Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree: Turkish Protesters’ Park-Forums

Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul:

Spreading Chestnut Tree

“… I sold you, and you sold me …”

Turkish protesters, having discovered the power of their words, have been gathering in parks across the country to talk about their problems, possible solutions and methods to achieve them, and how they will react to injustice and unfairness. They have reached a unanimous agreement that all will be handled non-violently, through peaceful means. The park forums have been generating millions of ideas, all topics that were considered to be taboos of society now come out to moon-light every evening, and bringing them to people’s agenda gives hope for the future of Turkish resistance.

People no longer lock themselves indoors, no longer lone-time across TV, they do not take their family to a chain-café in a mall. The society in general has discovered the freshness and beauty of parks once again and millions head to parks with their food, drinks, and snacks every evening after work; they share a cup of tea and their words. The agenda is set by the people and for the people. They mostly tend to focus on political and social problems in the forum, yet the time will come for optimistic topics and acceleration of the production of culture.

Being part of history in the making, the people realize such a movement has never come into being before in this geography, and they are pure strangers to this kind of assembly en masse. This comes with many consequences though. For some it is a forum of peace and acceptance; others who come into contact with people they had hated for long decades have a hard time trying to overcome their prejudices. I would like to believe that this will all lead to the establishment of a social-political culture that is much more accepting and inclusive than any others before.

While the police attacks are calmer now in general, with a few cities left where police attack protesters and parks (especially in Ankara), in other places there are occasional instances where hate takes the stage and becomes obvious for a short moment. The more important perspective to look at is to consider such unwelcoming messages as an opportunity to prove why separating this huge solidarity is wrong. It is a chance for the sane people to come forward and answer the suspicions of those people who were conditioned to hate one another for decades and were subject to the mainstream media’s biased coverage all along.

When matters of justice are being brought into the agenda on a daily basis, there is great unrest at the news of four military officials being released without punishment although they had raped a 13-year-old girl, while on the other hand a child could be given 92 years’ imprisonment for supporting the protests in Mersin. As an update on the news of the last week: Across the country there were 884 people detained, 24 of them arrested, 860 released, 16 in legal-medicine centers, 42 children detained, six people still missing in detention. Although some media sources have started reflecting the news from a slightly more objective point of view, since 70% of the media bosses are related to someone in the government it is hard to expect them to have unbiased coverage. Thus there are many TV shows and newspaper articles still propagandizing against the protesters and trying to instigate violence against them. The propaganda also fosters violence from pro-government supporters as they have now started forming local communities, wearing monotype clothing and attacking park forums with knives and clubs.

This social reconciliation cannot allow itself the luxury of failing; it is not an easy task for anyone, yet it has to preserve the spirit of siblinghood in society. After all it is the one chance people have to initiate a general cultural reform to catch up with the post-modern world. However, were this civil movement somehow to fail, then we will have to be referring to George Orwell’s closing remarks rather than to Glen Miller’s “The Chestnut Tree” and cite from the novel 1984 rather than a love poem:

Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me – 1984

MORE STORIES by Gürkan Özturan @

Exit mobile version