, The Last Situation About Clashes in Turkey
- June 3rd, Revolutionary Anarchists Call for International Solidarity
- Mayday Resistance in Istanbul
See also (commentary on various blogs/sites):
Fascists murder anti-fascist in Paris
On 5th June 2013 a gang of fascist skin-heads attacked the militant anti-fascist activist Clément Méric, a 18-year old student. Clément was ambushed outside a shop in which he had challenged the gang. They then got reinforcements and waited for him outside. During the attack, he was struck in the face by a knuckle-duster, and as he fell his head hit a metal post. He soon died from these injuries.
The attack took place in the context of far-right mobilisation against gay-marriage, which has recently been legalised in France, the first wedding taking place in Montpellier last week. This reform of French law has left the soft- and hard-right marginalised and put them in a mood to impose intolerance where they can. Homophobic attacks have risen three-fold; anarchists have mobilised against this; fascists and antifascists have clashed.
The Anarchist Federation in France (FA) has issued the following statement:
‘Clement, 18, is dead, killed by fascists on June 5 near Saint-Lazare railway station in Paris. These words are enough to say how serious the situation is.
Fascism and fascists do not belong to the past, the threat is still there,
as they have shown us. Against them, we need to organize, stick together
in a block. We must show them that we will always be there to stand in
their way. That their ideas do not equal ours, that there is no debate to
We also need to strongly denounce the unwholesome and politicical
appropriations which have already been implemented by social democratic
organizations which are absent from the field of antifascist struggle.
We especially have the “UNEF” (Student union) and the “Left Party” who
have not waited and have organized separately a gathering in honor of our
comrade. Though absent by their acts, these people take ownership of the dead. We can already hear them appealing to Justice, the State, the Government
to prohibit the fascist organizations, but for how long have the
revolutionary groups and organizations been warning them?
Clement was an activist in the Paris-Suburbs Anti-Fascist Action, a
student member of “Solidaires” (a trade union organization), an
antifascist and a revolutionary.
The Anarchist Federation modestly address condolences to the family and
friends of Clement, and says it will join with all revolutionary,
progressive and honest forces to pay tribute to Clement and continue to
uphold his commitment, which is not dead with him’.
french-speaking Anarchist Federation (FAFr)
As with the murder of the soldier Lee Rigby here in Britain, the right has taken advantage of an emotive national story to push their way more forcefully into daily life. In France they feel brave enough to attack a lone antifascist, who was out shopping; here to fire bomb a Somali community centre (EDL – whether you did it or not – we hold you responsible).
The FA statement expresses the frustration of militant anti-fascists with the way in which the centre ground has cynically moved to take control of popular working-class outrage at the murder. President Hollande says "These violent people deserve the heaviest of punishments. These groups which have been creating disorder for too long must be suppressed." This misses the point. Fascism must be defeated from below. It is the collective political identity of the working class that will determine the future shape of society. State repression of the right can reduce the number of attacks by the right and make it harder for them to mobilise, but ultimately it fosters social dependence on the state. The right must ultimately be defeated by a working class united in solidarity on the streets.
See also: One of the many videos of large anti-facist demonstrations in France, in tribute to Clément - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F5pjdvs2ps
(other videos can be found by an internet search on 'Clement Meric manifestation' ).
Here is a report by the Anarchist Federation participants at the Balkan Anarchist Bookfair that took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia on 24-26 May 2013. See also, Joint statements made during the bookfair: http://www.afed.org.uk/blog/international/378-joint-statements-radio-and-video-from-the-balkan-anarchist-bookfair-24-26-may-2013.html
Celebrating ten years of the Balkan Anarchist Bookfair. Ljubljana 24th-26th May 2013
The Balkan Anarchist Bookfair, which has rotated between the countries of ex-Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Greece, took place this year in Ljubljana, Slovenia over three days - 24th-26th May. It has been interrupted three times over the last ten for political reasons in the region, and so this was actually the seventh. Previous bookfairs have been in Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria as well as Slovenia. Below is a report from the perspective of Anarchist Federation and Sparrows’ Nest participants.
The organisers were the Federation for Anarchist Organising (FAO), of Slovenia, who are a sister federation of the AF in the International of Anarchist Federations (IFA) and who Nottingham AF and Sparrows’ Nest people know very well. It took place in the radical quarter of the city known as Metelkova, where the FAO also run a great Infoshop. There were something like 20 stalls from organisations and distributors from the Balkans and well beyond.
The purpose of the Bookfair, aside from selling books and papers in Balkan languages and in English, is for anarchists to organise against nationalism. Anarchism in the Balkans has arisen as much out of the desire to create region-wide networks which can support the struggle against nationalist ideology by the various groups and federations within these artificially created borders. Balkan anarchists attending the bookfair were Macedonians (organisation: Black Bloc, which is very new and considering itself speculatively to be anarcho-syndicalist), Serbs (ASI-IWA and independents); Slovenia (FAO-IFA and independents), Croatia ( MASA-IWA and independents), Greece (Libertarian Communist Group of Athens – associated with IFA; and Eutopia, from Athens and Thessaloniki) and Bulgaria (FAB-IFA and independents). In addition, IFA federations of France (FA), Italy (FAI), German-speaking (FdA) and Britain (AF) attended. For the full list of countries from which participants came, see the reports produced by the workshops and General Assembly of the Bookfair.
Of course the current Economic Crisis makes it even more important that anti-nationalism is confronted now. Anarchists from counties affected by the warfare born out of the breakup of Yugoslavia are seriously concerned that the collapse/break up/withdrawal of the EU in the region will bring new wars, and so ‘internationalism’ is not some vaguely laudable intention, but absolutely essentially and immediate in their organising.
In Slovenia specifically, there was an uprising recently in Maribor and Ljubljana. It began in Maribor and was sparked by political corruption. Corporate property was destroyed and police attacked a huge demonstration, actually tear-gassing people including children from the air via helicopter! Far from being put down, the uprising spread as a result. This took place in April. From the bookfair, a demonstration was initiated in relation to the uprising and two hundred anarchists took part in an energetic march into the city centre. It has rarely been as easy to give out anarchist literature in the street and have it received enthusiastically. Chanting was in Slavonic languages, French, Spanish, Italian and English, and was against the state, police, capitalism, nationalism and for ‘Full Anarchism’. This has built on anarchist support for self-organised striking dock workers in the last couple of years. Anarchism has never had a higher or more positive profile in Slovenia.
The organising group had made great effort at an early stage to include other groups in making up the excellent programme of bookfair meetings which included workshops, discussions on specific themes and a couple of presentations using slides. Discussions were framed by well-planned introductions which were often based on documents read out in English and in some cases had multiple introductions that complemented each other. In many of the workshop facilitators would ask for a country-specific viewpoint from the participants. All of this made for structured but open debate and a high-quality sharing of experiences, based on practical examples placed in the context of different economic or political circumstances.
There were three workshops with a focus on patriarchy and anarcha-feminism. The first was women-only and took place in the lesbian space, Tiffany, and addressed ‘Sexism in our Movement’. It focussed on issues and solutions specific to political activism, and Safer Spaces was amongst the most tried and tested and valued of these. It was kicked off by some members of the Ljubljana Lesbian University who wanted to talk with an international audience. The same structure was run also the following day for a mixed audience, in part because some men requested it. In the event no men came, although we had set the chairs up on the veranda and established a very informal environment. One reason for this might have been that there was a tension between men who wanted to genuinely understand more about sexism from a women’s perspective, who seemed to be men who reflect on this issue anyway, and men who felt unhappy about a women-only space. They were a small minority however; I don’t need to tell you their objections, but some had genuinely not encountered this in anarchism before and were confused. This was a shame though because there was a stated need to address sexism in some antifa circles, as introduced by an Italian comrade. The low turnout from men might have been in part because the following session was on anarcha-feminism in the movement and they perhaps thought it would cover similar ground. It was initiated by the organisers and was kicked off by us. It took a historical perspective on the emergence of British anarcha-feminism in the Thatcher era and the fact that we face much the same sexism within and outside of our movement as we did then. Safer spaces and women-only spaces (real and virtual) were discussed. Safer spaces are the norm for many European bookfairs and it is likely that the lack of such a policy at some UK events will make some attendees feel less secure (as was the case at Saint-Imier until FdA initiated one). Women are very vocal in Balkan anarchism, and the Slovenian federation is about three-quarters women anyway, which makes it a refreshing group to work with for other women.
The other workshop in which the AF was involved was a presentation by the Sparrows’ Nest anarchist library in Nottingham, in which the AF is involved. It concerned the digital library project and was entitled ‘What is in @?’, referring to the completion of the scanning and uploading of the first alphabetical section of the Nest’s ‘public archive’. It was attended by about 10 fans of archives and historical materials relating to our movement.
There was a well-attended General Assembly each day which gave a forum for involvement in bookfair organisation, which as a result was much wider than the organising group. Reflections on the structure and processes as well as the political content were made, which over three days meant that the participants were part-running the event. The General Assembly was also used to initiate joint statements and the march through the city. The assemblies were well attended and had the function of providing the opportunity to gauge how everyone thought the event was going. An Infopoint (with rota list) and daily volunteer meetings were used effectively to involve bookfair participants in practical work such as cooking, cleaning and organising the book and meeting spaces. This all made for an atmosphere of explicit self-organisation.
Balkan anarchism is completely accessible to anyone with English. This is the language that anarchists from the various countries speak amongst themselves. Even though the languages of ex-Yugoslavia are closely related, most anarchists are under thirty and the nationalist education system that they were educated in has stressed the differences and they find it easiest and more inclusive to use the English that they learn at school. Most of the activists are fluent or near-fluent in English. This makes it easy for English-speakers to have discussions as in-depth and ideologically specific as we can in Britain.
It being a three-day event, most meetings were allocated two hours. As well as allowing for very in-depth discussions, these were serious, theoretical, ideological and highly constructive. Whist the groups identify with different traditions, they are avowedly anti-sectarian and identify differences between themselves mainly in order to learn from other traditions about matters such as how receptive industrial workers are to different modes of industrial organisation, which sorts of ideas and language make anarchism more accessible in social struggles, and so on.
Balkan anarchism is as open and friendly as it is dynamic and serious. The plan is to hold the next one in Bosnia or Athens. Why not watch this space and go along?
See also, Joint statements made during the bookfair: http://www.afed.org.uk/blog/international/378-joint-statements-radio-and-video-from-the-balkan-anarchist-bookfair-24-26-may-2013.html
The 10 year Balkan Anarchist Bookfair took place on May 24th-26th 2013 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Here are three statements created collectively during the bookfair, plus a great internationalist video:
1) We are their crisis – for a transnational struggle against capitalism and repression! (from general assembly of the bookfair on Saturday 25th May - includes video of an action in the city in the evening).
2) Joint Statement of the Balkan Meeting on Nationalism (from a discussion meeting on Saturday 25th May)
3) Building solidarity and resistance against capitalist devastation… (from the General assembly of the participants of the Balkan Anarchist Bookfair 2013 on 26th May).
Photograph of the internationalist action in Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg) over from the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje), Ljubljana city centre during the Balkan Anarchist Bookfair, 25th May 2013.
- AF bulletin Resistance #152: Divide and Rule
- For anti-nationalist internationalism! - the Balkan Anarchist Bookfair - May 24th-26th 2013, Ljubljana – Slovenia
- International Mayday 2013 reports and statements
- Resistance #151: The Green Shoots of Revolt
- Organise! magazine #80 - review of SolFed's Fighting for Ourselves booklet
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