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Today We All Are Someone New: An Open Letter from Istanbul

[ ["Don't touch my neighborhood, home, or city." Slogan and logo from Müştereklerimiz]

[The following open letter was issued by Müştereklerimiz (Our Commons) on 2 June 2013. It serves as an umbrella organization for groups working on urban issues, ecology, immigrant rights, and LGBT rights with the purpose of creating democratic commons. Since the occupation of the Gezi Park, the organization has been playing an active role in helping coordinate and sustain the occupation, including providing treatment for the injured and shelter for participants.]

Today We All Are Someone New!

Many words can be said about these four days. Lots of things will be written, and many grandiose political analyses are surely on their way. But what has really happened these four days?

The resistance for Gezi Park ignited the collective capacity to organize and act among us, common citizens. It has been the matter of just a spark…. we saw the very body of the resistance as it walked towards us along the Bosphorus bridge, we saw it endure without fear along Istiklal street; we saw its limbs in all those people, who in spite of being chocked by an excess of teargas, would still struggle to help one another. We saw it in the shopkeepers giving us food for free, in residents opening their houses to the wounded, in the volunteering doctors and in the grandmothers banging their pots at windows all night long as a sign of defiance. The police waged a veritable war against us; they ran out of their tear gas stocks, they trapped us in metro stations and shot us with rubber bullets – but they could not break this body. This collective body, moved by a spark, resisted for days. Our experiences got inscribed on our collective memory and run through its veins like lymph. As a new resistance got engraved on our memory, we also remembered one simple fact from past resistances: we can determine our own fate through our own collective action!

We can reclaim our life, and where we want to live it.

The resistance, which embarked on a journey to protect Gezi as a common place, nurtured our strength and courage with its tenacity, creativity, determination, and self-confidence. In no time the resistance blossomed from Gezi Park to Taksim Square,  from Taksim to all Istanbul, and then the rest of the country. The struggle for Gezi Park became the place  to voice all our rage against anything preventing us from deciding for our own way to live the city. After this display of rage and solidarity nothing will be the same again. No one of us will be the same. Because now we have seen something about ourselves we had never seen before. We did not just see it: we made it together. We saw our own bodies moved by a spark, and create the collective body of resistance.

The Gezi resistance triggered a youth revolt. It has become the site and the symbol of the rage against political authority and most probably all forms of authority for one or two youth generations who have only lived under AKP governments and equated authority with Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Any struggle to come is now going to be enriched by these generations.

The struggle for Gezi Park and Taksim Square revealed the political meaning of public sphere. Taksim transformed from a public square which the AKP government seeks to constitute within its own hegemonic framework to the square of collective struggle. We have seen the resistance that a single spark can ignite, and we know now that we are fully capable of lighting new sparks and new resistances. We can sense our collective might against the dispossession of our commons because we got a taste of what resistance feels like. We shall not step back from where we are now. Because we know that we carry more than one spark, more than one struggle, and that it is only a matter of moments before a single spark turns into a fire.

This is just the beginning, the struggle continues!

Müştereklerimiz/Our Commons
2 June 2013

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