gezi

3 questions to Mustafa Altıoklar about his new Gezi film project

Little more than one year has passed since the Gezi protests in Turkey. Mustafa Altıoklar, renowned Turkish film director and one of the medical doctors volunteering during the protests, is now planning to make a film about the events. In short, the film will portray a love story between a female protester and a young man, whose family has ties to the ruling party, AKP. A sort of Romeo and Juliet story, that will also contain real life footage, shot by Mustafa Altıoklar during the protests.

Mustafa Altioklar Gezi protest Film movie

He has already written a script for the movie, and producer Nida Karabol has been assigned to the project.

Now he is reaching out to the public in order to get funding for this film, that is highly controversial in today’s Turkey.

I asked Mustafa Altıoklar three questions about the project. Here are his answers:

First of all, how was the process of writing the script?

Mustafa Altıoklar: Painfull… As I am a medical doctor under my other hat, I treated the wounded as a volunteer doctor in the make-shift infirmary in Gezi Park even as tear gas and rubber bullets were raining down. So, I observed the events in a unique position to tell this story as an insider who witnessed unfolding dramas first hand. I started writing the diaries during the days of the protests and finalised the script soon after the termination of revolts. 90% of the events in the script are true stories, so most script writing job consisted of conjoining them in a meaningful way. This operation took about two months and was painful, since I recalled the tragic events over and over through out the process.

Why reach out to the public for funding?

Mustafa Altıoklar: Firstly, I want to make clear that this is a non-profit venture. All funding will be used in the making of the film and any surplus, as well as proceeds from the film, is to be donated to other non-profit ventures or organisations. Secondly, the current repressive situation in Turkey makes it almost impossible to secure funding for a project that goes against the government’s liking. Media and even businesses feel the autocratic pressure daily and the government, with all forces at its disposal, acts promptly and forcefully at the slightest whiff of public dissent. It is, of course, futile to apply to the Ministry of Culture for support funds for a project like this. Consequently the only way to raise funding for this movie is crowd-funding.

What measures do you think the government will take to stop this film?

Mustafa Altıoklar:  On the 18th of June, just some days ago, the government banned certain subjects to be discussed openly, such as the Roboski massacre, Reyhanli massacre, the 17th December corruption operation, the Soma disaster and ISIS terrorism. So, they may just add another prohibition to shoot this film. They may also send treasury inspectors to dig out pseudo legal issues, or they may send narcotics to disrepute any of the volunteers of the project. They will definitely threaten the providers, supporters and media who publish any news about the project. They may cancel or forbid the locations that we want to film at, and finally they may imprison me to stop filming. We are prepared to handle any of this, including me going to jail. I already made a plan on how to finish the film remotely.

In order to donate to this Gezi film project CLICK HERE!

Advertisements

What Tunisia and Ben Ali taught me about Erdogan’s future

What Tunisia and Ben Ali taught me about Erdogan's future

What Tunisia and Ben Ali taught me about Erdogan’s future

Two weeks after I came home from a touristic travel to Tunisia in early december 2010, the uprising against Ben Ali started. I was surprised, since I had traveled throughout the whole country and talked to many people, not the least students, asking them what feelings they harboured for the man in charge. Except minor complaints about the high unemployment, all they said was positive. Education was free, people were happy. I left the country with a totally wrong perception of Ben Alis popularity. I had been naïve, and the Arab spring came as a surprise to me.

Ben ali Tunisia Erdogan Turkey

Ben ali Tunisia Erdogan Turkey

But I would would fall into the same trap twice…

During my two years in Turkey, before the Gezi protests, politics was something that people smoothly avoided to talk openly about at dinner tables where not all guests where known. Only at closed gathering, in my predominantly secular circles of friends, did some anger and the dissatisfaction with Erdogan’s politics show. But this I only realised in hindsight and I was therefore surprised when the Gezi protests took place and grew to a national phenomenon. I could never have guessed they would occur one week before they started.

I came to draw the conclusion that in an environment, where critical opinions can´t be ventilated on a continuous basis, sudden, unexpected outbursts – such as the Gezi protests and the Arab Spring- will always be the way of change – BY DESIGN.

So, what can this teach us about the future of Erdogan, the feelings about him in his own circles now so celebrating, supporting and free of criticism against him?

Does the silence and acceptance within the AKP mean that no one harbours any criticism towards him?

Most definitely not.
One example: Bulent Arinc is by many looked upon as the reasonable voice of AKP, before so talkative on all issues. Why has he recently been so silent?

And what does the grass roots of the AKP think about the Soma accident where no secularists where victims, but instead people like the ones Erdogan says he is trying to help?

Does people close to Erdogan buy his explanation and his denial of any involvement in the company who manages the mine?

Do the AKP believe in the Robot Lobisi?

I have decided not to fall into the same trap a third time. The AKP keep silent, just like the liberals and the secularistic Turkey did before the Gezi protests, before they had enough, before it all had built up to being just more than they could accept. But I know better now.

I know that that silence harbours more criticism than thousand words are capable of.

Piece by piece Erdogan is building up a heavy pile sh*% that will eventually fall down on him, crush him, bye bye!

 

Part 1: The Taxi Drivers

Taxi in Istanbul

The taxi drivers

A couple of nights before the local election I was out walking. Outside one of the night clubs in the central historical part of Istanbul, where you will find many of the liberal Gezi youngsters partying and drinking, stood a group of taxi drivers, with their yellow cars, waiting for the night club guests to be in need of their services. I could tell, somehow, from the way they looked towards the entrance, that they weren’t happy with what they saw.

“How is business going?” I asked them.

Surprised that I spoke to them in Turkish, they asked where I came from, and after I answered we continued to talk about other things. I suggested that spring had come to Istanbul, they said it had been a warm winter.

After a while I cleared my throat.

“What are you going to vote for in the elections?”

A slightly noticeable discomfort spread among them, they started to look at each other, some turned aside and laughed nervously.

“I am going to vote for AKP” one of the short men, said, “I am voting for Tayyip!”, he continued in a louder voice, looking to the other men for assurance.

“Have you always?”

“Of course!” he exclaimed, like it was the most ignorant question on earth. “There is no one else than Tayyip Erdogan!”

The other men repeated “Tayyip Erdogan” in some sort of mumbly choir and laughed.

“So, You also vote for the AKP?”

“Of course” they all said.

A short moment of silence occurred.

“So, what do you think about the corruption allegations? Are they real?”

The men’s discomfort now became more evident than before, and one of them was just about to open his mouth, when a tall and rather well dressed man suddenly came in front of me.

“We don’t talk about this! AKP is going to win, we gonna vote for them, and Fetullah Gülen will be gone. Thats it!” he said in an aggressive manner.

I took a step back, and if the man had had a more rough look, I would have escaped the scene. But instead I stood silent observing how he seemed to spread fear among the men. He was clearly above them in the pecking order.

“We gonna win on sunday!” he continued now facing the men. “AKP will win! We going to vote! And after that Turkey will continue as usual!”

Then he hastily went away after someone had called on him from another group of taxis a bit away. All of us watched his back in silence as it faded into the night.

“Who was that?” I asked after a while.

“It is our boss!” the short man said. He organizes our taxis, gives us work…”
“From the municipality?” I said.

The short man smiled insecurely.

“Maybe!”

To me, this was a perfect illustration of how freedom of thought and expression in Turkey is a luxury that only can be afforded by the very few who are economically independent. One of the main reasons for AKP’s success is that they have managed to activate the grass roots of the society and make politics out of almost everything in their everyday life. In a society that is almost to an absolute extent already built upon friends, family, and social network, this has become a very efficient way to maintain support and silent opposition among the poor conservative, working people, who is in an overwhelming majority in the country. Especially occupations that in some way is under the government and municipalities control, have quickly turned into professions where only people who agree with the AKP is allowed to enter. This is valid for the professions high up in the hierarchy down to the very bottom, where even workers, are expected to agree with everything the AKP stands for. If you do not agree, you will face problems, likely get fired.

I said goodbye, and the group of men was dispersed. The short man jumped in to his taxi, started the engine and drove slowly towards a waving group of youngsters at the night club’s entrance.

 

 

 

Two Simple Questions to Abdullah Gül!

Two Simple Question to Adbullah Gül

Two Simple Question to Adbullah Gül

Yesterday my father sent me an email with a link. It directed me to an article informing that the Turkish president Abdullah Gül signed a law that would make it illegal to give first aid to anyone without the government’s permission (click here for NY Times version).

‘What is your comment on this?´ my father wrote next to the link.

I still haven’t answered his mail, because I don’t know where to begin. There are so many layers of stupidity behind the enactment of this law, so many angles to attack it from. So lets just ask four simple questions:

First, is there any other country in the world where it is illegal to give first aid to an injured or dying person? (I would really like to know! Send me a message!)

Secondly, if your son got severely injured (God forbid), Tayyip Erdogan, would you not want people to help him? Of course you would!

Since I consider Erdogan as a lost case, my last two questions instead go to Abdullah Gül:

How will this law in any way make Turkey a better country?

and

How did it feel to illegalize care for fellow human beings?

RSVP