In this video report filed from inside Taksim Square, independent journalist Brandon Jourdan brings us the voices of union members and others who have continued to join in the protest that began nine days ago and has continued despite police violence that has left thousands injured. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is set to return to the country today after being silent so far about the biggest anti-government rallies in decades.
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ÖMER MADRA: I’m Ömer Madra. I’m the editor-in-chief of Open Radio, Açik Radyo, Istanbul. And this is, I think, the ninth day of the, so to say, Gezi, Taksim-Gezi resistence. I was on the streets protesting in—starting in 1965, and I’ve never returned home, so to say. So, but this is the first time that I’m seeing all these different kinds of people, from all walks of life. People from all walks of life, all kinds of ideologies, are working together.
ELMAS DENİZ: My name is Elmas Deniz, and I’m living here in Istanbul. I’m an artist. And as an artist, it’s really awful. Like, I’m a very hopeful person now. I mean, a week before, I was thinking that maybe I should move. It’s really hopeless in this country, and there’s no way to live freely. And now I have more hope. I mean, it’s more or less like a community. And while you are coming here, you’re bringing some stuff that can be useful. And a lot of places, that is for free. And all these different political groups has their own places. And previously they’d been fighting among each other, and now, suddenly, they become all together, because they really understand that this is what they want. And what’s happening at the moment in the park is people are sharing. And, yeah, this is what they’re doing.
HÜSEYİN KARABEY: My name is Hüseyin Karabey. I am an independent filmmaker. Actually, this is my neighborhood, so this park is like my second office. You know, I come every day from green tea. But nowadays I come for another reason: just to be together with the protesters. They don’t really care about the people or habitat, you know? They don’t ask the people. And, unfortunately, one of—this park has the same kind of fate. They didn’t ask the owners of the park, the people of the Taksim [inaudible]. They decided to do something else. And they decided to cut the trees and build some stupid building. And it, I think, was the last moment. You know, everyone has some kind of a problem with the government decision in the last five years, so this park became a symbol for all kind of protest. People said, “Enough. OK, if opposition cannot represent me, I will represent myself.”
HASAN HÜSEYİN ŞEHRİBAN KARABULUT: [translated] My name is Hasan Hüseyin Şehriban Karabulut, and I am a feminist. I am Alawite. I am Kurdish, and I am gay. As LGBTT, we are here since the beginning, because we do not want the trees to be cut, because with the trees and the shadow of this trees, Gezi Park is a symbol for us. As LGBTT, we are one of the marginalized groups, and we want to show our presence. There are so many different groups. There are atheists, Kemalists, nationalists, leftists and right-wing people. With these groups, we are all together. We are still not having any trouble, and it is our ninth day.
ÖMER MADRA: The trade unions are joining in and doing a two-day, I believe, strike.
SEVGI İNCE: [translated] The strike today, June 5th, was actually decided upon beforehand. However, since last week, these protests started here in Gezi Park and other public places where people are protesting the policies of the AKP. We changed the strike dates to June 4th and 5th. Today we are here for this reason.
ÖMER MADRA: Today we have the third person who was killed and the more than 2,000 people who got injured, wounded and so on. But the number of attendees, the number of people who are taking part in this huge thing doesn’t get less at all. Nobody is afraid anymore, not from the police. I have seen this in the eyes. The fear is over, and it will never—it will never return.