It was early in the morning. I was making coffee and getting ready for work. A headline caught my attention: “We will eventually construct the artillery barracks at Gezi Park!” said the president of Turkey Erdoğan three years after the Gezi Park Protests.
Just after few minutes, I received an email from Allan Wright sending my badge for ‘The Best New Wine Blog’ and inviting me to the Wine Bloggers Conference in August. I felt extremely happy with this amazing news. However, at that moment, I suddenly realized that this actually meant much more than just an award. I started thinking about the beginning of Summer 2013. [For those who do not recall, in summer 2013, thousands took to the streets to protest cutting the trees in Gezi Park as well as the government’s repressive policies. (AKP; Justice and Development Party) The police forces reacted violently and many people were seriously injured and some lost their lives.] I remembered the days that I carried a gas mask and a yellow hard hat in my bag and a green book in my hand as I was getting ready for Wine and Spirits Education – Level 3 Certificate! I was spending some evenings at Gezi Park, studying for my upcoming exam, regularly interrupted by gas bombs.
“It was the best of the times, it was the worst of the times” as Charles Dickens says. We were out there at the park, asking for freedom of speech and freedom of press. We were out there for the same purpose, regardless of our origin. We were Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian. We were discussing political issues, reading books, studying, singing, dancing. On the other hand, it was the first time we actually faced violence. During those weeks, many of us got injured and even lost many dear friends.
Time has passed. I passed my Wset Level 3 Exam and continued my education. We managed to save the trees at Gezi Park and did not let them construct an artillery barracks or a shopping mall. However, our war for freedom is still not over. Today, when I had a look at the badge Allan sent me, it feels more like a symbol to me. I am a young Turkish woman, who studied for her first serious wine exam during Gezi Protests. Ironically, this was also the same period when all alcohol marketing activities became forbidden in Turkey. I continued my career against all odds. With this award, I feel proud, but not only proud of myself. I feel proud because I know that there are many people out there, working hard in strict repressive conditions in many different fields in Turkey, thriving for success.
Today, I want to say cheers, to every single person who were at Gezi Park in Summer 2013!
Cheers to those lovely people who dedicated their lives to make or sell wine in Turkey in such tough conditions!
Cheers to all artists, writers, actors, ballerinas, academicians and many others who have been going through hard times and not being able to perform their jobs.
Cheers to everyone who believes in the spirit of Gezi and all those talented people in this country, working harder than ever to survive to create something beautiful for the good of the humanity.