There are thousands of people standing around in Turkey.
it is a bold political statement.
Here’s one more amazing feature about the social protests in Turkey: the adaptability.
The police have shot down the protests in Taksim Square?
The protestors retreated back to Gezi Park.
The police moved in and removed the tents?
The protestors have reorganized.
They are standing up for what they believe in….by standing up.
Here is one of the ways in which we see the emergence of a civil disobedience campaign right before our eyes.
It started out simply, by one performance artist named Erdem Gündüz standing in the middle of Taksim Square for hours, and staring blankly ahead.
The police were unsure of what to do with him, whether to leave him alone, to bother him, arrest him.
But after all, he wasn’t “doing” anything.
So they left him alone.
Then one by one, people joined in.
And now we have a new movement, of people standing up for what’s right, for what they believe in, by standing up for what’s right.
It is disarming, in an ingenious way. It removes any accusation of the protestors being violent, or using Molotov cocktails, or any such excuse that could be used to justify inflicting more violence on them. After all, how ridiculous does the police look if they are arresting (on social media) people who are simply standing there? This ridiculous.
And the movement is being covered by international media that’s fascinated by this new form of civil disobedience.
It is tempting, given the individualistic and story-driven nature of corporate media to make this a story about that performance artist. And it would be a mistake. Turkish activists themselves insist that this is not about one man, but rather about people who are standing up: Duran adam , with the inevitable hashtag: #duranadam.
The report about the Duran Adam started appearing on social media, and now there is a collective movement of people standing up for their own rights.
Civil disobedience is a powerful tool, which exposes the hypocrisy of brutality.
It was true in the American civil rights era, and it is true for the Standing Human Beings of Turkey.
Alexander Hamilton said: “’Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”
Malcolm X reminded us: “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”
Dr. King said: “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.”
So yes, friends in Turkey…
Straighten your back, and stand for something worthy…your own rights.
The world is watching, and if your method is as beautiful as your ideal, the world is with you.
Let’s hear it for the human beings in Turkey, who are Standing Up.
Here are a few interesting updates about this story: It seems that in 2004, Erdem Gündüz (a man) wore headcovering in a Turkish university to protest the law that banned head covers in universities.
An even more interesting update is that there are reports that the tactics of civil disobedience are now being utilized by the police as well as supporters of the AKP, who have staged their own reading/standing protests across from the Standing Man. If these reports are accurate, it is a victory for all sides, as it shows how these strategies–rather than tear gas or water cannons–are mitigating social discourse.
Images are from the Duran Adam page on Facebook, except for the reading standing demonstration, which is from Christy Gruber.