On Sunday. 4500 patriots who jammed the ‘Bostancı1 Performance Hall’ spent a very satisfying day enjoying a great organization realized by the ‘Artists Initiative’. Amongst those that made a mark on this six-hour-long marathon between 5:30 - 11:30 pm, were some of the most important artists of the country.
This ‘Grand Meeting’ was such a big event! Probably no organizer would have been able able to orchestrate an activity of this scope that involved actors, singers, poets such as Ataol Behramoğlu, Tarık Akan, Mehmet Aksoy, Nejat Yavaşoğulları, Ümit Zileli, Edip Akbayram, Genco Erkal, Timur Selçuk, Sadık Gürbüz, Kubat and numerous intellectuals. The night progressed with incredible enthusiasm...
The seeds of ‘Artists Initiative’ were sown almost a year ago when my wife and I invited eight of our artist friends over to dinner. That evening; Ataol Behramoğlu, Orhan Aydın, Levent Kırca, Edip Akbayram, Ümit Zileli, Orhan Kurtuldu, Mehmet Güleryüz and I, along with our partners discussed the state of the country. In the natural course of events we decided to realize this democratic response. The rest, the public is already knows. Actually, this statement is also exaggerated. Because in THIS COUNTRY, a ‘media organ’(!) that has the courage to convey to the public loudly enough, the intelligentsia’s criticism of those in power with reasonable justifications-at least according to them (!)- is almost non-existent.
As ‘The Artists Initiative’ regarding this night, successful beyond our expectations, I have some crucial notes: After the as encouraging opening speech delivered by Behramoğlu and performances by esteemed artists, it was my turn to speak. My most acclaimed articulation was the following: “Either we will be at it hammer and tongs and disintegrate with allocations like ‘you are a kemalist, I am a socialist; you are a social democrat, I am a trotskyist’ and then there will be no use in complaining after the elections lost again for sure, or we will become one fist, uniting around the Main Opposition party (Republican People's Party), and joining hands with the other opposing parties and NGOs, we will demolish the barricades erected in front of us. You can call this if you like, a” marriage of logic”, or of love or of passion; we are obliged to do this. We will succeed and defeat darkness at the ballot box. A lot depends on the Main Opposition: Please look no more in vain for vast horizons in waters that do not belong to us. Seek it in our waters, here in this room."
After my speech, the opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu took the stand and addressed the exuberant crowd. He stated that he received the message conveyed and added, “Common denominators should be put forward, and the denominator is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk” for which he received a long round of applause and he left after making a decided and promising speech.
Later on there was good deal of exhilarating music, superb poetry, and excerpts from plays.Then all the artists gathered around Timur Selçuk and his piano and sang songs that had the last word on why this crowd gathered there and then. This spectacular get together was backed by Kadıköy, Maltepe, Beşiktaş and Sarıyer municipalities.
There were two mishaps I would like to comment on. One was my dear friend Melike Demirağ’s reprimanding those that shouted slogans and her surprising insistence. This caused an unnecessary tension. No one, especially a person who has officially no say on the organization of the night or the weight of politics in the country in the last decades, should interfere with the slogans of such a rapturous crowd. The second one, a far more serious incident was Levent Kırca’s speech after Kılıçdaroğlu left. My estimable friend, it seems, was caught up in outdated interpretations of affairs and was not also aware of the support the crowd gave to my thoughts on the need to merge all oppositions under the leadership of the main opposition. Kırca’s claims that Kılıçtaroğlu confiscated his (Kırca’s) turn to speak and “made a propaganda of his party CHP”, with due respect, shows that he is way off target. First of all, Kılıçdaroğlu made no approach to deliver a speech nor was in the lineup. Because of our persisting insistence he put Bostancı on his agenda and came all the way from Menemen.2 When he arrived, Behramoğlu, on behalf of the Artists Initiative, asked him to deliver a speech. Secondly, in his speech he stood up for the common denominator that supported our determination ‘to become one fist’ and tackled to get the ball! Is there anything more sublime than that?
I have to admit that these are the old chronic diseases of the left and the nationalists. We no longer have time for such whims. To win the elections we are obliged to gather the votes in one basket. And this can only be achieved by giving open support to the Main Opposition, and if we need to criticize them, do it in a constructive way by putting them back into orbit. If we continue reiterating this same reprise “We are at equal distance to all parties. We don’t support anyone in particular”, our brothers and sisters will suffer more at the Silivri Penitentiaries and other houses of oppression and be exposed to torture they do not deserve. So for this reason, everyone should now watch their steps and refrain from obsolete side shows.
1 Bostancı is a neighbourhood of Kadıköy district in Istanbul.
2 Menemen is a town in the province of Izmir. İt was there that the young officer Kubilay was beheaded by religious fundamentalists, years back, on the 23rd of 1930. Every year since then, commomerations are hold there (and elsewhere) about the event.