Guest contributor Vasilis Migkos gives an update on the Greek reaction to the Turkish upheaval, describing how these traditional rivals are now supporting each other.
Thessaloniki, June 13, 2013
Democracy, respect of human rights and liberties, freedom of speech and of self identification are fundamental concepts of human civilization. When it comes to their defense and protection, there can be no discriminations, no borders, no animosity.
In recent weeks, the whole world has focused on the brave struggle of Turkish people against the Islamization of their state and society and the restriction of their rights and liberties. Huge massive protests all across the country broke out after the violent police raid against a group of activists who were peacefully protesting against the plans of Turkish Government to demolish Gezi Park in Istanbul and build a huge mall (one of dozens that Istanbul already has). At the same time, in many countries and cities of the world, spontaneous demonstrations were organized in an attempt of people to express their solidarity to Turks.
Greek response to the call for solidarity was impressive. Just one day after everything started in Istanbul, Greek people expressed their support by participating in a demonstration outside the Turkish Embassy in Athens. Despite the rain, dozens of Athenians, expressed their support with Turks on June 1st, 2013. On June 3rd, there was one more solidarity protest in Athens with hundreds of participators. On June 2nd, a massive demonstration was organized in Thessaloniki. In the epicenter of the gathering there was a group of Turkish students who were shouting quotes in Turkish: “Her yer taksim her yer direniş” (everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance), “hükümet istifa” (government resign), “faşizme karşı omuz omuza” (stand shoulder to shoulder against fascism), “Tayyip baksana, kaç kişiyiz saysana” (Tayyip look at us, count how many we are).
“From Thessaloniki, hello Tayyip, long live the revolution”, “Occupy Taksim, occupy everywhere”, “It’s not just about Gezi Park, it’s about human rights”, “R.I.P. Turkish media”, “Solidarity to Turkish protestors”, “Trees not buildings, schools not camis [mosques], raki not ayran, democracy not fascism, Turkey not Dubai” and “Chemical Tayyip” were some of the things one could see and hear during the protest. A protest full of people, colors and sounds.
Before the march in Athens started, a group of Greek actors played a small theatrical act, in the middle of the gathering. Its theme was “censorship and freedom of speech.” Dressed in black, they conveyed the message: “Don’t stop me! Let me speak!” The protest march headed to the Turkish Embassy.
Police prevented protestors from reaching the building of the Embassy. The momentum however, was unique. Greek and Turkish people who are “supposed to be” enemies proved once again that they can come together, support each other. They can unite, they can fight together for freedom and democracy and they help each other in difficulties (as it happened during the earthquakes in Greece and Turkey in 1999). There is a bright future ahead…