Our Sadness is the Seed of Our Anger

Women’s Resistance and Political Graffiti

The biggest recent development in Turkish news is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announcing his candidacy for President, which will displace current President Abdullah Gül, who is rumored to have planted the seeds of his own party once he’s (possibly) booted from AKP. The mood since the local elections among the opposition is not surprising—it is comprised mostly of resignation. Few have much hope for CHP/MHP coalition candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu, a virtual unknown who is not quite conservative enough for the nationalistic MHP and far too conservative for the supposed left-wing CHP. With this in mind, I ventured to Kadiköy earlier today to take some photos of what remains of the graffiti that sprang up in huge amounts after the Gezi protests, death of Berkin Elvan, and the Soma tragedy. Although I could only spend about an hour in the area, I found that quite a lot of graffiti had been painted over or removed. And this kind of summed up the opposition’s mental fatigue; after countless defeats with not a whiff of the stalwart AKP’s power waning, the signs of resistance fade into the background. Thanks to my wonderful wife for the help with translation.

“Kadın Cinayetlerine Karşı Elibelinde” — “Hands on the waist against women’s murders”
Found on the corner leading to Bahariye. The hands on the waist is a symbol in Turkey of a woman preparing for a fight. I didn’t see any distinguishing markers other than the anarchist symbol to denote any organization, but it’s quite likely it belongs to the women’s anarchist chapter in Kadiköy.


“Çankaya’ya Halk Çikacak” — “The people will take over Cankaya”
Found on the inner wall on Bahariye perpendicular to the trolley track. Cankaya is the central metropolitan district in Ankara, Turkey’s capital. Çankaya Koşkü is where the president, Abdullah Gül, resides.


“Şiddete Karşi Anarşist Kadınlar” — “Anarchist women against violence”
Also found on Bahariye. Didn’t capture the hashtag off to the right, and can’t remember what it said, but considering the paint is the same color as the first picture and the message is virtually identical, it’s likely the same group.

“Ekmeği biz alırdık Berkin” — “We could have bought the bread, Berkin”
In reference to Berkin Elvan, the fourteen-year-old boy who was hit in the head by a gas canister during the Gezi protests and succumbed to his injuries earlier this year. Elvan was not believed to have been involved in the protests, and instead was out attempting to buy a loaf of bread when he was struck.


“Çocuklar uyurken susulur ölürken değil!” — “One keeps silent when children are sleeping, not when they’re dying.”
“Tayyip yolun yol değil” — “Tayyip, your way is not the right way”
The first is, again, in reference to Berkin Elvan. The second is general protest against Erdoğan, probably referencing his Islamist leanings.

“Isyan devrim özgürlük” — “Rebellion, revolution, freedom”


“Ekmek, adalet, özgürlük!” — “Bread, justice, freedom!”
The ‘bread’ in question could reference Berkin Elvan, though depending on how new this tag is, it could also be referencing the newest MHP/CHP candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu. People have poked fun at his first name, Ekmel, though I’m inclined to believe the DAF is talking about Elvan. The DAF is an anarchist group whose poster is in a picture below.

“Berkin Elvan kavgamizda yaşiyor!” — “Berkin Elvan lives in our fight!”
Kaldiraç is some group whose name means something akin to ‘lever.’

“Ne zaman hürlügün
barışın sevginin aşkına
bir cigara atmışsak denize
sabaha kadar yandı durdu.”

“Whenever we threw a cigarette in the sea
for the sake of freedom, peace, and love,
it kept burning until morning.”

Not sure whether LAF is an anarchist group or not, but the word itself means ‘words.’ In Turkish, it’s meant to describe words over action, a bit of mockery.

“Üzüntümüz öfkemizin tohumudur” — “Our sadness is the seed of our anger”
“Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet” — “Revolutionary Anarchist Activity”
Two propaganda posters from the DAF. These were the last of these two designs I could find, calling for people to meet in Taksim on May 1st.

While I was out I just so happened to stumble across an active protest. I haven’t seen one of this scale in quite a while. I can’t be sure if all the participants were members of the Women’s Labor Party, many women in the protest had their signs. More generally, I think it was a demonstration for all women to participate in against various issues.


“Katil tasarladı yargıtay yok saydı!” — “The murderer designed, the judge discarded!”


Black signs with white text, from left to right:
“Ataerkiye isyan” — “Rebellion against patriarchy”
“Devlete isyan” — “Rebellion against government”
“Siddete isyan” — “Rebellion against violence”
“Tecavüze isyan” — “Rebellion against rape”

“We are imprisoned in our apartments and our labor is invisible. That’s enough! We won’t vote for the representatives of the old system who exploit our labor. We invite all women to establish a new life together and to support our presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş! Women’s Labor Party”

Posters with hands, starting on the left with orange:
“Fitrat degil kader degil katliam” — “It’s not fate, it’s massacre”
“Erkek adalet degil gerçek adalet istiyoruz” — “Men are not justice, we want real justice”
“Susmuyoruz, itaat etmiyoruz, somuruye, kadin cinayetlerine, savasa isyan ediyoruz” — “We won’t be silent, we won’t abide, we rebel against exploitation, women’s murder, and war”
“Homofobik devlet yikilacak” – “The homophobic government will be destroyed”

So even if most of the graffiti that filled the city with the spirit of resistance towards an increasingly encroaching government has faded into the backdrop, the voices of the oppressed have not been silenced and will continue to come to the forefront. The women in this protest sat for a while across from the harbor disrupting traffic before picking up and heading into the marina. Though hundreds (perhaps thousands) attended, there’s not much of a peep of it in Turkish news. But no matter. People will not give in.


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