Monday, October 12, 2015


Graffiti in Istanbul:
"If only it was a dream"
Turkey is still in mourning after the worst terror attack in its recent history, a suicide bombing targeting a peace march in the capital city of Ankara that killed at least 97 people. Flags are at half-mast, heartrending photos from funerals around the country are filling social media, and the sound of pots and pans being banged in protest echoes through the night air in many Istanbul neighborhoods.

Much has been written, and will continue to be, trying to explain the attack, what led up to it, and what its ramifications may be for the next election, and for the country in the longer term. Instead of rehashing them, or trying to add my voice to the many clamoring for attention right now, I'd rather share some pieces that I think are worthwhile reads, a few personal reflections, and some photos and other imagery that seem to capture the current mood -- or, at least, my mood.

"We are dying in order to live as humans.
You who have lost your humanity, you are already dead."
Photo via @sweidius
After such an event, it's easy to fall into despair, but it’s been heartening to see the outpouring of love and support from abroad. I know many people who have responded felt Turkey's pain personally due to their visits here or connections with Turkish friends, which speaks well of the country and its people despite the anger and fear swirling around us now.

"95 dead, 85 million injured"
Yesterday I saw an exhibit of works by student artists from Sarajevo, most too young to remember the bloody war that ravaged their city and killed tens of thousands. In the evening, I shared a wonderful Syrian meal with friends, cooked by a young man from Homs who has fled the violence there and is trying to finish his education and start a new life in Turkey, an endeavor the dinner was helping support. After, and amid, such great tragedies, somehow, life goes on.

Today, people around Turkey are gathering to mourn the dead and call for justice to be done, attending funerals and demonstrations despite the fear that undoubtedly now hangs over any large public gathering. I am inspired by their resilient spirit, along with that of the people who rallied to donate blood after the attack, to bring food and blankets to family members waiting outside Ankara's hospitals for news on their loved ones.

These people, and everyone else who fights for a better, more compassionate world, are living the words written on a protest sign by a young woman killed Saturday and laid to rest this morning in her Black Sea hometown of Arhavi: “Beautiful days don't come to us, we march to them.”

Protest sign in Antalya: “Our pain is great. So is our indignation.
We are bereaved. We are in revolt."
Photo via İleri Haber

Selected reading:
How to help:
  • The "10 October Solidarity" civil initiative is organizing volunteers and donations to help survivors and their families
  • A scholarship fund for archaeology students in Turkey has been set up in memory of Dilan Sarıkaya, 22, who was an archaeological student at Çukurova University

1 comment:

Senior Dogs Abroad said...

Jen, Looking at the portraits of some of the victims was really tough. A horrible waste. What really gives me hope is that there have been so many protests organized seemingly overnight in cities all over Turkey, defying natural feelings of fear to be in large public gatherings.