Not surprisingly, the day after the battle, the camp looked like a war zone. The water cannons, the gas attacks, the stampedes, and finally the rain had seriously damaged the peripheral neighbourhoods of Gezi Park. Our Audiovisual stand had been completely destroyed.
I had very ambiguous feelings walking around Gezi yesterday morning. On the one hand, I was so happy that we are still here. And I was so sad to see the camp in these conditions. I was immensely thankful that I had been there to participate in the resistance. For once in my life I really stood for something important, shoulder to shoulder with some of the most wonderful people I ever met. Right from the start I realized that if there’s anything worth fighting for, it’s the Free Republic of Gezi Park. But I was sad that we lost the square, that we lost the barricades. I was fond of those. They were so beautiful, so symbolic. Finally, I missed the excitement. Everything seems boring after a 21 hour battle in defense of freedom.
Soon though, normal life resumed. People started an all out cleaning and reconstruction effort. Within hours, the whole camp was rebuilt and polished to shine. Many things had been broken during the course of the battle, but not our spirits. During the afternoon, supplies came in. Helmets, masks, goggles, donated by the thousands.
At the same time, some people from ‘Taksim solidarity’, the original organizers, met with Erdogan. I am a bit sorry did they didn’t tell the pm to fuck off after the attack he ordered. He cannot be trusted. On the one hand, he offered a referendum on Gezi Park, and on the other hand he said that the he will make sure the protest will end within 24 hours and that police will behave very differently this time. In practice, he announced a bloodbath.
The people weren’t intimidated. On the contrary, they invaded Gezi Park, ready for continued resistance. I have never seen the park as packed as I did yesterday. Around seven o’ clock, rumours went around that the police attack was imminent. So everyone put on their gear, calmly, expecting the worst. At the barricades the other morning, one of the anarchists told me that police may use live rounds of ammunition. But, he added, “ideas are bullet proof”.
Three livestreaming units were deployed, and broadcasting. Yet the attack didn’t come. Once again, people formed a human chain around the police, to avoid provocation from our side. Instead of the final apocalyptic battle between good and evil, something else happened. Something unexpected. A piano appeared, a big one, the one they use in concerts. It was decorated with lights, it stood right at the top of the main entrance to the park, ‘nineteen steps to the edge of fear’. Someone sat down, and started to play. “Imagine”, by John Lennon.
So people in the square started to sing. ‘Imagine there’s no heaven… Imagine there’s no countries… And no religion too… You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will be as one.’
It was a magic moment. You should have seen the public. The old and the young, prepared for battle, listening to music. I see beautiful women wearing construction worker helmets and casually carrying gas masks instead of hand bags, tears in their eyes.
At that point we expected the attack to happen early in the morning, but it doesn’t matter. We are here, we are free, rocking like there’s no tomorrow.
The sad news that comes in is that one of the injured has succumbed, taking the official death tally to five (four plus one). At the same time Erdogan adopted a lightning law that makes it a crime to use social media against the government. He bears a grudge against Twitter. We don’t care. We know he’s #runningscared.
In Ankara, our brave comrades keep defying police repression night after night. Our hearts and minds go out to them and everywhere else where people are resisting. Like they sing here, “her yer Taksim, her yer direniş”. ‘Everywhere is Taksim. Everywhere is resistance.’
Late in the evening, thousands and thousands of people remain on guard in case of an early morning attack. When dawn breaks we are awake. Once again, the attack doesn’t come. Instead, people have breakfast together with police. They share biscuits and coffee and chocolate freely with the same people who attacked them all day and night with water and gas. Try to imagine that. I wonder if you can.