Erdogan returned from his trip last night. We sat at the edge of our seats, anxiously watching his speech on the computer, which was of course broadcast on every channel. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand very much and Gizem had to translate for me again and again. Erdogan spoke of the demonstrators abandoning democracy and the rule of law, stressing that they needed to be stopped immediately. The assortment of supporters rustled up to receive him at the airport shouted, “Just give the word and we’ll flatten the park.” Everything that’s happened so far has been grounded in democracy, Erdogan claims. In turn, he called the protesters vandals and terrorists, speaking of burning cars and of innocent people who have been harmed. The way the whole thing was staged was very creepy.
At the end of his speech, he called on everyone to go home peacefully. They had already conducted themselves quietly for 10 days, something he praised highly – as if he hoped to talk them round. According to the TV stations, 20,000 people came to the airport to see him and hear his speech, though Die Zeit online spoke today of 10,000. I also heard that Erdogan should actually have landed at 9pm, but his plane was “delayed” so that more supporters could be rounded up to get the stage show right on TV at least.
Six Turkish daily papers ran the same headline this morning: “We sacrifice our lives for the demands of democracy,” a quote from Erdogan’s speech.
I can’t imagine that Erdogan could actually mobilize the people to attack this place, but his words were certainly not aimed at de-escalation. More police were deployed than ever last night. And then there’s this:
“The Turkish Crime Minister is literally inciting civil war. Tomorrow I hope no blood is spilled. Round 2 has started.”
But people here are peaceful. The park is an autonomously administrated zone. Half an hour ago the open university offered its first seminar; the vegetable garden is flourishing; more and more people are coming; art projects are springing up; and there’s just soooo much food! It’s absolutely beautiful to see what has unfurled in this vast open space. The organization is immaculate and everyone is mucking in together. Plus, beer is on sale everywhere! It really is an autonomous zone – I wish you could be here to see it!