Love in a Time of Tear Gas

A strange way to spend my 38th birthday, holed up in a small hotel round the corner from Taksim Square, waiting to see what comes next in the struggle for Turkey's soul. But then these are heady days to be alive in Istanbul. Last night I went to one of the city's parks where protestors had gathered to discuss their next move. Hundreds sat packed together, listening to a succession of speakers, while others sat in groups under the trees as night fell, drinking beer, laughing, sharing the sense … [Read more...]

A Night in Istanbul

As night fell over Istanbul, the tear gas drifted across the city and everywhere there was the sound of people banging pots and pans in protest at the government. I write from a friend's apartment. On his ancient stereo, The Clash are playing Know Your Rights, which seems appropriate. I have a glass of home-made cider by my side. For much of the evening we have been holed up here, unable to move because of the riot police on the street outside. They frequently fire tear gas. At one point … [Read more...]

Marching to Taksim

Tens of thousands were on the march in Istanbul tonight. Perhaps hundreds of thousands. They came onto the streets all of a sudden, in a spontaneous outpouring of anger when they heard the police had moved in to Gezi Park. They came unarmed and peaceful, offering nothing but their voices and their presence. And the police answered them with violence, with tear gas and batons, with rubber bullets and charges. This was Recep Tayyip Erdogan's application for the presidency of his country, … [Read more...]