The recent upheaval in Turkey brought a tinge of emotion to this writer, as Turkey was one of my childhood homes, at least from the time I was seven to ten years of age in the early sixties. I remember as a young boy living in the Kavaklidare neighborhood of Ankara and feeling as if I owned Ankara. I would wander and engage people everywhere, while I am sure my parents had their ways of keeping an eye on me, I never felt it, what I did feel was the warmth of the Turkish people. Then one morning, the family was awakened to the sound of violence, military conflict with jet planes flying past our windows and the Presidential Palace located upon the top of Cankaya hill being bombed and strafed. My parents hustled me and my siblings into the inside corridor of our flat and sandwiched us between mattress (we were so squished we asked to take our chances with glass breaks). And for the next few days were confined to our flat, with the only water available was that which my mother had wisely filled the bathtub with, and the city was embroiled in a coup d'etat.
These past few weeks has seen Turkey again embroiled in an internal conflict. What started as a group of students peacefully protesting the destruction of Gezi Park in Istanbul's Taksim Square for a commercial parking garage, has escalated way beyond the simple civil protest and much of this can be blamed on the extraordinary use of force by the police in Istanbul, an overreaction reminiscent of events in other country's history (Kent State in the US for example). As we know, when one side of a protest escalates to the level where one can not ignore the overwhelming suppression, it draws national and international eyes upon the event, and ignites the other side of the equation. And with that the flame was lit.
Here is where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (former Mayor of Istanbul) has missed his opportunity to truly be the ultimate statesman in the form of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk and instead has taken the tack of listening to some truly outrageous advice from his lieutenants. He should be paying attention to the fact 40,000 people walked from the Asian side of the Bosphorus to the European side to participate, peacefully in support of the their fellow citizens being subjected to the brutality at Erdogan's direction. He now finds himself having negated much of the good he did when he was carried into office by 34 percent of the popular vote and with his Justice & Development Party controlling two-thirds of the national assembly. He is now fodder for the evening comedy shows and he has painted a self-portrait of himself as that of a dolt playing as prime minister. Erdogan has allowed his ego to get ahead of this reason.
Turkish parliamentarians will ultimately decide when to put forward a no-confidence vote and topple Erdogan, if they wait too long, the Turkish military has a history of setting things right for the populace when an elected official evolves to that of a ignoble dictator, a journey which Erdogan is often accused of having initiated long ago (1960 and 1981).
And while Erdogan looked about who to blame, the protests widen and the population engages, violence meeting violence until one day, one man says, I am going to stand. And on June 18, a lone man, Erdem Gunduz walked out to the newly reopened Taksim Square, and took a stand, literally. He stood motionless for six hours, with his bag in front of him. And with that a new form of protest came to be, that of *Duran Adam* (Turkish for Standing Man). Across the country mothers, wives, sisters, brothers, husbands, and fathers of Turkey stepped out of their homes and into the street in silent protest. And then, with the speed of the Internet, Duran Adam began to gain support across Europe with sympathy and support protests aligning with the common man of Turkey broke out in Europe, and beyond. The BBC reports on the Duran Adam - Standing Man.
My friend, Jade Yesim Gunver, former TRT anchorwomen and correspondent, who believes in the power of people living together with tolerance and peace embraces the idea of standing for peace. She says the Duran Adam/Standing Man movement will unite us under humanity and help to stop the violence in Turkey and elsewhere. Given the number of quiet and peaceful Duran Adam protests taking place across the glove, she is not alone in this belief.
The call to action is for all within the US to show their support and participate in the Duran Adam in the United States for July 1, 2013 at 1200 EST. Step outside your office, your home, your automobile, hold your sign *Duran Adam* in support of the people of Turkey. Take a picture and put it on the social network of your choice with the hashtags #turkey #DuranAdam.
Perhaps Prime Minister Erdogan will then see, he has the opportunity to make a difference and be the statesman he thinks he is, otherwise, he will, unfortunately be known as the man who viewed himself in the form of Ataturk, in his own mind.