Category Archives: Istanbul

Jabs up to date? – better be, legacies of global beneficence and payback owed by anti-vaxxers.

This from Amiya Kumar Bagchi (2005: 86):

‘Inoculation against smallpox, a major killer in Europe up to the middle of the nineteenth century, was a practice imported from Ottoman Turkey. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu described the procedure for inoculation in England in a 1717 letter (Poner 1995). Inoculation was thereafter widely introduced in many parts of northern and western Europe and, as Jennerian vaccination, became part of the public health system by the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth. This practice substantially reduced infant mortality, especially in the Scandinavian countries’


Gah. Still. No. Change.

>Subject: Call for solidarity for the academics for peace on trial

Dear colleagues,

Our colleagues in Turkey are facing incredible repression under a populist leader. This is part of a wider, global trend where academic and speech freedoms have increasingly been stifled due to neoliberalism and authoritarianism. I hope you can spread this call below widely and show your solidarity by following and publicizing peace academics’ court hearings that are scheduled to begin soon. Kind regards.
Call for solidarity for the academics for peace on trial

Violations of academic freedom and freedom of speech in Turkey have reached a dire situation.  The intimidations from Turkish government and its affiliates toward academics have escalated to legal action, whereby peace signatory academics face 7.5 years’ imprisonment if convicted for “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.”

In January 2016, 1128 academics signed the Peace Petition, titled ‘We Will Not Be A Party To This Crime’ in order to draw the public’s attention to the brutal acts of violence perpetrated by the state in the Kurdish regions of Turkey.  Immediately after the release of the petition, many signatories were prosecuted, dismissed from their posts, and their citizenship rights were seized. A large number of academics including Nobel Prize laureates and members of major science academies around the world initiated a support campaign nationally and internationally. People from different professions, such as journalists, artists, screen actors and actresses, and writers voiced their support for the persecuted academics. More people signed the petition, yet the suppression on the signatory academics got fiercer; hundreds of more academics were dismissed with statutory decrees, their passports were confiscated, they were banned from public sector employment, and criminal investigations were launched. Many of those academics had to leave the country and are now facing extreme difficulties in resettling their lives and professions. One of the signatory academics –Mehmet Fatih Traş– could not stand this injustice and committed suicide. The declaration of state of emergency in July 2016 after a military coup attempt further blurred the distinction between criminal investigations and political punishment, and opened an arduous and painful avenue for not only the academics but also for journalists, writers, teachers, artists and others who demand freedom of speech in Turkey.

The signatory academics abroad have recently initiated a targeted boycott towards the Turkish higher education system, and its complicit universities. The aim of the academic boycott is to ensure that all dismissals are revoked and the persecution of academics, exacerbated under the state of emergency regime, is ended. To this boycott, and continuous struggle of Academics for Peace, the government recently responded by a harsher strategy: signatory academics are sued on an individual basis based on the accusation of terror propaganda according to the Law on Struggle against Terrorism, Article 7/2. The public prosecutor proposes imprisonment extending to 7.5 years. The number of academics with indictments is increasing day by day, and their trials start on December 5, 2017.

Since the petition, one of the most important acts of support for the academics who demanded peace has been the solidarity from colleagues who are not content with Turkey’s oppressive regime and its fatal actions on freedom of speech. In this new turn, we are well aware that we will need a stronger voice of resistance and call for justice! This solidarity can be through standing by us in the court hearings starting December 5, 2017, sending monitoring teams, observers, and news-makers; spreading the word and raising the awareness for what is happening now in Turkey regarding the academics.

In order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted academics, we, the peace academics from North America, call on you to:

1. Share and spread this call for solidarity; show your solidarity by following the trials,
commenting on them in your blogs, social media and/or writing a news article. For more
info on the latest attacks on academics in Turkey, please visit <><> or
2. Contact<> if you want to attend the trials as an observer, or
write to a human rights organization to send a delegate;
3. Sign the petition to support the
targeted boycott on complicit universities in Turkey;
4. Inform your professional organizations and university senate to take action against
complicit institutions, such as The Scientific and Technological Research Council of
Turkey (TUBITAK;<>);
5. Support dismissed scholars financially by donating to the education union that supports

This call can also be accessed via this link for posting on social media:



Nuh Köklü. Statement from Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması.


Can a snowball hurt you?


‘This ought to be a dream’ – Nuh Köklü’s dying words, after he was stabbed by a shopkeeper. The shop-keeper’s window had been hit by a snowball.

On Tuesday night, February 17th 2015, Nuh and his friends were taking part in a protest against the Internal Security package, which is in the process of being legislated by the AKP government. The Internal Security package threatens the democratic life of people, those who are not on the side of the AKP, by giving the police powers to counter unarmed protesters with live ammunition, and other measures.

The protest was not large – it was cold, peaceful, there were women in masquerade masks dancing, singing songs, talking. Amongst them was Nuh Köklü with his girlfriend and comrades from Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması and Forza Yeldeğirmeni – local organisations, formed out of the Gezi-Park movement. Nearby a water cannon and a gang of police, greater in number than the protesters, ready to intervene – obviously they were expecting a much bigger protest, and therefore awkwardly standing around.

This took place in Kadıköy district of Istanbul, and afterwards Nuh and his friends were walking home, happy about the joyful and peaceful action, excited by the snow falling in thick flakes, they engaged in a playful snowball fight. The fun was suddenly stopped by a loud voice. The owner of a spice shop, his window hit – but undamaged – by a snowball, told Nuh and his friends to stop. ‘How dare they have a snowfight in the street near his shop’. Although the snowball hadn’t even left a trace on his window, the shopkeeper was furious.

Nuh and his friends were trying to calm the shopkeeper down, but he got more aggressive, swearing at the women of the group. This of course as everyone knows nowadays is a sensitive topic after the brutal murder of Özgecan the week before and the respective protests and comments of the President on equality and more. Next thing the shopkeeper took out a baseball bat from his shop, throwing himself at the surprised group. The group managed to take the bat from the shopkeeper’s hands, still trying to calm him down, ready to leave, but the shopkeeper got a breadknife from his store and advanced upon anyone in reach. A woman narrowly managed to duck from his knife, another friend of Nuh’s saved himself by throwing himself backwards, letting the knife only cut his coat. When the shopkeeper trapped a third person in a corner, chasing him around a rubbish bin, Nuh hit him from behind, but slipped on the snow and fell. The shopkeeper turned around and stabbed Nuh. Nuh stumbled away and his friends gathered around him, calling an ambulance, trying to stop the blood.

But the situation was far from finished. The shopkeeper didn’t seem to be surprised or shocked about what he had done, and continued to attack the people around him, shouting the words: ‘I have a psychology report, I will not be arrested and am going to walk free tomorrow.’ Then he retreated to his shop, washed the knife, talked on his phone, grinning self-confidently out through his window. By then Nuh was on the way to the hospital in a taxi, since neither ambulance nor police had arrived. When the shopkeeper came out of his shop again and was still aggressive against the gathering crowd of 150 people, he was restrained by the police.

Nuh Köklü died in hospital. His friends were questioned by the police. The shopkeeper was arrested. But still this terrible story is far from finished. During the questioning the police position towards the incident became clear and was expressed by some parts of the media the next day. The incident was portrayed as if a leftist group had provoked the shopkeeper, smashing his window, and the shop-keeper had stabbed Nuh in defence.

Nuh’s friends and their community are now beside themselves in grief. Organising commemorations and related events for Nuh, as well as insisting upon a true depiction of the incident and a just prosecution of the shopkeeper.

Security camera footage from the ATM by the shop is now unavailable, all that lawyers and the public can see is a recording from a student, showing Nuh defensively confronting the shopkeeper.

In Turkey today, Nuh is dead, our tears freeze in the cold, and the shopkeeper is comforted by a slogan of President Erdoğan, which says: ‘My local shopkeeper is soldier, police and judge, if necessary’

A snowball ended a life. A dream turned into a nightmare. But the ultimate responsibility for this lies with a government which encourages action, and even legislates police powers, which legitimizes aggression against anyone with a point of view that does not conform. This aggression not only stops playful fun in the snow, but also suppresses the aspirations of an entire generation – a generation able to see life in a society like this as a dream. A generation that wants to stay alive to dream a better world.

Let us support these people, let us remember Nuh Köklü, let us fight for just punishment of the murderer, let us throw snowballs at each other, not knives, water-cannon or bullets.

Please repost. Send consolidations, tweets, comments, pictures, anything related #NuhKöklü

Contact Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması via

Frozen tears.

It is stupid that someone can die from a snowball. A snowball cannot break a window, but it can break a heart.

I hang onto the idea that Nuh died at the height of something great, if small – just 30 minutes earlier the demo, singing revolutionary songs, dancing in the street.

There is more to say on this, but I don’t know if I can think of it yet. It is too early… But I am trying to make sense of how all politics seems to become stupid – the incident with the University Dean who had to resign because he mocked the Turkish army uniform that looks like a bathrobe, which does not seem that different to the madness of duck pond expenses scandal in the UK, or the hanging chad electoral scam for Bush in Florida. As if the stupidity of politics was making its point by mocking us. Absurd and terrible. Dead for a snowball fight.

Nuh died a few streets away. I don’t think there was a direct connection with the protest we had just left, but there is a strong link to the issues. It really was a joyous protest, with several of the woman protesting in masquerade masks in the snow. So, there is a sense that the fun of the protest spilled over into exuberance on the way home. The shopkeeper – a kind of deli/drinks/snacks/spice store owner is, according to one who runs the cafe I often sit in, a ‘crazy rich guy’ who owns a local shops, he had offered to rent premises to the cafe, but then jacked the price up massively between agreement and start of lease. So, even though I don’t know for sure, and the issue of psychosis is real, I do think this has some wider connection to the gerneral relations between youth and shopkeepers in the context of urban life and changes introduced by government authority – the snowball fight was a bit of fun that was considered disruptive by the shopkeeper type.

My friend Enis says this is some sort of conflict related to sexual repression. A part of the problem was the robust reaction of young men and women – after a demo about the Security legislation and just days after a terrible murder-rape remember – who politely but without backing down, affirmed their right to have fun in the street. A snowball fight met with baseball bats, and then escalating to a knife. Yeldegirmeni Dayanismasi are proud of their formation in Gezi and their sense of local community. So are the shopkeepers, but in a conservative patriarchal way.
A snowball hits a shop window.

The day after Nuh died there was a vigil. All through wednesday, and in the evening thousands of people packed the street to mourn for Lun. It was so sad and so cold for those standing on vigil all day, the comrades support each other but have lost their friend and only want him back. I found that frozen tears are an actual thing.

A mournful song was sung – the whole crowd singing in driving snow. Really heavy snow.

After the crowd had moved off, the windows of the shop were smashed in anger. Despite their grief, anger, loss and cold, women from Yeldeğirmeni formed a line across the front of the shop to stop it being looted in front of the cameras.

What to say to them? I did not speak to them more because they have plenty to cope with and do not need to be looking after some English-speaking whatever looking about trying to understand things from outside.

But I am standing there lost and alone among many people I care about. Trying to understand what I cannot understand. Trying to think of how this fits a wider pattern. Both these killings, Özgecan, Lun, have been in part about assuming a right to the street/space coming up against the conservative patriarchal Government-backed petty bourgeoisie and its control of space. Can we say a kind of civil war is going on? – of which the Gezi protests were a part I guess – why does the government encourage a civil war, the brutalisation of people, the desecration of life

Surely we don’t want to scrabble desperately to find a political angle for a stupid thing, but the stupid things are the shape of politics today. At the same time on tuesday night in the parliament the politicians were bashing each other with the speakers’ gavel. Stupidity again. Trinketization.

Frozen tears. Nuh, is it any consolation that there were revolutionary songs and laughter on your lips just so few moments before you died? Comrade, Red Salute. 

Statement from Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması here

Snowball street name change campaign here.