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Noam Chomsky’s Call to the World about the Taksim Gezi Park Resistance

Transcript is from where it is available in 15 languages:

What is taking place on the streets of Istanbul and other Turkish cities today is first of all, an inspiring illustration of what the general population can do to combat repression, violence amongst far reaching plans to change the society so as to undermine the decent human survival in the interests of business and the corporate structures.

What is happening in Turkey is particularly significant because of Turkey’s major role in the region being the most important country in the region. Whatever happens in Turkey is going to have a very broad influence -already beginning to influence the East and the West.

It is part of a major uprising, internationally against the neoliberal assault on the global population that has been going on for a generation. It takes different forms in different places, but it is happening everywhere.

In the beginning of this millennium, Latin America -after many years of struggle- basically pulled out of Western -mostly US- domination and began to move in some independent direction.
Some countries refused to pay the improper debts that had been imposed. Others have sought other ways to extricate themselves from the neoliberal shackles that had impeded the growth and development, caused enormous difficulties for the population, in and throughout, North Africa.

The Arab Spring -now in a kind of a temporary period of waiting- began to follow the same course. Also, reacting strongly to the impact of the economic programs, imposed by the international financial institutions and Western powers generally, and to the local authorities, dictators implementing them. Right now in advance, we do not know where it will go.

Turkey is joining now other similar developments around Europe -very strongly in Greece, also in Spain- and here in the United States as well such as the popular uprisings in Wisconsin and Zucotti Park with the Occupy Movement.

The economic policies of the past generation that have been extremely beneficial to the tiny sectors of concentrated wealth have generally had a severe impact on populations worldwide.
In Turkey, the last few years have seen a very unfortunate regression. The 1990s were a complete horror story. But by the early years of this millennium there was a notable improvement; yet, there is now regression, Turkey now for example has more journalists in jail than any country in the world and other forms of repression are taking place.

The population is now rising up against it. These were the immediate causes in the effort to basically destroy the last open public space in the center of Istanbul, in the interests of a (historical) military installation, a mosque, commercialization, gentrification, and destroying the traditional character of the city and it has now spread to much broader issues.

For the international community, those who are concerned with human rights, justice, freedom, the welfare for the general population, this should be an occasion for an opportunity for support and solidarity.

And there are, fortunately, solidarity activities taking place all over but also an inspiration for their own struggles. These are all international struggles. There should be a lot of mutual support and interaction.

For the great powers who have been imposing these systems, it is slowly destroying Europe, it is having harmful effects in the United States, this should be a warning that they should put an end to these policies and return to paying attention to the needs and concerns of the general population, not just to a tiny sector of corporate power and concentrated wealth.

But the events in Turkey themselves are right now kind of a beacon of hope and of opportunity which deserve the strongest possible support. And one can only express admiration for the people on the frontlines and hope for their success in their just and very significant struggle.

Taksim everywhere, resistance everywhere! Noam Chomsky Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT


The UK’s socialist newspaper, the Morning Star, runs John Kinsella’s poem “Greetings” in its Well Versed column today.

Revolution Goes Viral


June 19 Istanbul, 1248 hrs

Dear people,

The manhunt continues. Yesterday somewhere between 90 and 400 people were arrested. As a result and as a precaution we abandoned our cove near Taksim Square and we are now in hiding.

The government obviously has no idea how to handle the uprising. They tried brutal repression. They brought out the National Guard, they are making massive arrests, they menace to bring in the army and declare martial law. All to no avail. The resistance is spreading like wildfire. After the eviction of Gezi Park, popular assemblies are popping up everywhere and multiplying by the day.

Yesterday, the Beşiktaş Assembly in Abbasaga park tripled its amount of participants. In total there were ten popular assemblies going on in Istanbul alone. There was at least one in Izmir that we know of. Most if not all of them are adopting the same hand signals…

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The Aesthetics of Resistance

by Burhan Sönmez

Originally published in Birgün, 13.06.2013.
Tranlated from Turkish by Duygu Tekgül for Solidarity Park Poetry.


The barricade built by protesters and named after Abdullah Cömert in Gümüşsuyu – 07.06.2013. Image by Duygu Tekgül.

  1. Stars shine better in utmost darkness. Stars are shining everywhere against the darkness of this country.
  2. Homeless teenagers living in the Taksim area have been asking how long the resistance is going to last, because apparently they’re treated to meals thanks to the communal life of the protesters there. The same government that makes a fuss over alcohol consumption within 100 metres of mosques has no qualms about people with empty stomachs within 100-metre radius of mosques.
  3. Historical events are etched in memories with their outstanding features. The life that took shape in Taksim in two weeks has sowed the seeds of Utopia in this country.
  4. Everyone is enjoying the camaraderie and freedom. No one is being patronizing and everybody is wearing their colours of life free of restraint. While the Anticapitalist Muslims perform their prayers, atheists keep watch around them. The Kurds dance their halay, Alevis whirl in their ritual dance, semah, Turks chant military marches. Socialists, LGBTs, fans of Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray teams roll up their sleeves together, have fun together and keep an eye on each other. Everyone’s freedom is guarded by everyone else.
  5. No one is in need, everyone is equal. People donate what “they don’t need” and everyone takes what “they need.” No money, no ownership, no hungry people.
  6. At Gezi Park, we’re experimenting with statelessness. Witnessing the happy and civil state of affairs in this enclave is a blessing.
  7. For the first time in our history, humour and joy have become the language of resistance. While dissident groups have always resisted through sheer force and to the death, now we express ourselves with the light and witty language that goes beyond sour words.
  8. The state may defeat hardliner rebels. But there are no tools available to the holders of political power to defeat humour and joy. That is why theirs is a hopeless case. They’re not fooling anyone.
  9. The Paris Commune lasted for seventy two days. With enthusiasm, we brought to life the same principles in two weeks. When the Commune was violently destroyed, liberals and bourgeois intellectuals were discussing the inconsistencies, weaknesses and faults of the Commune. Marx, in protest, pointed out the potentials for the future: ownership and exploitation were done away with and direct democracy was given a chance.
  10. Sheikh Bedreddin’s legacy for us is twofold. For one thing, he joined the popular uprising. Secondly, he believed in equality and sharing. Thomas More’s Utopia and Ibn Tufail’s Hayy ibn Yaqdhan inhabited the same dream world. And we’re living that dream as well.
  11. We’re pointing at a good example: Look, what we’re doing is good. But the government and its trumpeters prefer to see our pointing fingers instead and are desperate to badmouth us. They intend to undermine the movement by setting us against each other. We won’t give up: look at the direction where we’re pointing. You’ll see the trees and the sea there.
  12. We love the red of revolution; we strive to save the green. The same people who have written this message across walls have named a bus stop “Stop to Contemplate the Sky,” in a salute to dead poets.
  13. We’re grateful to these young people; they dashed in when things looked really grim and saved humanity on the precipice. Those who think them selfish and ignorant are mistaken. As the protesters named each of the eleven barricades set up in Gümüşsuyu, they spelt the name of Abdullah Cömert, who passed away last week, on one of them. And later, on the last barricade that overlooks the sea, they wrote, in a noble act, the name of the late revolutionary Deniz Gezmiş in giant letters.
  14. People are nothing on their own, but they mean everything when they band together. If we don’t get what we want, the interest lobby is going to turn our city – and our life – into a desert. For them, history is merely “pottery” or it is good for nothing but revenue; they worship money and nothing else.
  15. They want us to dry up without trees and water like those innocents in Karbala. We know that they shed tears for Karbala while eating from the same table as Yazid. That is why we celebrate water and trees before the desert and life before death.
  16. They go on and on about vandalism. The destruction of Gezi Park, doesn’t that count as vandalizing? We claim public property in the most peaceful manner and we repeat: Do not damage public property!
  17. What is at stake here is not only opposing an idea but also demanding something else. Solidarity and cooperation bring about companionship. With this high-octane energy, the country made gains beyond the measure of any stock index. This alone should suffice to declare the area a site.
  18. People are not customers. We need to sustain what we’ve achieved to keep this relevant. We could hold Fraternity and Solidarity festivals every year on 31st May. A festivity of freedom where everyone participates in their own colour; a world of equality where money is obsolete. Everyone brings in what “they don’t need” and everyone takes away “what they need.”  This is what people long for, in order to counteract the fear of big money.
  19. A poet reminds us that the dead need to be counted in the population of Istanbul. To honour the beautiful dead, we must ensure the city is protected for those who will live here in the future.
  20. Youngsters have put it very aptly in graffiti: “Even if we lose, we’ll have the sweet aftertaste of revolt.”
  21. We’ve learned a lot, we’ve translated all our past resistance and dreams into a new language. We have written our past on a clean slate.
  22. Hope, dream, utopia! And revolt! Like a poem a youth reads out loud in the square: “With you, we rewrote all of our love stories on a clean slate.”

* Protester Abdullah Cömert died in Antakya on 4 June 2013 during clashes with police.

Burhan Sönmez

Burhan Sönmez

Burhan Sönmez was born in Haymana in central Turkey. After graduating from the Faculty of Law at the University of Istanbul he practiced law for several years. He has contributed to various newspapers and magazines on issues of culture, politics and religion. His first novel North was published in 2009. His second novel The Innocents (2011) received the prestigious Sedat Simavi Literature Award.  Sönmez is a member of Turkish PEN. The Turkish version of his article “The Aesthetics of Resistance” was published in Birgün newspaper.

Duygu Tekgül was born in Antalya in southern Turkey. She studied Translation at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. She did an MA in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University and a PhD in Sociology at the University of Exeter. She has translated and copy-edited several books for Turkish publishing houses and has worked for National Geographic Turkey as a translator. She currently teaches translation and does research in Cultural Studies.


A great post about a great show of solidarity from a great woman.




World-renowned American musician, folk singer and activist Joan Baez sent out a message to Turkey during her concert to an audience of thousands in Fairfax, Virginia last night.
The concert had started with the performance of Indigo Girls, with the attendance of an enthusiastic group of thousands of people from all ages.

Joan Baez, who had during the day stated, from her facebook account, her intention to support the People’s resistance in Turkey, read out her personal message and dedicated the folk song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, that was originally an Indian hymn, to the Turkish People.

Her message was:

“Dear Turkish People,
I would like to express my support for the Turkish citizens, lawyers, doctors, youngsters families, students, the people with belief in their heart, who are fighting courageously and peacefully to preserve the heart of your culture, the beauty of your land, and the soul of your people.
Your voice has been heard everywhere, and I am greeting you now.”

Baez, her message having received a vigorous response from the audience, then went on to sing her song:

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot.
Coming for to carry me home.

Well if you get there before I do,
Coming for to carry me home.
Tell all my friends, I’m coming too,
Coming for to carry me home.

And I looked over yonder and what did I see,
Coming for to carry me home?
So a band, a band of angels, it was coming for me,
Coming to carry me home.

Swing low, swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
Swing low, swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.

Swing low, swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me, you, us, them home.”

Article:Protests in Turkey: The Language of Protest | Free Word Centre

Protests in Turkey: The Language of Protest | by Canan Marasligil, Translator in Residence at the Free Word Centre.

News:Report from Turkey

A report from AnatoliaLit Literary Agency, based in Istanbul

House of Anansi Press

June 13, 2013 – Update

This past weekend many of us in Canada began hearing news reports about the protests taking place in Turkey. Although most of the information being reported was rather scarce in detail, it was clear that what had initially started off as small peaceful sit-in, had quickly erupted into something of a much bigger scale, both politically and socially.

On Monday morning I arrived at the office to find an email from Anansi and Groundwood’s Turkish subagent, Amy Spangler. Amy is the co-founder of the Instanbul-based AnatoliaLit Copyright and Translation Agency.  Amy and her colleagues act as sub-agents for Anansi and Groundwood, helping us place our titles with Turkish publishers. Most recently, they negotiated the Turkish sales for the Ava Lee Series by Ian Hamilton and the Stella and Sam Series by Marie-Louise Gay. They are a lovely and dedicated crew, and I look forward…

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