On Friday May 31, 2013 a woman named Ruveyda Öksüz was crowned Miss Turkey 2013 in Istanbul with all the pomp and diamantes you would expect from a beauty pageant. Whilst Turkish TV had eyes only for the pageant, down the road – in Taksim Square – a significant human movement to restore democracy was under-way.
It’s been widely reported internationally how police brutally fired tear gas and water cannons on peaceful protesters working to save Gezi Park – the only green space left in Taksim area and how shockingly, it wasn’t reported locally by mainstream Turkish media. Residents and friends of Turkey desperate for information flocked to social media instead.
In contrast, in October 2010 a suicide bomber in Taksim Square had local media diverting broadcasts to the incident – just as CNN or BBC do whenever a major event would happen locally. But last Friday, when people demonstrated against the government, Turkish mainstream media stayed away and the pageant paraded on.
Excellent posts like those listed below have since been written and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself has made inflammatory comments about the demonstrators. His comments and actions have resulted in violent clashes with vandalism and regrettably people have been killed, injured and uncomplimentary images had been published that have had an immediate adverse impact for tourism and investments in Turkey.
- A letter to the Prime Minister from a protester who’s an AKP member
- Turkish protest about more than just a park
- What’s happening in Istanbul?
This week, wonderful images have emerged from the demonstrators in Taksim and beyond. Not only do they dismiss Erdoğan’s very public view labelling demonstrators as extremists, marauders and drunks, they show the real faces of the demonstrators and the real winners of Miss Turkey 2013 have finally been captured on film.
Women have shown outstanding bravery all over Turkey – taking the full brunt of the police force, offering kindness to the law enforcers despite the brutality and they’ve stood up for their country to create a better future for their children and for their loved homeland of Turkey. They are the women who represent Turkey in 2013 and that mainstream Turkish media is worth reporting.
We have seen what damage giving too much power to one can do, so let’s not give out one tiara. Let’s give out many to the women who have stood up and fought to reclaim a secular and free Turkey. Here are the real winners of Miss Turkey 2013 and they don’t need a diamond, pearly teeth or a flashy dress to prove it – they just have an enormous heart and soul for their country – something men and women can all admire and learn from all around the world.
(Note: It is often difficult to find the original source of these photos. Please email me so I can acknowledge the photographer. If you have photos of inspirational women I would gladly add them to this collection, refer to my About page for contact details. More power to the men out there too alongside our sisters!)
My thoughts and heart are with the families and friends of those killed and injured in these protests. I pray with you all that a peaceful solution is found to restore democracy in one of the most amazing countries of the world.