Turkish Solidarity

Photographing the protest march which started at the Turkish Embassy on Sunday it was just a little difficult to know exactly who or what I was photographing, as my knowledge of the Turkish language is zero and of Turkish history and politics only slightly greater.  And I think it is important to understand the events that I’m photographing.

For some events I receive detailed press releases, but for others such as this, all I had was a brief listing in Facebook that gave the time and the place for meeting and that they would be marching to Downing St.

Before covering events I like to do a little research, making sure I know what the event is about, and of course the Istanbul Protests – Occupy Gezi had been in the news for some weeks, and the hashtag #direngeziparki had been trending on Twitter. So I knew the broad outline of what had been happening, and a little about leading figures including the Prime Minsiter Recep Tayyip Erdogan and about the foundation of the Turkish republic in the 1920s by Kemal Ataturk, and about Kemalism and something about the changes to the constitution made by Erdogan and the AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, in English, the Justice and Development Party – a truly Orwellian name.) I’d looked up such things again before photographing a previous Turkish protest the weekend before.

This protest turned out to be dominated by the TGB, the Youth Union of Turkey described on Wikipedia as “a Turkish left-wing nationalist revolutionary youth organization founded on 19 May 2006” with strong support in Turkish universities, which “claims it advocates the principles of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Kemalism” and to be “the pre-eminent representative youth organization of Turkey.”

Among the images on banners, posters, placards and framed photographs at the protest were of course those of Kemal Ataturk (some harder to recognise than others). Erdogan was there too, in a caricature of him as Hitler, and many of the protesters also wore small paper images of two men killed in the recent protests, with their names, Abdullah Cömert and Ethem Sarisülük.

Many of the placards were in Turkish, and although I could ask what they said in English, the answers I got were not always clear, and before sending off the pictures I did check some using Web translation services. I think ‘Satilmis medya’ means ‘the media have sold out’ and ‘AKP Istifa’ is ‘AKP Resign’.

As well as the images of Ataturk and Erdogan/Hitler there were of course plenty of Turkish flags, both waved by and worn by protesters and one on the embassy itself. I spent some time trying to take a picture showing the protest and the Embassy flag, and finally did produce one, but perhaps using the wrong lens – with the 16-35 at around 28mm the flag across the road is rather small.

Later, as the march went along two sides of Parliament Square I stood on the corner as it went past to show it passing Parliament – and in particular Big Ben, that so clichéd indicator of London. There were just a few yards after the march turned into Parliament St where this becomes possible.

You can see more of my work from this march at Turks continue fight on My LondonDiary.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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