Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Silent protest against police violence in Turkey

We have for a while been witnessing extreme police violence against unarmed, peaceful protestors around the world. This violence expresses not only the repressive powers of the state but the growing fear of the oligarchs at the massive character & breadth of social opposition--& reflects not just their strength but their weakness.

This photo is the terror Turkish protestors faced on June 16th when riot cops charged them ferociously with tear gas & water cannons. It’s a sight that gives even veteran protestors pause because it is terrifying to witness. The repressive Erdogan government cleared Taksim Square in Istanbul & declared it a protest-free zone.  But within a day, Erdem Gunduz, a Turkish performance artist now called “Standing Man” (reminiscent of the anonymous “Tank Man” of Tiananmen Square in China who stood alone against a line of tanks) began a silent solo protest in Taksim Square facing a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of Turkey’s secular democracy. Hundreds began following his lead, filling the square with silent protest.

Mocking tyranny, Gunduz was replaced by a mannequin when he was briefly detained by cops & is joined now in Taksim Square by thousands of silent protestors. The media has called this defiance of physical force a “passive resistance,” although it seems mighty aggressive even if silent. It might be more accurate to call it the undaunted spirit of human rebellion & it is certainly right to see it as a beacon of human creativity & courage in the face of overwhelming violence & tyranny. Our solidarity & salute to our brothers & sisters in Turkey. You do the human race damn proud!

(Photo by AP)

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