Saturday, May 1, 2010

1. Mayıs'ta Taksim'deyiz!

It wasn't exactly what I'd expected to hear blaring out of loudspeakers in Istanbul: "¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!"

But the protesters gathered in Taksim Square had dipped into the global pool of power-to-the-workers symbols, donning Che T-shirts and hoisting posters of Marx and Lenin amid those of Turkish leftist heroes, to celebrate their first legal May Day in the iconic location in at least 30 years.

Even though the square is just a few minutes' walk from my house, I was only half thinking of maybe going up to see what was happening until I heard the megaphones turn on and the helicopters begin to circle. I'm glad I didn't miss it. Knowing that the last two years of blockades, riot police, and tear gas were just a small footnote to many years of clashes and a still-unresolved tragedy, it was surprisingly moving to see tens of thousands of people streaming peacefully into the square, carrying the flags of their unions and banners depicting their fallen colleagues.

Protesters triumphantly scaled a building where police snipers had previously taken up their posts, and dangled from the Republic Monument in the the center of the square, cheering and grinning. Enterprising businessmen set up stands to make grilled köfte (meatball) sandwiches or toted buckets of iced water to sell to the parched crowd. Bands played and tired marchers snoozed beneath the trees in Taksim Gezi Park. I wouldn't have believed it could happen if I hadn't been there myself. Her zaman böyle Bir Mayısımız kutlu olsun...


Carol Pucci said...

Great blog on Turkey!

The Turkish Life said...

Thanks, Carol! I enjoyed reading about your travels around the country too.