After the occupation of Gezi Park by the government forces, we no longer have the “symbolic center” of the June Uprising. Erdogan’s government must have thought that by eliminating the symbol of Gezi the movement would lose its “Mecca” and would perish by force.
The symbols are important, for sure. However, the force of reality Erdogan cannot bring himself to bear will also prevail. This fight has already gone beyond the “couple of trees,” that is, beyond the fight over sacrificing Gezi Park for the proposed urban rent grab. The fight went beyond the initial cause of protecting the trees in a park the instant Erdogan asked, “Should I be listening to a couple of riffraff?” or when Ethem Sarisuluk was shot in the head, or when Abdullah was killed with a tear gas canister shot to his head. It went beyond the initial fight when the people forced Erdogan to sit and negotiate with them on June 11 by resisting for more than 20 hours on the streets. Then, the insurrection for the trees which Erdogan tried to belittle by calling it, “environmental sensitivity” turned into an insurrection for honor and freedoms. From this point on, no one who participated in the uprising will go back home saying, “We rescued the Gezi Park, the uprising has reached its goal, this is as far as one can go, no need to face violence.”
Acceptance of the government to negotiate after the mass resistance of June 11 helped to create an expectation that the government could try to wane down the rallies by giving few concessions. Although it became clear at the table that this wasn’t so, the idea to “make the resistance acceptable” gained ground in the organized element of the uprising under the influence of “marginalization” rhetoric. What the “organized element” of the insurrection which until now could only follow the events from behind could not understand was the reality that there was no “acceptable resistance” for Erdogan’s government. This is due to the fact that the JDP fascism has no tolerance for legitimizing the resistance. To accept the legitimacy of the insurrection means the end of the JDP fascism. For this reason the government did not even allow the chance of the resistance continuing in the form of a “standing guard” under a large tent.
The people, by taking to the streets the moment the park was occupied and started to march towards the Taksim Square from all districts of Istanbul, declared the June 15-16 resistance as the “Uprising of Freedom and Honor” to the world. With the energy that emanated in these two days, the meaning of the popular chant became real: “This is only the beginning, struggle continues!”
The most important lesson the masses learned from this resistance was that the uprising could not get any results with a single strike. And with tremendous creativity the people took two fabulous steps: “The Standing Man,” and “The Forum of Abbasaga.”
On the night of June 17, the government spokespeople put on airs as the “proud commanders” and started spreading the message that “the events are now under control and the order has been established.” Just when this message was starting to take effect, a single man who only stood up took the entire Taksim Plaza and gave it back from the government to the rule of the people. The paradox of “Opening up the Plaza and the Park to the people” rhetoric of the government came back to bite Erdogan in the form of an artistic expression: The People are in an uprising! To “open up” the Taksim Square to the people means opening it up to the uprising of the people. Either Taksim has to be occupied by the government or the uprising will take place in Taksim! Through this all, the symbolic center of the insurrection morphed from a material “location” to a new symbolic center, the “resisting person” clearly visible from every point of the resistance. The “Freedom” overcame the authority one more time!
On the morning of June 17, people woke up to find that the government had started the “Operation CARSI” against the popular soccer fan club Carsi , which was instrumental in the struggle for the park against the government. To assess the situation, people of Besiktas gathered in Abbasaga Park to discuss the current events as well as the next steps of the uprising. This gathering represents one of the best flowers blooming out of the entire uprising: Peoples’ Democracy! It immediately became evident that night that this step, the gathering in Besiktas, where the pulse of the entire insurrection could be heard loud and clear would spread rapidly across Istanbul. On the evening of June 18th, on the second meeting of the Besiktas Abbasaga Forum, there were already other similar forums forming. The “Solidarity” that had limited itself with being only the “voice” of the peoples’ uprising, rapidly transformed into forming the organs of the Peoples’ Insurrection from the movement itself by calling for “spreading the forums across Istanbul,” and “to form a central and greater forum,” and also for “standing guard at the Gezi Park every Saturday.” By doing this, it transformed itself from being the speaker for a spontaneous movement towards being the center for an organized movement.
It was obvious that the June Uprising was a genuine Peoples’ Movement. What is not known is whether it will morph into a “Revolutionary Movement” or not. Up until now, it seems to have successfully fulfilled all its tasks without hesitation whenever the events called for it. The revolution of Turkey is being resurrected. Let’s salute it!
June 19, 2013