Never before has Turkey seen such unification. Seeing the people gathered all around the country finally made me believe that the Turkish people can make things happen. Finally, a move that gives everyone the sign that citizens care and are aware.
The morning of the 31st of May, people (not a lot, I have to say) were gathered at Gezi Park for a while, reading books, playing their guitars, sharing their food, silently protesting the plan to demolish one of the very few green places left in downtown Istanbul, to build yet another shopping mall (which we don’t have enough of, apparently). At 5.00 am, the police ‘intervened’, using tear gas and pressurized water. Eventually, things got a lot worse, and protests against the police violence spread all across the country. People were killed; some crushed by panzers, some had heart attacks, some got hit by the pepper spray on their heads and had concussions… These went on for almost 3 days, when the police finally retreated in Istanbul (conflicts still going on in other cities, and at times in Istanbul). Today, 3 days after the beginning of the use of brutal force by the riot police, everybody knows what has been going on. It has been a global manifestation of excessive force used against civilians.
As the events heated up, people could only share what was going on via Twitter and Facebook. The internet in those areas were cut by the poliçe, but all households and hotels and shops lifted their passwords for their wifis to help out. Social media was the most important communication and information outlet that could be used.
Unfortunately, and to the disgust of many, the mainstream media was completely blind to what was going on right in front of their eyes (or they were forced to act that way for that matter). As CNN International was broadcasting a live feed of Taksim Square (where ‘’Gezi Park’’ is located), CNN Turk had a cooking show on air. There were re-runs of TV shows, and a documentary about penguins on another large TV channel, while ‘’Gezi Park’’ story was the hottest subject for media companies all around the globe.
People should not be forced to hear what is happening in their own country in another language than their own. This past weekend is a disgrace to the media sector in Turkey. Waking up and opening up Twitter on our phones and computers to learn what happened the night before is not acceptable.
However, this is exactly what is happening here. As large media corporations played the 3 monkeys, social media became the most important aid throughout this ‘Occupy’-style resistence. Even though it is a new age where the citizens take the lead when it comes to reporting and showing the truth, Turkish media still should be completely ashamed of themselves. Being a reporter is not just about getting a diploma and / or a salary in media. It is about having the courage to speak and reveal the truth, even though others tell you not to. If the government is censoring the news channels, the solution is not to run a documentary on penguins. The media workers too, have the right to protest. Publishing a blank page on your newspaper is better than writing something that has nothing to do with what should be reported while a riot like this is happening.
31.05.2013 should not be forgotten. It is the day on which the Turkish people woke up to their responsibilities as a citizen, and it’s the day on which the Turkish media fell asleep; it’s the day Turkey became one, and it’s the day Turkish mainstream media came to an end.