Everyday We’re Chapulling

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June 5, 2013 by k. liz

I’ve decided that this is worth a post, because, not only is it a big deal, but I live in the middle of it. Some of you have probably heard of the protests going on here in Turkey. (If you haven’t, this BBC link is a fairly good summary to catch you up to speed.)

I don’t know exactly what I want to write about this, because as you all know, this is not a political blog. I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to politics, and I generally don’t involve myself in discussions of a political nature. But, this has gone beyond that, and by the very fact that this country has been my home for the last three years, this is important to me too. I’m not going to give an overview of what’s going on, there are a sufficient number of those out there. I’m not even really trying to ‘pick sides’ here. But, I will say this: when the people who are supposed to be protecting you are attacking you, there is a problem.

Is this the next revolution? Some of my students talk like it is. One student walks into the classroom all in black with a scarf to cover her face this morning, and the rest of the classroom starts clapping as she walks in. Students have brought tear gas canisters to school as souvenirs for teachers. My student showed me a picture from his high school friend whose forehead was severely gouged by a tear gas canister shot at her head. My students have spent time in Gezi park and any other place where people are gathered. My own apartment complex at 9:00 on the dot leans out of the balconies flashing their lights and banging on pots and pans. The main campus of my university turned into an infirmary and offered refuge to people running from tear gas that the police were shooting. The people are calling for government officials’ resignation. Will that happen? I don’t really know. I’ve never really been in a place like this before.

The protests started in Istanbul, they have spread to countless cities throughout Turkey, and they have gained acknowledgement from people around the world, including those from my own camp, the linguists! Chapuling, coming from what the Prime Minister called the street protestors: çapulcular, meaning marauders or looters, has come to mean anyone standing up and heralding the cause of freedom. Noam Chomsky affirmed it, and it already has its own wikipedia entry.


I’m not here to say who is right and who is wrong, but I will say that I respect fighting for democracy. I’m an American, and happily so, and I know that our democracy did not come without a price. I’m not going to speculate on the ins and outs of the Turkish demonstrations, but I hope that the end will be a peaceful resolution in the name of democracy.

I’m not chapulling on the street in my marauder gear and gas masks, but I am completely behind the fight for freedom and the fight for human rights.


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