Berkay Güven is a veterinary surgeon. He is one of those who participated in Gezi resistance since Day 1. He was hit on Tuesday, June 11. He was taken into intensive care unit with suspected cerebral hemorrhage, because of the crack on his skull. After surviving the critical hours, he was taken to the service. He was able to talk during our visit but constantly blinking one of his eyes caught our attention firstly. Berkay clarified the situation at once: He was seeing double and one of his ears was hard of hearing.
‘I was carried to the ambulance atop hands’
He tells all the details: “There is a high platform at the left of the stairs in Gezi Park. I was shot there. I was wearing a motorbike helmet, a gas mask, eyeglasses…to be honest, I was protected. Then suddenly all I felt was a blackout and ringing sounds… I was shot at the left side of my head. The right part was totally paralyzed. I could not breathe when they were carrying me, so I took off my helmet. Someone took my helmet and vanished. It was an evidence to clarify what hit me. It was something as powerful as to penetrate a motorbike helmet and crush my skull. Once, I was hit by a tear gas shell to my chest but it was not that powerful. Everyone was cooperatively carrying me to the ambulance.”
Berkay, 28 years old, is one of those who had never gone to streets for protests until that day and now he is afraid of the possibility that he may not hear properly, again. He is a typical Gezi protester similar to others. He has never been a member of any political party or an organisation. In his own words: he was annoyed by AKP’s dictatorial actions and he says he could not stand when Erdogan called Ataturk a “boozer”.
“I was there, full of humanist behaviours. It is like we have a sultan here and he gets whatever he wants. He behaves as if he is the prime minister of 50 percent of people in Turkey. He says ‘We hardly keep the 50% at their homes’ as if we are not people of this country, we are just terrorists. We killed no one. We did not damage anything. We are people of this country, too. We want a better life and more freedom. You cannot discriminate people according to their religions, languages, races. I am a human. I have two feet, two eyes; I can think. I am just an ordinary citizen and I don’t do anything illegal. Now we don’t know whether my left ear will hear or not.” says Berkay.
NO SUCH THING AS BALANCED FORCE
Reacting to the definition of Police’s action as “unbalanced power”, Berkay says “when security forces supposed to protect me use immense power to crush my skull, using the word ‘balance’ is out of question. I would be dead if I wasn’t wearing a helmet. There are people who are not as lucky as I was. I saw a lot of them who were drenched in blood and carried by people.”
THE CALL OF THE FATHER TO THE POLICE
Berkay’s father Cemal Güven is a retired police officer. For him, the Gezi resistance is movement of standing up for your rights: “In democracies, people demand certain rights. These protestors do not have any weapon; they just have a piece of cloth in their hands. The police do not commit crime maybe but they make people commit crimes. I used to belong to that profession for so many years. A policeman is a human being in the final analysis. The working conditions of the police force are terrible; you work most of the time 24, 36 or 48 hours non-stop. I remember the shoes they gave us would stick on our feet because they were of bad quality. The orders come from above. The ordinary policemen have to obey the orders. They also have to use the equipment and supplies that are given them. The policemen cannot consider if the intervention is proportionate or disproportionate; this is the task of their commanders. And the commanders also got the orders from their superiors.” Cemal Güven calls out to his colleagues: “My police friends and colleagues, there are fathers among you. Please think of your own kids.”
THE MOTHER VOTED FOR THE AKP
The mother Ayşe Güven says that she voted for the AKP in the last two elections. “Look, I am one of those 50% that the Prime Minister talks about holding back hard at home. Because his party ameliorated the situation and conditions of Küçükçekmece neighborhood where we live, I voted for him. But now, while my son was in the intensive care unit, the PM was talking about the %50. From now on he cannot get vote from me and from many others like me.”
A CIVILIAN SHOT ME FROM A 15-STEP DISTANCE
Hülya Arslan was also wounded on June11. Her mother Müyesser Arslan had gone to Gezi Park in order to protect her daughter. Hülya was helping people affected by gas at the solidarity committee. At nightfall, the police intervened all of a sudden. Hülya tells the details: “There were policemen in the front rows and there were some civilians behind them. There were some armed civilians that firing arbitrarily over people. Even though I was hiding behind a trash can, they aimed directly at me, fired and shot me from the eye. They weren’t very far away. There were just 10-15 steps between us. My head was bleeding so much that I was about to drown in my blood. I had difficulties to breathe. But I was trying to hang up and not to faint. I was repeating the name of my mother. It was such a sudden raid that we could never escape even if we wanted to.”
Civilians dressed in clothes with big pockets and rubber bullet rifles in their hands were firing constantly as if they were trying to exterminate all the protesters, says Hülya. And she adds, “This is an outright savagery. They wanted to kill us. In order to evacuate the park they shouldn’t do this. It is not right.” Hülya was carried over hands of other protesters and brought to the Şişli Etfal Hospital. Because she had lost too much blood and shot from her head, she had a very critical operation. She has lost one of her eyes. But she feels better. She is still full of hope and hasn’t lost anything from her courage, because she knows that, thanks to her and other protestors, “Nothing will be same any more”.
‘THE POLICE LOST THEIR LEGITIMACY’
Evren Köse, one of the badly injured of the Gezi Resistance, had gone to the Park with a note in his pocket, saying that he donates his organs. Evren escaped death by a fraction of an inch.
Evren Köse is 26 years old. He is also a proletarian. He worked as an electrician until the police intervened in Taksim on June 11, with the pretext of bringing down the banners from the AKM building. Evren is one of those whose lives became a nightmare during that brutal police intervention. The right side of his skull was shattered by a tear gas shell. He was brought to the Şişli Etfal Hospital with his brain bulking out and vomiting blood. They took him immediately to the operation block. When we interviewed him, he had already survived critical situation but he was exhausted and devastated psychologically. It seems that Evren is experiencing a kind of ‘Vietnam syndrome’; according to his parents, when his nephews and nieces came to visit him at the hospital, he was horrified and wanted them to go home, shouting, “They will fire tear gas bombs and rubber bullets here; please take the kids to home!”
HE DONATED HIS ORGANS
Evren was almost screaming when he said, “We didn’t deserve this!” Yes, they did not deserve this at all. They were using their constitutional rights to protest in a legal civil disobedience movement and they were shot by rubber bullets and tear gas bomb shells. Evren is such a conscious citizen that wants to save others’ lives by donating his organs. While he is giving a lesson of humanity, the government continues the brutality. One of the doctors at the Istanbul Şişli Etfal Hospital talked about this brutality in these words: “On that day, they brought six patients with head trauma. The most frequent injuries that we encountered were the eye injuries. Tall people were especially exposed to the tear gas bomb shells.”
‘THE BDP SUPPORTERS CARRIED ME TO THE HOSPITAL’
Evren Köse is still at the hospital. His first words were: “The Turkish Police have lost their legitimacy.” When Evren talked about that day he focused on the police brutality rather than his injuries: “I was at the barricade in Taşkışla. The police were applying the tactics against deployed against the enemy armies: Divide, encircle, dominate and exterminate. They said, “If you don’t throw stones we won’t fire tear gas bombs.” I didn’t trust them but my friends did. We let the police pass. At the same moment, they started the intervention with TOMA water cannons in Taksim Square. And I went there. The police said, “We are going to take the Abdullah Öcalan posters and leave; we won’t do anything else.” But in the Taksim Square they fired rubber bullets and tear gas bombs right at our face. I was shot, and the BDP (pro-PKK party) supporters carried me to the hospital. Who is the enemy? Our only aim was to resist against fascism. They are the police of the Rothschilds and the Bilderbergs.”
Evren says that he hadn’t participated in any political action before: “On May 30, I went to Gezi Park for the first time to read books.” While he talks about these details he often hesitates because he relive those moments. He breathes in difficulty. I get worried and say to him that we can stop if he wishes. But he refuses. He is furious because he thinks that he was brutalized unjustly. But he also seems to be affected by the disappointment that the image of the Turkish Police in his mind was shuttered.
‘THEY FIRED AT US SAVAGELY’
“I ran towards Tarlabaşı Boulevard. I was trying to go up İstiklal Boulevard. I found myself in a place where there were people on one side and the TOMAs on the other side. When I brandished the flag the TOMA retreated. I thought the police were retreating. It turned out that they were driving back in order to calibrate the cannon’s range. First, because the intervention had ended in Tarlabaşı Boulevard and in the city in general they authorized people to enter Taksim Square. Then, just as we came to Gezi Park, they started another intervention from Taşkışla. When we walked towards the police, they pulled us into an ambush with 6 TOMAs. The water fired from the TOMA paralyzes your diaphragm. Your throat sticks and you cannot breathe. So, we tried to run away in groups of two or three people. But they even surrounded the people who were trying to escape and fired at them savagely.
‘THEY FIGHT WITH WHOM?’
Evren is so furious that he says, “I’ll join the protesters as soon as I get well. They’d kill me like Abdyllah and Deniz Gezmiş. So what? I am scared.” And he adds, “Please write in your newspaper this: people who have financial means should buy real gas masks and helmet. Nobody wants to throw stones to the police, but the police try to kill us and we do not have anything for protection and defense. Nobody wants to breathe pepper gas. But people have something to say. We don’t want the state to use in the service of the fascism the organisms that are created to protect the people. I want justice for our friends who were murdered. I want the state to pay indemnities to me and to other injured friends. Legal and legitimate are not the same things. We used our legitimate right. And the police brutalized us. What happens to our arrested friends? The lawyers wait in front of the police stations but they no longer bring the arrestees to the police stations. They bring them to places like sports. What is the meaning of all this? Whom are they fighting against?”
23 June 2013
This post is also available in: Turkish