Bruce Lawson's personal site

Viva Istanbul

I lived in Istanbul for a couple of years and love the city enormously, so have been glued to the coverage of the Istanbul protests (revolution?) over the last few days.

It started out as a peaceful sit-in by some citizens who were angry over plans to redevelop one of the few remaining green spaces in the city (the population of which has increased tenfold between 1950 and 2000). Heavy-handed policing brought more people out into the streets. This cartoon (circulated by a Turkish friend) illustrates this well:

women watering flower is sprayed with tear gas by policman in riot gear

When I lived in Turkey (in the mid nineties) the police were a law unto themselves. Every month they’d come to the bar where we English teachers hung out to demand on-the-spot “fines” for our not having passports (they knew that the passports were taken away for weeks by the grindingly bureaucratic work permit authorities). When a bomb planted by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) exploded, my Kurdish girlfriend hid in the house for a week; she explained that the police would beat or rape local Kurdish people. Forced virginity tests were common.

So what do the protestors in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir want? It seems (bucking the comfortable Western narrative) that this group of young muslim people aren’t reactionary zealots. Sumandef, a Turkish woman writing in English on her blog post What is Happenning in Istanbul? says what many of those interviewed on TV and friends of mine say:

By so called «complaining» about my country I am hoping to gain:

Freedom of expression and speech,

Respect for human rights,

Control over the decisions I make concerning my on my body,

The right to legally congregate in any part of the city without being considered a terrorist.

To all who are protesting in Turkey (or anywhere else) against authoritarians who wish to tell us how to live our lives, I wish you safety, and success.

Buy "Calling For The Moon", my debut album of songs I wrote while living in Thailand, India, Turkey. (Only £2, on Bandcamp.)

5 Responses to “ Viva Istanbul ”

Comment by Mağruf Çolakoğlu

Hi Bruce, thanks for good wishes. Yes here is we have terrible days. Now everything is Ok bu in the evenning most of people gathering in many place and make protests.
But in the news you mentioned above, it says “two people died” it is not real or not confirmed by officially. Lots of incorrect news on social media and we need to be cool nowadays.

But the worst thing is there is no any news on national channels. Just you can find news on
Actually this is not official URl but official one ( is hacked.

BTW, many cyber wars are here. Many hackers groups are attacking to government websites…

I hope everything will be ok in coming days.

Comment by Mustafa Hastürk

Hello Bruce first of all, thank you for attention. I would lite to attach a video link that you can see the truth about what happening in Istanbul. I hope beautifull and free days will come, sun will rise for us.

Comment by Jesse

Thank you, ever so much, Bruce. The linked article has given me some better insight about the current happenings in Turkey.

Your posts are entertaining enough to keep me from doing my work (damn you!). Also, thanks for “Introducing HTML5”; I found it helpful for gaining focus on the semantic meaning of the new spec, as well as providing proper methods of use.

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