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Advantages and Disadvantages of Visiting Turkey At This Time

Advantages and Disadvantages of Visiting Turkey At This Time

Old May 15th, 2014, 09:57 AM
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Protests are going on and possibly growing since footage of an adviser to the PM kicking a grieving relative in the balls while held by two policemen and more importantly, of :

The PM himself grabbing a miner shopping in a supermarket by the collar and punching him, with the guy beaten to almost unconsciousness by the PM's body guards afterwards. The PM can also be heard to shout, "Where are you going you ........ why don't you get here?" with he power of his 160 body guards, government retinue and 3500 police.

The number of deaths ar still not fully known. There are rumors of miners wishing to come out after discovering the fire, but sent down again by some managers, with doors closed in their faces. Some doors or gates are still closed and again there are rumors of bodies piled up against them who could not get out. The official number is 283 dead, but the ones who escaped talk of posibly another 400 dead in the mine.

However, there is a great deal of fear among the population of the mining town and also the local media. most of the inhabitants are afraid to say anything against the government which protects the owners of the mine or will not pass the laws and regulations to protect the workers and not even sign the related ILO agreement.

Only one TV, Halk TV managed to show the footage of PM's violence and is now interviewing miners who managed to escape 4-8 hours after the fire started and after having witnessed the death of most of their friends.

The recent information will possibly cause protests to escalate.

There was water cannon and pepper gas shooting cowboys at istiklal last night and it is likely that the next few eveninings will follow suit at least.

Early mornings up to 3PM should be safe at Taksim and Istiklal.

Do not forget that we are talking of a city of 15 million or so. Most of these people need to work to earn a living and have families and children. Some may not care. some may still support the government. So those who protest are not likely to be in the millions and active everywhere.

There are also certain symbolic areas, like the Bull Sculpture off Kadikoy, Taksim and Istiklal, and possibly Besiktas, Harbiye, Sishane areas as points of gathering for moving up to
Taksim square.

Just stay away if you see people gathering or large presence of police and water cannon.
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Old May 15th, 2014, 10:10 AM
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Thanks for the update
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 11:35 AM
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Thanks for following IMDonehere and all others/

The Soma mine disaster still is in the headlines and causing protests because noone in government accepts responsibility for allowing this to happen.

There is also the fact that all those killed during and after the Gezi protests last year belonged to the Alevi sect, as another bad injury due to a bullet shot Yesterday at a funeral near a small protest where the police is seen and heard as shooting their pistols.

As a visitor to Istanbul wrote, the protesters are not vandals and are not violent except against the police and even that very seldom. So, as long as you stay away from the police, you should be fine, especially if you are not seen as filming or taking pictures of police violence.

Interestingly enough this makes parts of istanbul like Istiklal attractive for some tourists, who wish to see the strange atmosphere of business as usual existing at the same time as protests and police intervention, with many acting as if nothing special is going on.

Prices are going up somewhat. The TL has gained grounds and the exchange rate is now about TL2.08 to $1.
Yet, the TL inflation is about 10% over the last year. Fast food is still cheap. An Arby's Beef and Cheddar meal with curly fries was $7 today.

The TRans European Motorway (TEM) road works seem to be partially over and the route at least partially open now from Km.45 to km70 from istanbul towards Ankara.
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Old May 27th, 2014, 11:53 PM
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There is some internal combustion in part of the public due to the mining disaster, the anti Alevi and anti human rights speeches and the extreme authoritarianism of the PM. So far this has not meant wide scale protests.

However, the call for a large meeting at Taksim Square on the first anniversary of Gezi Park protests has been in circulation for some days now,coming from not only typical protest groups but NGOs like the Turkish Medical Association, the Union of the Chambers of Engineers, etc. This will inevitably lead to a confrontation since the government will not allow any gathering in and around Taksim as per their word last May 1 and before.

I strongly recommend that you stay away from Taksim area May 31 Afternoon and Evening and see what turns up on June 1.

Please also realize that so far in all the protests in Istanbul, since many years ago we have seen no violence or vandalism by the protesters despite what the government and the police say, except graffiti and possibly some directed to security and other government vehicles and/or to set up barricades.

However, the police have used violence against not only protesters but also against bystanders, business owners in the location and even tourists and reporters. Hence, refrain from getting close to protesting groups, security forces, police vehicles and do not make a show of taking pictures.

Any and all participants in and around protesting groups who seem out of character are more likely to be undercover police. So better not to chat with any who do not appear to fit in. Ease of demeanor around the uniformed cops, determined looks, casual and/or new shoes, shirts rather than tees or tees which do not go with the pants or shoes, etc. will give them away.

There will also be lots of vendors of simit, fruit, water, flags, etc. in and around the protesting groups, with possibly some of them traditionally being members of the intelligence services.

I will be driving DW to IST airport from our home near Taksim Sunday June 1, Morning and have mapped out some alternate routes just in case.
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Old May 29th, 2014, 12:48 AM
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For the Anniversary of May 31 Protests :

The authorities (!) announced that 25,000 police and special forces units will be stationed at Sisli, Besiktas and Taksim, backed by 50 water Canno at Taksim and access roads.

pedestrian and vehicle traffic will not be banned in the area except for groups,but the Taksim metro station will be closed.

There will be additional mobile forces to intervene when needed at hot spots like Okmaydani, gazi mahallesi, etc.

It just does not occur to them to let people to peacefully have their say and then go home.


Just to keep your mind occupied :

- there is a draft law in parliament which will ban drinking wine (or any alcoholic beverages) even as part of the memorial rites for Anzac (Australian and Kiwi) soldiers at the Gallipoli Battle Fields at any time,including Anzac day.

- There is a great deal of pressure by supporters of the ruling AK Party and the PM to transform Hagia Sophia Museum, a World Cultural Heritage site, to a mosque. Possibly where prayers for international peace and friendship between religions may be held in Arabic only.
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Old May 29th, 2014, 01:34 AM
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Possibly where prayers for international peace and friendship between religions may be held in Arabic only.
//

That's a shame. Why arabic? Aren't Turks proud enough of their language?
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Old May 29th, 2014, 03:41 AM
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ashwin, there was a bit of 'irony' there.

plus the fact that all Moslems pray in Arabic whether they speak or understand the language or not. There is another conundrum for you.
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Old May 29th, 2014, 06:31 AM
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I don't think its a conundrum that a certain language is traditionally used for prayers in some particular religion at all, even if some people don't understand it. The Catholic Church used to say Mass in Latin for centuries, and some people still prefer it. Judaism does the same thing with Hebrew.

I don't like any country with a government based on religion, myself, and have never liked the way women are treated in Turkey, even today.

But interesting on-site reports of the situation, like an embedded journalist.
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Old May 29th, 2014, 09:12 AM
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Oh yes, indian muslims too. However, I was expecting(based on what I've heard) Turks to be a little more nationalistic, and have a superiority feeling over arabs(and their language and culture), like many Iranians.
And what else would be the implications of Ayasofya turning into a mosque? Visitors being barred at prayer times? Free entry(that would be awesome)?
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Old May 29th, 2014, 09:24 AM
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Ashwin, I doubt that you would find the plastering over of all mosaics and frescoes which had been restored awesome.

Worse would be re tiling or painting of all internal surfaces in ways allowed by Islam.

It would mean desecration of artistiv endeavor which had managed to last over a thousand years for petty political gains.

Yes, entry would be free, but the inside of the building would lose much of its interest to the visitors and possibly not visited by those offended for religious reasons.

Can you imagine multimedia presentations of `Life in the Harem` at Topkapi Palace on a different note?
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Old May 29th, 2014, 09:48 AM
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No booze and destroying a world masterpiece? Guess I won't be back anytime soon. Calling Ataturk -- your country needs you!
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Old May 30th, 2014, 02:08 AM
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That would be really unfortunate. I do appreciate the "return to Ottoman identity" kind of thing, as long as it's cultural and taken in a positive way, but this kind of tampering is bad, I hope even the conservative Turkish public doesn't accept this tokenism(it's not going to benefit them in any way). It's akin to India, where surprisingly the liberals/left/seculars have a record of tampering historical evidence for political gains. Fortunately these people have been routed.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 02:21 AM
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OC, do you think people(turkish citizens) would actually care about this, will the Turkish government actually benefit(in terms of votes?) from doing this?
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Old May 30th, 2014, 03:52 AM
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Ashwin, I do not know why you ,
#appreciate the "return to Ottoman identity" kind of thing, as long as it's cultural and taken in a positive way#

since it is like me saying, `I appreciate the wish in India to return to the days of the Mogul Emperors`

In fact the Ottomans were also usurpers and half-foreign emperors who milked huge portions of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East dry without providing any benefit in return.
They had no interest in the arts or in science or philosophy.
So, it was a barren and miserable 500 years for all these areas they kept under their control. (I am not actually singling the Ottomans. All empires do the same things, with some differences. The Ottomans did not allow their basic population to benefit from the pillaging whereas the British for example did distribute some of the wealth)

You should also realize that you cannot group all the peoples who live in Turkey under a single view. The intellectuals and the secular Turks will definitely care and despise the government. the fundamentalist, conservatives will applaud the government or not care in their ignorance, since they have no aesthetic, artistic sense, idea or understanding.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 04:20 AM
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Ofcourse going back brings you no good, I was under the impression secularism had been a little overdone, so a movement in the opposite direction was expected(my knowledge is completely based on a BBC documentary, they seemed to justify the "re-ottomanisation" in a subtle way). The documentary seemed to portray the Ottoman empire as a glorious one(which I guess it was) which has left a lot of legacy(mostly good according to them), and the "secular turks" seem to be taking it away and giving it a new one, so the "re-ottomanisation" was something that most people wanted.
I get both the viewpoints, but I also know that reasserting identities(Ottoman or even islamic identity in this context) doesn't really help anyone.
And can you tell me if secular turks are outnumbered by their opposites in Turkey?
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Old May 30th, 2014, 04:23 AM
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I understand this isn't the place to discuss politics, but I guess we could still have this conversation.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 04:50 AM
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I was under the impression secularism had been a little overdone, so a movement in the opposite direction was expected
_________
This is an odd observation. Freedom to observe or not observe is the basis of any true democracy.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 05:59 AM
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Ashwin, I would never forgive any of my graduate students for basing their public observations on a single popularized source. But I have already requested IMDonehere to come to my class as a guest lecturer a number of times.

Coming to May 31st :

- The meeting called by the Taksim Platform for 7 PM has not been called off despite the police presence.

- The governor proclaimed that Kadikoy Square will also be out of bounds for protesters or any kind of meeting.

- I tried to tweet to advise to wait some days until the police got bored and moved away before Taksim platform met, but I guess that the advice applied only to my 355 followers on Twitter.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 06:54 AM
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Balık baştan kokar - that's at least what my co-workers told me to write

I just wish you a weekend as peaceful as possible. Or at least a safe distance to any harm.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 01:26 PM
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Keep safe, Ahmet.

I read that your top court tossed the youtube ban, so at least there might be another avenue for freedom of expression.

Ian
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