Category Archives: Social Issues

We refuse to pay 150 Dram for transport!- And Other Protests

Armenia is a country of protests; daily protests that take place all around the capital, particularly near the Opera and on the main streets with the embassies and government buildings. Within a few days, I saw 3 protests and took part in 2 of them.

The 1st was in front of the Russian embassy, where we were herded to the side, out of the officials’ view, against the inhumane treatment of an Armenian detainee accused of causing the deaths of 18 and the injury of 48 others. His lorry had experienced problems, possibly with the brakes or possibly with the tires, and turned over before crashing into a bus full of people. The Armenian driver of the lorry was taken to the hospital and given a woman’s robe before being paraded around in this during the court hearing, alongside being imprisoned while embarrassingly still wearing the robe and slippers.


The 2nd protest was near the Opera, against the low pensions that war veterans receive today. The amount is truly pitiable, an extremely low step taken by our oligarchical government. War veterans receive 30-50,000 drams, between $75 and $125 a month. Boggles my mind how one can expect another to live with such a measly amount. 20130721_202938 20130721_202957 20130721_202950

The third protest I so enthusiastically took part in began before the parliament building and our march took us from street to street until we were on some of the busiest ones. Here, we stopped the buses, removed any signs that indicated the pay to now be 150 drams, and stuck all over the transports flyers and pictures that condemned the raising of the prices and demanded we all pay the original fare of 100 drams. 100 drams is just about 23-27 cents, depending on the exchange rate. There were buses that had refused to increase the fare and taxis about which would take people to certain places for free. We got honks of support and cheers of approval. We increased our numbers as we walked and cried out at every corner that we, and only we, can protect our own rights. People joined as we walked by, store owners peeked out and stood on their doorsteps to watch or cheer on their support, and the people standing at every stop were encouraged to follow example and refuse to pay the new amount.

Together, with the whole country doing the same thing, we can make a difference. In Armenia, you ride the bus and pay at the end. As such, each and every citizen is encouraged to pay 100 drams before jumping out, encouraging those around them to do the same. Let’s drop this guise of a sheep and stand up tall with head held high. The people hold the power, they just need to realize that it lies in their collective strength!


“Sex as a police punishment”- Article about Police Brutalities in Turkey Today


What you will read below is extremely disturbing. It is the firsthand impressions of a Boğaziçi (Bosphorus) University student who was detained by police in connection with the Gezi Park incidents in Istanbul.

We, as a generation, grew up in an atmosphere of state brutality, when most of the time sex crimes were part of the torture process during military regimes. Horrible stories and horrible statements were heard. One example is the unforgettable self-confession of a retired general of the September 12 regime. He said, “When I have rock-hard young men at my service, why should I use batons?” when he was asked about torture done with batons… He was arguing that it did not happen, why he should use the baton, when he had other weapons…

Daily News Photo, Emrah Gürel

That was the 1980s. We thought those days were over… Now, it is 33 years later. We live in the age of limitless, endless information exchange where nothing can be hidden… When everything is documented, police brutality is filmed, recorded, not tolerated, unless encouraged by dark-minded administrators…

I will not go on discussing how pathetic a man can be when he uses his sexual skills as a punishment for the other sex. How pathetic it is for him to see sex as punishment… We can discuss that later.

The entry you will read below came through the Internet. It was on the Facebook page of the person narrating. It was also in Hürriyet columnist Yalçın Bayer’s web version of his column. It was sent to Yalçın Bayer by Professor Işık Aytaç, again from Bosphorus University, as the account of her student Erkan Yolalan, who shared his story on his Facebook page.

Erkan Yolalan first thanks everybody who has assisted him, especially to those who fetched him a lawyer.
Here is his story:

“I am at home, I’m fine. I want to write what I went through. My only aim is that everybody knows what is being experienced while in detention. I have no other aim; I want to say that at the beginning. I will write all of the events that happened to me from the beginning and with all swear words and insults included. With all its openness…

“Last night (June 3, 2013) around 9 p.m. I was detained in Beşiktaş, at traffic lights on Barbaros Avenue. I was not involved in any action like swearing or throwing stones. They took me in bending my arm the moment they saw me. Some friends of mine saw on TV how I was taken into custody. Then hell began.

“After crossing the lights in the direction of the seaside, while I was at the edge of the platform where the IETT bus stops are at the seaside, any policeman who was there and any riot police squad member (çevik kuvvet) who saw me started kicking and punching me. For about 100-150 meters, in other words, all the way to the Kadıköy ferry station, whoever was present there was kicking and punching. Insults and curses such as ‘Are you the ones to save this country, mother f***, sons of ****,’ never ended. I could not count how many people hit me before I reached the detention bus.

“Just as I was taken near the buses, a few policemen called from behind a bus, ‘Bring him here.’ They took me behind the bus and started kicking and punching me there. I learned later that because of the cameras they took me behind the bus to beat me.

“When I was inside the detention bus (İETT) the lights were out, and I heard a girl’s voice begging inside the bus: ‘I did not do anything, sir.’ I could not even see who was hitting me as I was taken inside the bus and after I was in the bus. The only thing I was able to do in the dark was to cover my head. Curses and insults continued. I sat. Everyone who was passing near me was hitting me. I got up and went to a corner. They wanted me to take a seat again. I told them everyone who passed by was hitting me when I was seated.

They again swore, slapped and punched me and made me sit.

“They were hitting the girl and throttling her. A civilian policeman whose name is İsmail said exactly this to the girl, ‘I will bend you over and f*** you right now.’ [He – Erkan Yolalan- later added that this policeman İsmail also said, “Now that it is dark and the lights are off I will ****”]

“And the response of the girl was heartbreaking. With a low voice, she could only say ‘Yes, sir.’
“And next, we, the three people present at the bus, were forced to shout: ‘I love the Turkish police. I love my country.’ They made us yell this again and again ordered us to make it ‘louder, louder.’ The insults and beating did not come to an end.

“The atmosphere seemed a bit calmer, but this time they brought another young person. The guy’s nose was broken. When I asked him why he didn’t protect his face, he told me ‘Two people held me by force and a third person punched my nose three times.’ From time to time there were others brought in.

“A young person named Mustafa from Bahçeşehir University was brought then. Twenty policemen from the riot squad had attacked him, and he looked too weak even to stand up. Slapping and punching him near the detention bus was not enough for them, they hit his head with a helmet. That was not enough either, they hit his head on the bus window. They took him inside the bus while continuously hitting him. His hands were cuffed from behind; his head was bleeding; they made him sit on the floor.

“We saw his head bleeding. I went near him and held a cloth (the bloody t-shirt of the guy whose nose was broken) to his wound to stop the bleeding. This police named Süleyman cursed at me and told me to ‘f*** off’ to my seat. I told him, ‘He is bleeding.’ He said, ‘He can bleed.’ He did not care at all. They were holding the guy in handcuffs with all his injuries. We pointed that out to a couple of policemen. Finally, one of them opened the cuffs.

“Actually the second heartbreaking incident happened when we were at the police station for statements. Mustafa asked me this: ‘Did they hit me at the bus? What happened?’ The guy could not remember. He was not fully conscious while he was on the bus.

“As a last point, we could not go to the toilet while we were at the bus. They only gave us a bottle of water. Then we were taken to the hospital for doctor’s reports and then to the police station.

“Once we were at the police station, an army of lawyers was waiting for us. And the policemen now were talking to us on polite terms.

“I want to thank all the lawyers, all our friends who called the lawyers and everybody who was worried about us. There is not a bit of an exaggeration in this piece. Everything that has been experienced is true and my only aim is for everybody to hear it firsthand.

Revolt against brutality is continuing. This fascist order will be destroyed.”

New Information: This story was at Parliament today, June 6. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Antalya deputy Yıldıray Sapan spoke in Parliament. He referred in short to this incident and demanded that this civilian police officer be found. Sapan also asked how the prime minister, Arınç or the interior minister would feel if such words were said to their daughters, wives, sisters or any other person they know.

I want that policeman to be found also. And the others.

Note to international readers: Do you know what will happen? This person Erkan will be terrorized with scores of lawsuits filed against him by the policemen in question, all testifying that he attacked them first. The public prosecutor will process these cases much faster, even before the cases against them begin. Collecting the evidence will take ages. The guy and all the others on that detention bus and any others testifying for him will be found guilty and will be given jail sentences. Earmark this paragraph for future reference.

Youth Interview Taner Akcam

I was sitting in a forum interview with Taner Akcam at the Armenian Community Center. This was written at the time of the event, outlining both the subjects of genocide and Hrant Dink.
He has been called in for a weekend of events to commemorate the 6th anniversary of Hrant Dink’s brutal murder, who was shot from the back by a member of Ergenekon, a young man lightly praised at the time, angering the people, both Armenians and Turks. We still haven’t discovered all those behind this brutal murder, the perpetrators part of an organization with roots deeper than the Ergenekon, according to Akcam.
Dink was well known among the Armenian population of Turkey, but his greatest achievement lay in making Armenians known to the Turks. Akcam outlines what Dink’s general philosophy was- “he was an armenian, but also a citizen of Turkey.” Dink simply wanted peace.
Turkey’s general society is rather used to assassinations. Hundreds, if not thousands have fallen needlessly through such disturbing means. It is, however, the first time that an Armenian was assassinated for insulting Turkishness and thousands stood up in response. It is the first time that year after year the people stand up continuously in memory of this man. It is the first time that the common Turkish citizen cries out against the injustice of such senseless killings, the barbarity of such massacres.Hrant’s success as a martyr lies in his ability to touch the people’s hearts. He has left behind a legacy that might make him into the Martin Luther King of Turkey. The youth are questioning their government and the lies they are fed. People around Turkey respond to the issue of genocide, often not as vehemently denying the issue as they used to.Akcam is asked about the commemorations of the genocide and the effectiveness of the traditional methods. His response: Go to Istanbul and observe from the inside on that day or bring one of the young activists in the anti-racism grassroots movements to change things up and bring in some excitement, a different perspective to stir the pot a little.

When asked about the historians’ commissions and the effectiveness of this, Akcam replies that it is not only inefficient but utterly counterproductive so long as both people retain their uncompromising mindsets. Dink believed instead in the opening of borders, his theory being that the issues between our peoples would be solved near immediately. What separates us as a people and feeds into the anger and pain we have smoldering within our hearts is the lack of understanding between the populations. No one can belittle the enormity of the crimes in the past, but there is no reason to continue this silent warfare to this day.

We should be focusing on working with the Turkish domestic opposition to further our cause and solve pertinent issues. While the diaspora has influence, it requires many messengers in between in order to place enough pressure on Turkey to make any small change or give in to any small demand. Instead of trying to hold our ears with the opposite hand, as the saying goes, we should take the direct route and attack through the surest points to ensure justice prevails in the end.

“Justice without democracy is not possible and democracy is not possible without justice”- Taner Akcam

A Curious Discovery- I Wonder if There’ll be an Azerbaijani V

Dystopian fiction novels have been documenting worlds in which fascist totalitarian governments take over known world communities in the wake of cataclysmic events leading to the mass destruction of large populations. Whether it’s because of a Nuclear War as in “The Crysalids”  or a Big Brother society established like in “1984,” these classic literature pieces are both terrifying and forewarning. Imagine “Brave New World” come to life, wherein consumerism makes the world go round and families are nonexistent. What if we were in a dark and dreary place “The Giver” presents to us? My latest obsession is with “V for Vendetta” and the ideas of freedom it represents.

Funny enough, Aliyev’s rant on twitter a few hours ago reminds me of Adam Susan’s speech in the comic series:

Susan’s speech:
My name is Adam Susan. I am the leader. 
Leader of the lost, ruler of the ruins. I am a man, like any other man. I lead the country that I love out of the wilderness of the twentieth century. I believe in survival. In the destiny of the Nordic race. I believe in fascism. Oh yes, I am a fascist. What of it? Fascism…a word. A word whose meaning has been lost in the bleatings of the weak and the treacherous. The Romans invented fascism. A bundle of bound twigs was its symbol. One twig could be broken. A bundle would prevail. Fascism…strength in unity. I believe in strength. I believe in unity. And if that strength, that unity of purpose, demands a uniformity of thought, word and deed then so be it. I will not hear talk of freedom. I will not hear talk of individual liberty. They are luxuries. I do not believe in luxuries. The war put paid to luxury. The war put paid to freedom. The only freedom left to my people is the freedom to starve. The freedom to die, the freedom to live in a world of chaos. Should I allow them that freedom? I think not. I think not. Do I deserve for myself the freedom I deny to others? I do not. I sit here within my cage and I am but a servant. I, who am master of all that I see I see desolation. I see ashes. I have so very much. I have so very little. I am not loved, I know that. Not in soul or body. I have never known the soft whisper of endearment. Never known the peace that lies between the thighs of woman. But I am respected. I am feared. And that will suffice…

Samples of Aliyev’s tweets can be found here:

The world’s best comedian is what I call him. Should he not have had money and oil to offer the world, he’d be the laughingstock of every country. This is not to say that he isn’t already, for his words inspire such mirth, but a tactful diplomacy is utilized in order to keep that money and oil in the pockets of those who crave it most, though most definitely don’t need it. He seems to believe his ludicrous claims, his idea of uniformity of thought becoming the focus of every step he seems to take. Institutionalized lies have taken over, poisoning the education of young minds and twisting the mentality of all generations. Hatred is fostered, ethnocentrism becomes the doctrine and in all this, the state is portrayed as one of equality, tolerance and democracy. The sheer hypocrisy of the system is laughable, while the forced ignorance of the people is utterly pitiable.

I wonder, will this manner of governance inspire revolutionaries like V to rise up and dismantle this system?

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November,
the gunpowder treason and plot.
I know of no reason
why the gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.”