An image of a Turkish riot policeman firing tear gas at a protester during a demonstration against the destruction of trees in a park brought about by a pedestrian project, in Taksim Square in central Istanbul.
A Turkish riot policeman fires tear gas at a protester during a demonstration against the destruction of trees in Gezi park (Reuters)

Turkish film researcher and documentary maker Nagehan Uskan has sent this letter to inform friends outside the country about the situation in Turkey after anti-government protests swept through the country's biggest cities.

Dear friends,

What's going on here? It's not so short as to be summed up in a paragraph but we hope that a small recap will serve the purpose.

It all started with a peaceful demonstration to protect Gezi Park in Taksim (the heart of the city).

Not only it is one of the few parks left in the city, but the new "owner" - who wanted to destroy it to build a shopping mall - and the police did not follow the correct legal procedure.

Heavy urban conversion, always in favour with the government's followers and the capitalists, was not bearable any more in Istanbul. The fight for the park has spread a common awareness: for a long time, the government pretended everything was OK, preventing people from expressing their opinions and occupying public spaces; police violence has become more significant and breathing teargas is now part of our daily life.

May 1, instead of being a festivity day, was an occasion for fascist violence. Alcohol restrictions sparked hatred in many people.

The reaction cannot be limited to a single political party or a group of activists. In the streets and on the corners of Turkey we are all there. For the first time, many people participate in collective action and protests. For the first time it is a "we". This movement has united everyone and started from the sensitivity born of protecting a tree and a public space. We feel a deep resistance and a solidarity that should be respected.

As we keep saying: "Today, we are all someone new."

Perhaps the beginning was Gezi Park, which is our emblem, but now it is a movement spread through all Turkey. We are numerous and we are against this fascist government.

The Turkish media remains silent! They ignore [facts] and are ignored [by the people]. [Prime Minister Recep Tayyp] Erdogan made a public announcement where he said that all demonstrators are vandals and small fringe groups.

In this moment it is difficult to predict what will happen. The situation is serious and police violence is not diminishing but our resistance continues and is every day stronger.

How do we feel? Don't worry - we've never felt so good.

It will get better.


Nagehan Uskan & Deniz Mardin