What We Want in Turkey
Chapulling is a newly coined word derived from the 2013 protests in Turkey. This word came into being after Prime Minister Erdogan's speech in which he used the word “çapulcu” – the normal meaning of which is looter or marauder – to describe the peaceful demonstrators. Thereafter, the social media sites adapted this word to English with a new meaning: “fighting for one's rights.”
So what are these “çapulcu’s” doing? We “çapulcu’s” are ordinary citizens of Turkey. We are workers, doctors, lawyers, architects, musicians — the people of this country. We serve our country and its people no matter their social class, looks, ethnic background, or political opinions.
Again yesterday, I was out there in Taksim. When you climb from the ferry landing at Besiktas going toward Taksim, the smell of tear gas hits you, as do the residual effects of this agent.
All roads are covered wıth barricades made of paving stones pulled from the sidewalks.
Arriving at the square in Taksim, it looks like a photograph from Central America in the 1980s, things I have seen only in documentaries of those tumultuous times.
The walls are covered with political slogans; cars and even busses are turned on their sides on the roads. People, mostly university or high school students, are scattered throughout Gezi Park; they have become the new “residents” of the park our Prime Minister wants to turn into a shopping mall. Groups made up of political parties of differing ideologies, social organizations, national unions, and so forth are here. They are dancing, singing, and eating in the park. Our people are caring for one-another, building shelters, cooking with supplies donated by the public, handing out food to Gezi Park’s new “residents.” Musicians from the philharmonic have come together to give concerts while the new “residents” listen, do yoga, sing, and dance.
Mauraders? Looters? This is truly an act of civilians, something that you well know from your history. This is a people who have begun to live as one, as if we have one heart pumping for all of us.
But what is the reason? What do we want? Who is the leader and why are all of these parties trying to take credit for the action? How and when is this going to end?
We, the “çapulcu’s,” today stand for our freedom, raising our voice in a way that will, we hope, echo into the future. This is our country, too. We work during the day and protest at night. Despite serious provocation, we are peaceful. We want our country, our home, our people back. For this we are in the streets. For this we risk all. For this we take our lives and our history into our hands.
Today we will honor those who were killed, injured, and arrested while exercising their democratic rights with a one-minute moment of silence. We will also offer a prayer for Mirac Kandili (a religious day).
We are chapulling for many reasons. Not just for us, but for the 50% of the population whom our Prime Minister claims he speaks for, whom he asserts he is having a hard time “holding back.” While the Prime Minister’s discourses sound like a call to civil war, we will keep on chapulling. By doing so we hope to bring these sad events to a close in a way that will benefit all Turkish citizens, whether they are on the field or not.
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