We decided to bring the guys from OccupygeziRadio, the voice of the Turkish protests, up to the mic today for an interview. The young trio is London-based, each with his or her own experience of how the horror has started, their worries and fears, and the goals guiding them to create the show. From London to Istanbul, Occupygeziradio is constructing a connecting bridge of stories and human acts. Here’s what these guys told us:
Where are you based and how do you contact people from Turkey?
Cagla: We’re based in London. And using our Facebook and Twitter accounts, we’re calling people to be volunteer for English interviews via Skype. Also, all of our friends are helping us contact people who want to share their own words. There is great teamwork and communication with them.
Why did you choose to do a live podcast?
Ege: Because the media’s response in Turkey was unbearable. I felt I couldn’t breathe, literally.
Cagla: On the 1st of June, we organised a march and protest in Hyde Park. But when we went back home, I felt like we needed to do more. Because of the media ban, people were so desparete there. We thought we needed to share all those stories with the rest of the world. I asked Aybuke to find out, how we could create an online radio. So she created the account, and ever since Sunday morning, our full-time job is this radio.
Aybuke: On the second night of the events, I had a call from Skype from someone I do not know, and found out that he was was trapped under police attack, along with his friends, two of whom were wounded. He said he could not reach out to anybody and his battery was dying. So, I shared that on our social media channels, and some help was directed towards them. They were rescued in the end, you can also find his recording on our broadcasting channel (Ozkan, 19). After that, my friends here contacted me saying they are planning to create an online radio and broadcast calls with individuals in Turkey. This is how it started…and they have been taking calls and broadcasting continuously ever since. All the young people who use internet the most are out on the street, some of them are sharing videos, some of them are doing live broadcasts of the terrible scenes with mobile cameras. We thought that it would be easier to call people and listen. When we considered the fact that government based internet providers have prohibited access to Twitter and Facebook, which is used in Turkey now as a communication channel to direct lawyers and doctors wherever needed, the only option left was talking on the phone.
Do you think that newspapers are giving a distorted version of what’s actually going on?
Cagla: As we all know, even the journalists have their own ideas and own ideologies. So how can you expect any comment to be objective? The only true scene is the individual’s story. This is what I believe.
Aybuke: Oh I really do, especially in London. I was reading the Metro newspaper yesterday and could not believe it. It was showing all those peaceful protesters as a threat to governmental party buildings and the Turkish Grand National Assembly, indicating that the police are trying to protect the president’s house, etc. Those protestors are cleaning the whole area first thing in the morning until the next attack. No one has lost cell phones, and if someone finds a cell phone, they do everything they can to return it to the owner. You cannot expect any dangerous attack from the original peaceful protesters. I call it “original”, because there are provokers doing crime for sure, but, thanks to Hayden Smith today, he made it clearer on Metro news.
How do you try to amplify Turkish voices on the web?
Ege: To reach out as many people as possible. Also we’re contacting international media through their email addresses, telling about our radio and why we’re doing this.
Aybuke: I have seen some graphics on the overall usage of Twitter in the last 5 days showing increasing usage in Turkey. The silencing of Turkish media has led us into using all kind of online communication tools. Spending all day on those channels and trying to stay united is what we are trying to do. With the great work of my friends doing all the broadcasting, online radio is helping a lot.
Have you contacted any organizations or journalists to inform them of your podcast?
Cagla: Actually not directly, but I am using my own Twitter account to tweet them about our radio channel. Also, what we realized on the second day of the radio, giving the entire link was too long. Then Ege created www.occupygeziradio.com and processed Spreaker’s link there.
Aybuke: We are spreading it through Twitter and Facebook and unfortunately Turkish media has been silent until now, only Halk TV is broadcasting. It is penguin documentaries on Turkish TVs. Protesters brought teddy penguins with themselves to Gezi park, to attract their attention. Yesterday, when protests were directed to media buildings, some channels had to give it on the news. But newspapers, they are all about magazines etc. So we did not have any collaborating media or individuals working for those media channels.
Have you had any bad experiences in the last few days? Threats, offenses?
Ege: Just one anonymous stalker.
Cagla: Me, personally; I feel so much fear sometimes. Because I have no idea what’s going to happen to us really. This is my human reaction, not political one. Also, I am not any political party member. Just non-politically minded. But, because I’m using my own Twitter account to reach people, that is making me afraid sometimes, but when I receive texts from my own boyfriend or from my best friend, I just forget all this fear. And keep having interviews.
How are you going to plan activities for the upcoming days?
Ege: The goal is clear, spread the voices in Turkey internationally. The radio will be on as long as they have things to share.
Cagla: For two days, we cannot concentrate on anything else but radio, which is the same feeling as all Turkish people all around the world. Now, we’re following social media, trying to learn what’s happening there and trying to reach people who want to share their words.
Aybuke: More than a plan, we expect something from our president. We expect him to listen to us and take this act seriously instead of blaming and calling us “looters.” He should be sending peaceful messages and should give some hope, as well as any kind of solution to this. And most importantly, he should immediately pull back the police force which is getting worse and worse each day, using unheard of chemicals on people.
What message would you like to share with the community?
Cagla: There can be political ideas and this rage must come to an end as soon as possible. But these individual stories, how they are going to forget this? The foreign student in Ankara, how he is going to forget the screams? Or last night, someone died in Hatay. What about his mother? I cannot understand. Maybe I am too emotional, I don’t know. Just share this podcast with the entire world. They will understand.
Aybuke: I know that some “more civilized” parts of the world have gone through all of these many, many years ago. We have gone through a great war 90 years ago to protect our country, but this is the first time we are in a war to protect our freedom and free will within the country. My message to the Turkish community is that they should continue to keep this peaceful, and should stay away from provocative acts. Sooner or later, the government will take it into consideration. And I’d like to congratulate them. On the other hand, my message to the rest of the world; those who have experienced this hundreds of years ago, why don’t you help us survive this with your experiences, and today’s communication/information technologies, why choose to neglect and ignore? And those who have not experienced this, one day it will hit you too… Stay with us, support us, and you’ll learn how to keep your future safe.
To contact contact the trio and share their stories and comments, just follow these links for their Twitter accounts. Good luck guys!
Cagla Cakir: twitter.com/caglacakr
Ege Akpinar: twitter.com/egeakpinar
Aybuke Kini: twitter.com/aabuke