I am a master student of photography and living in Istanbul since two years. I grew up in Ankara. I was right there, when the coup happened. We were at the university to watch a movie. My mother called and told me to come home quickly. I remember the sound of the airplanes, the sirens, the police. It was quite strange since this is usually is a very calm area.
Erdoğan makes the people feel powerful, so that’s probably why he got so many votes. Since he is in power, alot changed to the good, especially for the religious and conservative people. This might be ok for them, but now they are trying to change the lifestyle of all the liberal people.
He is a good talker, maybe that’s why so many people like him. Currently there are 2 groups in turkey: Erdogans people and all the others. You could be turkish, kurdish, woman, member of the LGBTI movment or just not a fan of him – then you belong to the others. There is only pros or cons, nothing in between. He makes these two groups hate each other desperately, you can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. I have colorful hair, so they look at my like I am crazy. Erdogan tries to establish a new female stereotype. The docile woman never works or studies but stays at home and cares for her 3 kids while wearing a headscarf. But I cannot live like that. Some people admire that stereotype, these are often the ones that earn more money.
As an artist I have to care about what I am working on. Our universities have changed alot, lots of our professors got fired, the rest is scared. I have always believed in the freedom of art, but at the moment this freedom is completely gone in turkey. Actually I am working on a project that deals with the forgotten memories about the crimes on the armenians, the greeks or the jews. In my universitie they tell me: „It will be a big trouble for everyone, for you, for us – and they won’t accept your work.“ The headmaster of my university or the authorities will probably not accept my master topic. But I do not listen to them, because it is my life. Someone has to continue to work on such topics. If I would quit working on this project, they would have won.
In artschools they currently try to change your mind completly. If you do classical turkish or islamic works, you won’t get into any problems, you would be like the king of the school. But art should be free. If you are working about gender identity, ethnicities or even nude pictures, they get frightend – they can arrest you.
Many of the people who got arrested worked on journalistic topics, like demonstrations or social events. I am not kurdish, queer or any other minority – but I support them, what makes me a dangerous person, too. If they take me to prison, it would be bad. But our ideas will never change, even if they try to tear down the movement or kill us.
I don’t trust the european governments anymore, they never think about the people, only about economic interests. I believe, they cannot imagine our sorrow, our pain. I would love to talk to one of these politicans to show them the true situation here in turkey.
I am planning to move away from turkey soon. I would fight for my country, for my people – but they just don’t want it. I live my nice life here, but it is like an open prison. You cannot talk openly about your ideas and feelings, not as an artist, not as an normal citizen, not even on the streets. I have to go abroad to do my work, maybe I will come back to turkey someday. But for now I do not feel safe or free in here.