Dieses hybride Leben zwischen Berlin und Istanbul, wie oft habe ich diesen Wunschtraum erzählt bekommen. Hier und da sein zu können, das Beste aus beiden ziehen. Das Leben als ein Mix aus zwei großartigen Songs gewissermaßen. Guelriz Egilmez hat es einfach gemacht. Einfach ist natürlich irreführend, weil es nicht einfach, sondern kompliziert und widersprüchlich ist, dieses Leben hier und da. Ich kenne Guelriz seit vielen Jahren. Es ist eine eigenartige Freundschaft. Sie kommt damit aus, dass Guelriz und ich uns in all den Jahren nur zwischen Tür und Angel gesehen und turboschnelle Minigespräche geführt haben. Vor ein paar Wochen haben wir uns das erste Mal überhaupt verabredet. Fisch gegessen und Raki getrunken. In Istanbul. Wir waren im Yakup 2, einem Restaurant in der des Tünel, wo sich viele Journalisten, Intellektuelle sowie Künstler verlieren. Eigentlich wollten wir ins Karaköy Lokantasi, unser beider Lieblingsrestaurant, wie wir beim hin und her simsen zuvor belustigt festgestellt hatten. Dieses Wunderlokal ist sonntags allerdings geschlossen. So haben wir im Yakup 2 in wenigen Stunden Fragen von Mode, Musik und Migration abgehandelt. Den Absacker nahmen wir in einer Bar, in der 1990er Jahre HipHop gespielt wurde. Darin kennt sich Guelriz exzellent aus, wie sie überhaupt eine Kennerin guter Musik ist, nicht festgestellt auf ein Genre, eine Schule, nur konsequent darin, dass sie gut sein sollte. Guelriz macht in Mode. Sie brachte ein eigenes Label an den Start, lange bevor in Berlin dieser kurzatmige Hype um deutsch-türkische oder türkische Mode entstand. Mit LINIST baute sie ihre eigene Berlin-Istanbul Brücke. Man könnte jetzt die Geschichte einer kämpferischen, erfolgreichen jungen deutsch-Türkin erzählen, die Karriere in der Modebranche macht, weiß, was angesagt ist und Style hat. Die Story ist diffiziler. Denn Guelriz ist neben allem, auch ein politischer Mensch. Für Guelriz geht es nicht um sie allein, sondern, was um sie herum geschieht – in ihrem Freundeskreis, ihren Kiez, ihrer Stadt undsoweiter. Deswegen waren die Verbrechen des NSU nicht eine mediale Dauerschleife, sondern ein Initialmoment, Berlin den Rücken zu kehren. Sie wohnt jetzt in Istanbul, nicht wie diese zugezogenen Almancis (Deutschländer), sondern so, als hätte sie die ganze Zeit dort gelebt. Mit Berlin hat sie nicht abgeschlossen. Das weiß ich nicht, ich hoffe viel mehr, dass ihre Istanbul-Berlin-Brücke noch lange hält.
Quoting a film from the seventies by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Fear is a main subject in societies nowadays- from the Near, Middle and Far East all the way to Western Europe.
The concept of fear got me thinking: I am a woman of turkish origin who grew up in Germany and decided to live and love in Turkey. Turkey is under the regime of an authoritarian nutcase. The authoritarian nutcase is offering refuge for more than two million refugees from various countries like Syria and Iraq in Turkey. In Syria there is currently a civil war going on between the dictator Assad and various rebel groups of the opposition plus on top of it by a so called Islamic State. Iraq is long lost for various reasons. ( „Various“ is the nom du jour as everything is so fucking messed up and I don’t know how to get the facts right by now.) The citizens of Syria and Iraq, from among many others wartorn regions in the world, are fleeing their homelands and countries with Germany as the praised land in mind. Germany is the country that most of the refugees are fleeing to by risking their lives tremendously by choosing unsafe passages through „various“ (sic!) countries like Turkey, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Croatia and so forth. The german chancellor Angela Merkel goes out of her way to, on the one hand, invite refugees from aforementioned countries to seek refuge in Germany and, on the other hand, is planning to implement transit zones on the borders of fortress Europe and offering aforementioned nutcase huge monetarian help in order to keep refugees from Germany and Europe. German people disagreeing with Merkel’s open door policy are starting their own way of showing their right to civil disobedience by putting refugee camps on fire on a regular basis.
Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Germany and all of its people are somehow representative for other countries and its people following the same logic.
This is a very simplified way of putting together factors in an equation in order to make my point to which I will come now: As weird and logical as it seems at the same time, Fear is what all these various factors in this incoherent compilation have in common.
I myself am living under a subconscious and sometimes very conscious non-definable fear in Istanbul. I am not endangered as I am not a member of an ethnic minority in Turkey. I strongly support humanist and leftist believes which I am too scared to declare in public right now ever since the first attack on civil society and oppositional groups of mainly left-wings which happened in July in Suruc. A suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of students who were on their way to rebuild the long embattled town of Kobane which got freed by kurdish fighters from the IS and killed more than 30 people. The suicide bombing is supposed to be planned and executed by the IS which never claimed responsibility for it. The turkish government made these claims in order to justify their now proclaimed fight with the IS and more importantly the PKK. Ever since the landslide loss of the ruling party majority in turkish parliament the countries state of affairs hit the downslope. Outright threatening of the opposition, killing civilians in Kurdish regions by claming to fight terrorism. detaining journalists, oppositional politicians, shutting down newspapers and tv channels to name only but a few of regulations is showing the nutcases’ fear of losing his power over the state of Turkey and its people. The second attack in Ankara where again two suicide bombers attacked a gathering of freedom protesters and more than 100 people died in the killing nurtured my rising fear and helplessness in this country. When I was too scared to claim my freedom of speech and attend a peace protest, more than 100 people died because they wanted to overcome their fear and show their strong will for peace. It is terrifying to understand that you die when you fight for your right to protest the status quo. The power of fear is ruling the ruling party of Turkey and it has its people in stranglehold. To maintain a clear vision of if the government is nurturing the IS or fighting it or who is working for whom under which circumstances or which outside forces are again threatening the state, let’s the conspiracy theories go galore and your sane brain AWOL.
To continue: Turkey is offering refuge for more than 2 million people and it is not the safe haven as the government wish it to be seen. Granting no basic civil rights, neither monetarian help nor the right to work legally, refugees are forced to work as cheap labor under miserable conditions and endure racist attacks by Turks. The refugees’ fear to die in the civil war of Syria or the unstable conditions in Iraq ,and after maybe having lost family or friends before, put them on the trail out of their homecountries. By endangering the life you wish to protect you overcome your fear and put yourself on the way. Fear is your force to stay alive which you put aside. You risk something which is your life because apparently life is worthwhile maintaning once you don’t have the privilege to choose.
Germany now is the country that most of the refugees are longing for in order to be safe. Safe from death and fear. Chancellor Merkel announced that Germany is able to welcome 800.000 refugees this year (without raising taxes) and refugees keep coming in. „Wir schaffen das“, is the famous remark by her which struck me for a mere second as it made me wish to believe that Germany can change after all (???) and offer asylum for people in need as it is indeed a very wealthy country and make up for their role as one of the biggest warfare exporters in the world. Nonetheless Merkel is faced with utter refusal by her own coalition partners and the utter racist population in the country who is in fear of being overrun by muslims. Her fear of losing her power and her face her integrity after admitting the refugees to come and now realizing that Germany as a whole is not that humanist and charitable after all, lets her negotiate some utterly despicable deals with the aforementioned nutjob (utter and utterly is prominent in this part of the text.) Money for keeping the refugees away to put it in a nutshell regardless of Turkey’s ruling party’s disrespect for civil or human rights. The blatant opportunism of this thinking is unbearable. Again here the fear of turkish people is at stake as Merkel is reinforcing Erdogan’s power fantasies.
For all who can’t read or write or remember recent history and evaluate present times: Turkey is not a safe third country according to the EU as it wishes to be or as Germany suddenly wants it to be, without even ever accepting Turkey as a candidate without restrictions. Oppositional parties, kurdish people in Kurdistan as civil targets, journalists, newspapers or civil society groups- everyone forming their own right to oppose the ruling party or are a minority is under attack. As it can’t grant safe living conditions to all of its citizens it can’t grant these conditions to refugees.
This means that the fear of the refugees to stay in their countries or to stay in Turkey will lead to more fleeing to the fortress, no matter what. The wish to live is bigger than the fear, in case of the refugees aka the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Eritrea, Sudan and many more wartorn countries as they are humans in the first place and not refugees per se.
Fear is embracing all of us and has us in its grip.
Irrational fear of sth bad might happen is opposed to rational and certain fear where sth bad will happen.
People in safe countries are more plagued with irrational fear.
People in unsafe countries are under constant fear of i.e. dying or being injured or traumatized.
Germany is a safe country.
Syria and Iraq are unsafe countries.
Turkey is on the verge of getting an unsafe country.
Once Turkey is an unsafe country the more refugees will come to Germany.
Hard facts put together rather simplistic.
Fear is egoistic and makes you only want to think for yourself. I among many fear for myself in Turkey, the people of Syria and Iraq are fearing for themselves in their countries, german people are fearing for themselves let alone all the governmental representatives.
I have no idea how to overcome this deadlock. I only know that being ruled by fear doesn’t mean to threaten, endanger or kill another person in order to feel safer. Killing or endangering others doesn’ t let you live safer, it endangers your own life. Fear is eating your soul to come back to the start. When your soul gets harmed you ask yourself what else is left.
Reading the news all day in Istanbul today about the tragic coal mine incident in Soma which happened on Wednesday is nothing but disturbing all the way. Almost 300 coalminers lost their lives after a fire broke out in the mine. More than 100 are still missing and are most likely to be dead as it is impossible to survive under the circumstances which are supposed to be prevailing in the mine. It is not the first incident to happen and not the last but the most severe so far in the history of Turkey. The term “Shit happens” ran through my mind as I was reading the news today about the political perceptions of the incident by some. It is a term I would usually use in other circumstances. Like when a party is more dull than expected, the guy you fancied doesn’t reciprocate, the million in the lottery didn’t make you rich and so forth. Nothing severe nothing important. The term is brilliant to express that you were somehow involved and eager in the matter but are able to except the disappointing ( yet common) fact that life is not always playing in your favor. Wikipedia says: “Shit happens” is a common slang phrase, used as a simple existential observation that life is full of imperfections and unpredictable events, … The phrase is an acknowledgment that bad things happen to people for no particular reason.” According to some political opinions in Turkey working in a coalmine seems to be one set of circumstances where unpredictable events can happen for no particular reason, simply because work and accidents are inextricably tied together (Of course they are. Like my hand can fall off whilst writing my way to sarcasm heaven right now because the gods want to punish me…) I regularly use the term in a larmoyant yet self-determined way when I’m somehow aware of the set of circumstances in which “Shit happens” incidents are happening to me and am somehow prepared for the outcome. Working in a coal mine in Turkey in order to earn your living and providing your family with food and shelter is not the set of circumstances you choose in a self-determined way just because you think it is safe and sound to work there. Miners in Turkey are not choosing this because it is great to go down 2000meters into the earth and make a living from hard-knock work where you know you are tied to this set of circumstances: – Miners who are working in privatized coal mines throughout Turkey are working there because in some regions it is one of the few to sole sectors in which to earn money, – The labor is poorly paid ( daily workfare is 40TL equals 13€, you do the math for the month), – extremely dangerous because labor protection measures are poorly granted and safety regulations are not obeyed, – due to privatization the mines are working with subcontractors who are not tied to the already weak unions. Coalmining has a long history in its usage to generate electricity since the 19th century. In Turkey, due to the fact that coal is still “Turkey’s most exploited indigenous source of energy” ( cited from this brilliant article in THE NEW YORKER) and the cheapest one because of cheap labor, the linkage between bad set of circumstances and “unpredictable events” become apparent. Work and life is cheap in coal mining business in Turkey. One could compare it to the textile business in Bangladesh. The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 cost more than 1.000 textile workers their lives and left more than 2.5000 severely injured. It is one of many “unpredictable events” aka accidents while working in the textile business. Again people don’t choose to work in the textile business in Bangladesh because they think it is a decent way to earn a living (minimum wage is 68$, raised after Rana Plaza collapse). Most likely they do it because they don’t have another chance of earning money in some regions or cities and are aware of the fact that it is poorly paid and labor protection measures are apparently not followed when working in a desolate building crammed with companies working for the big clothing corporations. The Soma accident and the Rana Plaza accident weren’t unpredictable. They were predictable and are marked of pure grief and unbelievable horror. Grief about the lives lost and horror about the political and medial slaughter which takes place afterwards right now in Turkey and back then in Bangladesh. The horror of the political and media coverage right now lies in the fact that everybody is throwing stones at the other. The ruling party at the opposition parties, them at the ruling party, the corporations at the media and the media again at each other. The public opposing the ruling party wants to use the incident for enlightening the blinded followers of the ruling party by showing the merciless approach of the headmaster and its arrogant remarks. The public of supposedly blinded followers are praying to god and blaming the unfaithful for being unfaithful…. simply hilarious if it wouldn’t be so tragic. Political agendas are carried out on dead bodies and sarcasm and opportunism is sky-rocketing. I am not citing names because the names are replaceable in the coverage succeeding events like this. I also wanted to blame some political and media corporation fuckups but realized something else whilst writing this. While everybody else is throwing shit like there’s no tomorrow everybody keeps forgetting that by doing what we are doing and this is consuming cheap coals aka cheap electricity (and heating) and cheap fabrics, we are mostly responsible for what’s happening: Cheap electricity we all like because we consume it increasingly and are neither willing to pay high prices nor lower our consumption. Consumers of cheap fabrics are most likely we and by we I mean consumers of the western world who are shopping at Zara, Mango, H&M, Primark yada yada yada. Cheap fabric is not so cheap anymore once it made its way to the shelves on the high streets of Berlin, London, Paris, Kopenhagen etc. The retail price becomes absolutely expensive because of a mark-up up to 300-400% compared to its production price. Cheap coals are cheap because of cheap labour. The big mining companies keep raising the production rates, are selling more coals for cheaper prices, are lowering the incomes and raising their profit margins. Cheap fabrics are also cheap because of cheap labour but we are paying high prices in order to make Zara&Co.’s billions the more the merrier ( in a nutshell and simplified). Of course we don’t think of us being also responsible for tragedies like these at first thought but once you start thinking one should realize that it is not negotiable that we are not. We are most definitely and as long as we keep doing what we are doing predictable events like this will continue to happen. I don’t want to be defeatist but on a day like this after watching and reading the coverage of this event I want to pound my head against the wall and keep screaming that CAPITALISM KILLS! and SMASH CAPITALISM! and WORKERS UNITE! and YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR CHAINS! and many other popular leftist chants. Not because I am a blinded leftist but truly believe that making profit of off peoples lives is something that shouldn’t be done, plain and simple. We are and will be living in capitalist society anytime soon but the extent of social justice applicable to capitalism should be increasing than decreasing. Maybe I am a blinded leftist I don’t care but I will have to rethink what I can do on my terms in order to support this. (Photo: Courtesy of Hurriyet Daily News)
As Murat proceeded me and named his first and excellent post on 60pages ‘Crisis what Crisis’ ( after a superbe Supertramp Album btw), I couldn’t help but had to find another title for my first post in ‘Countries in Crisis’ about Turkey. See above. Istanbul is where I reside right now besides Berlin and I went through the weeks proceeding the local elections and am now going through the aftermath of the outcome. The title popped up my mind immediately and of course I wanted it to name the same because this title is so gripping and befitting for the actual situation in Turkey, post elections. In a nutshell: the ruling AK Parti with Prime Minister Erdogan won the local elections and manifested their status quo with a raise in percentage of votes. Erdogan declared these elections not as the communal elections which they were supposed to be but as the elections in which the country decided whether he is going to stay in power after last year’s Gezi protests and the huge corruption scandal which evolved within the ruling party. Well, he is staying in power and his revenge is bitter! Some people are beyond happy with and are very responsible for the outcome because they voted relentlessly for Erdogan. Some are saying that this period is the worst nightmare that this country is going through (sooo wrong!) and some are saying ‘Crisis what Crisis!’ because it has never been different and will never change, they say. Thinking that elections will make radical changes in democratic societies is the underlying misapprehension. Elections may shift power structures but they are not changing them. Either they are there or they are not. If the past months since the Gezi protests in Istanbul showed something it is anything but the predominant power structures occupying turkish politics. The young folks and majority of people who occupied the Gezi park for a couple of weeks and took their anger to the streets in order to be met with disproportionate violence by the police don’t have a party as their voice. Most of them (but not all of them) were either a-political or weren’t interested in participating in extra-parliamentary aka alternative movements or were involved but got frustrated because of the belief that nothing will ever change. This has many reasons which I can comprehend and retrace but for me it causes a lot of questions and concerns when I want to show my solidarity wholeheartedly. For me especially one reason always bothered and will always bother me: A lot of people were oblivious to the fact that there is an ongoing political and military ‘confrontation’ (to put in an euphemism) for almost 30 years in the east anatolian pre-dominantly kurdish region of Turkey. To explain this conflict would exceed these pages but to name one fact: more than 30.000 people were killed in the conflict and only recently a supposed appeasement strategy has started. For a very long time this didn’t bother too many secular or religiously conservative young or old people in this country who weren’t kurdish. Kurdish-turkish people weren’t allowed to speak their language, listen to their music, express their political opinions, assemble in associations and so on for ages. Only recently the situation is changing and kurdish people are granted more rights and self-determinative power. Only recently means: since the ‘evil’ AKP is in power and opened the peace negotiations. To stand up and take your discontent to the streets is something I support wholeheartedly because I did it for the majority of my life in Kohl and post-Kohl Germany as a leftist person. Leftist organization and opposing the conservative governments also has a history in Turkey but this history is soaked with blood by three military coups. Following these coups people got estranged of taking sides, showing their political viewpoints upfront and got a-politicized to the fact that they couldn’t care less when an inner war is going on in their country and thousands were killed. It were always the ‘others’ never themselves and now that the wind has changed the urge to change something emerges. Yes, something has to change but is not the fact that Party A has to go in order that Party B has to come. My viewpoint post-electorial is this: The country was ruled by secular conservative militarist bozos for the majority of time since the founding of the republic. The kemalist republican doctrine was used a political and strategic instrument in order to enslave the citizens and make them forget the loss of their civic power in a democratic society. It screwed people’s minds severely and the effects are still prevailing. The oppression, prosecution and killing of thousands and thousands of political and religious dissidents in the name of Atatürk and the kemalist doctrine for the entirety of the republic has left a severe trauma and mutual mistrust among the people. I am nothing but a critical thinking person but in my opinion this is the root of a majority of problems which are encountered right now. Anything else is make believe. This got already too long as my first post but will elaborate soonish.