Saturday, 15 June 2013

It's not all tear gas and water cannon.


As I write this post, the TV is broadcasting live from Taksim Square. The police are clearing the area with water cannon, following the fleeing protesters into the lobby of the Divan Hotel and filling the foyer with pepper spay or tear gas.  The newsreader sitting in the studio is looking decidedly nervous as femail protesters are saying exactly what they think of their prime minister, words that are not usually allowed to be broadcast. It's an ugly, upsetting scene that makes me despair and wonder how the situation will ever resolve itself. I sympathise with the protesters, I too have stood in line before armed police, protesting to save trees and prevent massive desecration of an unspoilt area to fill the pockets of already rich individuals, and although we weren't subjected to water cannon and tear gas, we had live ammunition fired over our heads, and this was long before Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came to power.  Over-reaction of the authorities to peaceful protest and destruction of nature is nothing new in Turkey and those that have a rosy view of past governments should not forget this.  You may be wondering what this photo has to do with the protests. Absolutely nothing.  This was Mazı Beach yesterday; as tempting as always.  I was at Lake Bafa on Thursday and in central Bodrum today and can confirm to anyone who has booked a coastal holiday in Turkey that all is safe and calm. My daughter works for Mark Warner holidays and her guests are still enjoying their windsurfing and sailing.  Turkey has always been a  big contradiction of a country and as areas of Istanbul seethe the rest carry on as normal.  Please don't be like Matt and Lillian in the Archers and cancel your trip to Turkey. The majority of us here are still waiting to give you a warm welcome.

30 comments:

  1. I'm sure you all are, Annie. It's such a shame that, as you say, that makes one despair as to how it will be resolved.
    As for visiting, well, I'd love to but not just yet - and nothing to do with the current situation. You have really made me want to visit Turkey (even though I always write Turdkey...) and one day I will.
    Axxx

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    1. I'm sure you will get here one day - how about a bloggers conference next year?

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  2. We've got house sitters who have just arrived at our Gumusluk house. They had no qualms about going.. and sent me a rather amusing email about mad dogs and englishmen going out in the mid day sun! I know I'd have no concerns either .. the media coverage is just scaremongering in a box.

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    1. sorry RJ, calling media coverage 'scaremongering' is a bit disingenuous - have several friends who were in the thick of the violence last night. There were kids and elderly being gassed and water cannoned and places like the Divan Hotel which acts as a refuge and first aid centre were attacked by out of control police firing CS gas into the interior. 100s of thousands rallied across Turkey in support - from Adana to Çanakkale and everywhere in between. Some were attacked by police and some not. Last night was described as the most violent police actions so far.
      As for tourism in the majority of the country, I agree, everything seems pretty normal and visitors will get the usual warm and friendly welcome.

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    2. The violence is real enough and the worst I've seen on Turkish TV ever. I'm sue there were much more violent scenes in the East when Kurdish towns were wiped out but that violence didn't grasp the middle class attention.

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  3. B to B, We are a bit more optimistic about the Gezi Park protests. We think the protestors won a victory and should build on that victory. In order for that to happen, people have to be able to see that simple fact - that it was a victory and not a defeat. But unfortunately, what passes for political ideas many times comes out as ugly insults from both directions. Hopefully, in the future, the movement that began in Gezi Park will develop a discourse that is positive and can convince the ordinary Turk of the rightness of their cause. And if there is a plebescite in the future, this will be an opportunity. In the meantime, as you say, life goes on.

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    1. I wish I could be optimistic, I feel as if a line has been crossed that makes back tracking almost impossible.

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  4. Well said Annie. Of course we are anxious and worry about how or when this matter will be resolved (hopefully without more violence), but it's important to remind people how big this country is, and how what's happening in Istanbul will not in any way affect their beach holidays.

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    1. We are sitting tight in our quiet villages and I can't help but feel guilty about it.

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  5. Hear, hear from Norwich. Of course people should still visit. While not understating the horror and significance of events in Istanbul, cancellations will mostly hurt those who can least afford it.

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    1. As always - the least well off get the worst deal

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  6. Like anywhere else, keep away from trouble spots and your holiday will be fine...might as well say don't visit London when the G whatever number it is this time is on and the police are busy kettling all comers.

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    1. UK police kettling looks like a Sunday school outing after the Gezi Park affair.

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  7. I am a travel agent in Bodrum. Some of our guests tour Istanbul before coming down to the coast. In the last 2 weeks we've had 3 groups in Istanbul. They have avoided Taksim and had a trouble free stay there.

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  8. I was listening to patronising French "specialists" fighting for supremacy about this subject yesterday. Reading your description of the conflict, it sounds very much like the Trocadero in France a few weeks ago.... Except the French were rioting to prevent gays people having access to the same rights as the rest of the population. A méditer.....

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    1. I had trouble getting my head around that French protest.

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  9. This is a really quality post.I find this information through Google. Great job

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  10. Wonderful post Annie; my heart goes to all suffering during the protests, but it is important to tell folks that Turkey still offers some of the best summer holidays and it is safe- my parents are off to Bodrum for their time share home today, so as my sister shortly. And that Mazi Beach looks so inviting!

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    1. I'm sure your parents and sister will find Bodrum as they left it last year.

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  11. As an outsider, it is easy to hope there is a peaceful solution, and that tourists keep going to Turkey, for everyone's sake. Watching the protests, reading bloggers' words does make me fearful though. I hope Mazi beach continues to be such a lovely spot....and that the people keep coming Annie ! J.

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    1. I'm also fearful as this violence seems unstoppable.

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  12. What a beautiful beach! I still can't wait to be back in Istanbul in 3 weeks! :-)

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  13. Just to clear something up, the protests started out as a demonstration about trees, but quickly became mreesed for t startuch larger. When the government names the Occupy Gezi movement the nature lover's movement, it shows how tone deaf they really are. One of the main problems was the PM, backed by police, decided to go ahead with his plans for Gezi Park before the courts had ruled on it. It's a movement about responsible government. Trees were just a convenient symbol. And yeah, guys. There is, if anything, an understatement about things that are going on now, and in major cities it's only likely to get worse before it gets better. But down the coast, as I understand, things are beautiful. Wish I was there!

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    1. When a passive protest over trees and a park is tear-gassed and water-cannoned by government controlled forces, the resulting escalating fracas is understandable. In theory all development needs an ecological effect report before commencement . In practice, the developers rarely wait.

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  14. Any holiday-maker who wants to support peaceful change in Turkey shouldn't shun it, as economic damage will just strength the hand of the powers-that-be. I'm sure that in such a big county life is carrying on as normal for most people and holidays should go ahead, while still being aware of the reasons for the protests and the need to avoid any slide into authoritarianism.

    PS That beach is gorgeous. :-)

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    1. I hope that the tourism isn't wiped out by this.

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  15. If you are planning on coming to Turkey, that's great!
    Moreover, you can support the people of Turkey without supporting the AKP government.
    How?
    By staying in small hotels that are locally owned and locally run, rather in 5-star, all-inclusive places that do not put as much back into the local economy (not to mention the issues of money laundering and environmental degradation - most large places have gotten through the planning process by some "questionable" method...)
    and
    By talking to local residents about the situation in Turkey, both in relation to the recent demonstrations and the ongoing (in my mind) reprehensible legislation and overall agenda of the AKP in general and the PM in particular - and by taking this news back to your home countries.
    THANKS! and looking forward to having you here...

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