Gezi Festival – June 21 – 22 / Bergse Bos, Rotterdam
“To live like a tree, single and at liberty and in solidarity like the trees of a forest…”
Towards the end of May of 2013, a resistance began in Istanbul Gezi Park and spread across entire Turkey during the month of June. This resistance was that of the people rising up against governmental oppression. Those of us, living in the Netherlands, have shown our solidarity with the millions living in Turkey and have also organised protests in the Netherlands from the first day of the resistance. Following the resistance, we have regularly come together in forums, under the umbrella of Gezi Solidarity Netherands, where we have debated issues related to, not only Turkey, but also to the Netherlands as well as global issues and have our reactions to these issues through various activities and protests.
We have decided to organise a festival in honour of the first anniversary of the June 2013 resistance. This festival is being organised entirely on the foundation of a spirit of solidarity and with the collaboration of volunteers. With this festival, even if simply symbolic, we wish to bring the Gezi spirit and solidarity to the Netherlands and experience the accompanying joy. At the same time, we shall commemorate those who have lost their lives during the resistance, which spread throughout the country.
As an awareness and a reminder nailed to our mind, to our consciousness, to our passion, to our muscles and joints, and to our ways of perception; saying “Taksim everywhere, resistance everywhere”, we are going to meet again with all of our colors and voices.
How can you support this festival?
- Bringing food and drinks to Gezi kitchen and becoming part of our shared ‘world buffet’.
- The festival is free of charge. Selling items or services is not allowed within the festival area.
- You may support us financially as a sponsor.
- Loaning all manner of technical material that can be of use to us.
- Organising any of the voluntary activities and adding your contribution.
Any support from and collaboration with you is of great value to us. We look forward to your participation and contribution to our festival.
What happened in Gezi Park?
It all began for the sake of a few trees. The motivation was to protest the building of a shopping centre that would demolish a park that served as the only green spot left in the middle of a city. This democratic protest, similar to other protests, was subject to violent police intervention. The tents that were pitched in the park were looted, and the park was ruthlessly cleared of protestors. From that moment on, the real resistance began. Because the underlying issue was not just about a couple of trees, but about the growing government oppression that was already in effect for years; it was about the government`s intervention in individual’s life styles, and it was about the increasing limitation of freedoms. The resistance started in Gezi Park, and waves of protests spread first to Istanbul and finally across all of Turkey. Millions filling the streets protested against the government. Protests of solidarity have been organised all around the world.
The Gezi resistance has brought together holding different views and those who never participated in any type of political protest before in their lives. Solidarity flourished under tear gas and police attacks, and a new culture which we now name as the ‘Gezi Spirit’ bloomed.
The police cleared out the park following attacks on those who protested in the tents set up in the Gezi Park. Following this incident, the public owned this resistance, and thousands came to support. People built barricades surrounding the area around Taksim Square and did not stop resisting until they reoccupied Gezi Park and the police finally had to retreat. During those days of the police retreat, people managed to create a historical alternative mode of living by building a communal life in the park. The Taksim Community took a in which no hierarchy existed, where people of different backgrounds and classes came together for a common goal, and where a common understanding of direct democracy presided, with a spontaneous sense of harmony and functionality. One of the Gezi resistance fighters described the park in those days as “the most joyful place on earth at the moment where no one is poverty stricken, where even the poor enjoy art, books and the touch of humanity to the maximum”. At all hours of the day, food was provided to everyone free of charge by public kitchens. Those wounded were treated at the infirmary by voluntary doctors, and health officers. Security, cleaning and other tasks were carried out through job-sharing in the park, where people created their own self-governing mechanism. An alternative living space was created with its own cafe, educational area and market garden. Alongside this, cultural and art activities were organised all day long. Activities such as a chess club, a Gezi library, concerts and performances on an open stage, painting exhibitions, were arranged with free of charge access for everyone. The park took on a colourful atmosphere where some practiced yoga in the mornings, some picked up trash and cleaned up, where those who prayed and others who drank alcohol could stand side by side and where an understanding based upon respect for all humanity and nature prevailed. With the Taksim resistance, people learned to co-exist in a collective life. A political transformation occurred. People managed to listen to, understand and feel empathy for those who thought differently to themselves and to resist together, hand in hand with others, even though they did not necessarily share the same views.