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What is going on in Turkey?! How did it all start?

I just came back from an event in Toronto to support people in Turkey, who tried to protect trees in a park soon to be demolished and replaced by a shopping mall. (Istanbul has close to 100 shopping malls by now.) Citizens who care about nature were against the project from the beginning, but authorities choose to ignore them, as it is often the case in Turkey. When the bulldozers of the municipality invaded the park in the night of May 27, a few people reacted spontaneously and gathered in the park for a sit-in. This was a nonviolent action, I emphasize nonviolent!

Riot police was sent to the area, in numbers far beyond the numbers of the protesters. People wanted to see the court order to rip out the trees, which could not be presented (it still cannot be!). Police and bulldozers did not take any further action at that time. The following dawn, while occupiers were sleeping in their tents, police attacked them without warning, water cannoned them and burned some of the tents with everything in it. This is how it all began.

These people were unarmed, nonviolent citizens. They did not say or do anything to provoke the police!

Police stopped the attack for that day. Protesters continued to occupy the park.

Next dawn, same thing happened again. Police attacked them with more violence and brutality. They started to use pepper spray and tear gas. Water cannons continued. A Member of the Parliament, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, stopped the bulldozers by using his own body as a shield. He demanded to see the authorization to demolish the park, it could not be produced! Bulldozers stopped again. By that time, some of the trees were already ripped out. Later that day, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Topbaş and Istanbul Governor Mutlu held a press conference: Topbaş claimed that no trees had been ripped out, no shopping mall was to be built, that it was just a measure to broaden the pavement and the trees would be planted elsewhere. (Actual pictures, already on social media, proved him wrong!) Mutlu assured that the police did not use disproportionate force, using water cannons were always the measure of first choice in such situations. (Again, pictures on social media were proving him wrong!)

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Erdoğan was speaking at a meeting which was covered by the mainstream media. His language did not show any sign of reconciliation, on the contrary, he preferred the language of hatred, which Turkish citizens are very familiar of. Erdoğan considers this type of language as “the art of public speaking”. He blamed the leader of the opposition Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and held him responsible for what was going on. Erdoğan was taking the situation very lightly, saying that “he doesn’t care about a bunch of people who are making a fuss around a few trees.” He continued his speech with a clear statement that he is determined to continue the project, no matter what. And he rounded it all up with a threat to the opposition party which had a meeting scheduled for June 1 (which later on was cancelled and all party supporters were invited to join the resistance in Taksim, by then called the Gezi Resistance or #occupygezi) : “For each hundred thousand of you, I’ll bring a million of my people. Don’t make me do this!” These words obviously intimidated the public in general.

Meanwhile, activists remained calm, they read their books, worked on their projects on site, shared their food and chatted. Again, no weapons of any kind, no violent act whatsoever. They even wanted to share their food with the police and asked their commandant for permission to do so. Just at that moment, police fired a water cannon, destroyed their food and everything around them.

From that moment on, police did not stop! Domestic mainstream media did not cover and broadcast any of this. They still don’t! Rumor was that the mainstream media was advised not to broadcast any of this, because Mr. Prime Minister wasn’t comfortable watching it. Social media was the only source of sharing information. It was used wisely and responsibly by the activists, no call for violence, just spreading the word about the current situation. Even in its plain and simple description, the situation was terrifying.

The attacks continued the whole day. Then something incredible happened: Citizens throughout Istanbul, which is home to over 12 Million people, were alarmed by pictures and information which was shared on social media. In the night, people started to show their support to the little group of occupants, they gathered in their own neighborhoods, made noise with pans and pots. Police attack was continuing. Then, members of fan clubs of rival soccer teams, who would never come side by side otherwise, gathered and marched to Taksim Square. Police attacked them as well. But worst-enemies-forever type of fans were determined to stay united, they supported each other in camaraderie like never before (and maybe never again!). Citizens witnessed this kind of sincere support and could not resist joining them. A group of several thousand people marched from the Asian side of Istanbul to the European side of the city. This was a march over almost 15 km, they marched until dawn. These unarmed, nonviolent people were stopped by the police at several points on the European side, with tear gas and water cannons. No explanation, no justification for this kind of action! Surprisingly, people managed to stay calm and avoided violence. Social Media was still the main source of information.

Tension was growing. It was like a bushfire: Many other cities joined the #occupygezi movement. People gathered in city centers to show their solidarity. No weapons, no violence! In most cities, citizens were exposed to excessive police force: Massive use of tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons. This worsened the situation. However, police chiefs in some cities chose not to intervene with this peaceful event. Guess what: Nothing happened, people sit together for some time, sang and shared pictures of the gathering using the hash-tag #occupygezi on twitter. Then they went back to their homes!

Police still attacks people in many cities of Turkey, the capital Ankara, Adana, İzmir, Bursa, Mersin, Antakya …

At some point on Saturday, the center of attention, Gezi Park in Taksim, was allegedly cleared by the police. People were gathering again in the park. At that moment, police started attacking them again! Several times! They were trapped! When they wanted to flee from the park, police followed them on the streets, beat them up, pepper sprayed them, shot them (yes, police indeed aimed at their bodies) with tear gas capsules!

This continues 4 day in a row now! No word from Prime Minister Erdoğan or President Gül! Just like all these is happening in another country. In fact, in that case most probably they would be very talkative and eager to comment.

How do I know about all these:

1. Through social media, can’t help but follow twitter and facebook. Follow #occupygezi for more information in English.

2. My brother Yunus Günçe, an actor, comedian and showman, has become inevitably a part of the movement, as many other celebrities in Turkey. He is an eyewitness of the horror.

3. Through international media, which, contrary to the Turkish media, broadcasts live from Istanbul and other cities.

to be continued…

Homework for Skilled Immigrants to Canada

The day before, I asked questions from an immigrant perspective. Now I will adress this issue from a more Canadian perspective. You know, it takes two to play this game! Here are some questions:

Do Skilled Immigrants have realistic ideas about their value to the country?

Do Skilled Immigrants understand the difference between “temporary worker” status and “skilled immigrant” status?

Are Skilled Immigrants ready to and flexible enough to adjust their existing skills to the Canadian market? 

Do Skilled Immigrants understand that they have to do their part for inclusion?

Any comment and input is welcome!

I will continue to write on this issue.

Can Canada afford losing skilled immigrants?

When I look back to my first year in this Country, I have to acknowledge the supportive attitude of wonderful people around me. But still there are some questions in my mind that I dare to ask being a permanent resident in the “Skilled Worker” class myself.

Does Canada really know the importance and value of immigrants to the country?

Do Canadians understand immigration as a population policy?

Can Canada afford wasting skills, experience and capacity of immigrants?

Does Canada recognize the humanitarian aspects of immigration?

What can be done to replace “tolerance” with “inclusion”?

Any comment and input is welcome!

Tomorrow I will rewrite these questions from a different perspective.

I am back!

I am back!.

I am back!

Hello World via WordPress

I have been away for months now. Life was chaotic and busy and exciting while I was away. There is so much I want to share with you. So blog posts will follow, hopefully reguarly. Here are some ideas for writing within the next few days:

The most exciting event during my absence here was the change in my marital status! Yes, I got married to the man I am in love with! The wedding itself deserves a blog post of its own. “The Perfect Wedding” will be coming soon, you won’t miss it!

Another exciting development was the opportunity to be a guest writer for Natalie MacNeil’s SheTakes on the World. I kook forward to working with her on a blog post in Turkish.

I was in Turkey with family and friends for about three months. Istanbul, my former hometown, was as beautiful, as crowded and as chaotic as ever. It’s nice to be there for a limited period of time, knowing that I’ll escape to the serenity of my new hometown, Kitchener. Next blog post on the agenda will be about the beauty of Istanbul.

Sponsoring my dear husband is the most important and urgent item on my agenda right now. Paperwork, bureaucracy, immigration are also on the list for upcoming blogposts. 

Keeping up with the agenda of the world, I may write spontaneously as well. 

That was a warming up, see you soon!



Forever and ever, living and dying with dignity

Forever and ever, living and dying with dignity.

Forever and ever, living and dying with dignity

My father was 56 when he died. It has been 15 years now. He left a void when he went which we did not even attempt to fill. I was 30 when we saw him out to eternity. Before I could even feel my own pain, two thoughts came into my mind: What am I going to tell my mother? They had an incredible relationship, what would happen to her now? And my children wouldn’t have a grandfather, would I have to raise them all by myself? Maybe stupid and irrelevant sounding, but nevertheless very real concerns.

Both questions found somehow their responses as we moved forward in life. After a silent but intensive mourning, my mother developed a beautiful way to continue her life. She augmented her grand-parenting by taking over and continuing my father’s. She has become an amazing grandmother!

This was my first and most devastating encounter with death. 

Long before my father died, I decided to make a PhD in forensics. As a dentist, this was not a usual path for a career. But this was not my first ‘unusual’ decision in life and it certainly has not been my last. Somehow, my father was very proud of me, his first daughter, the oldest of four siblings. In fact, he was always proud of all his children. Later on this became a guiding principle of our lives, continuing the pride. 

After 12 years of a career as a dentist, I shifted from a ‘practicing clinical’ to a ‘practicing forensic’ dentist. I worked for more than 10 years in the mortuary department of the Council of Forensic Medicine in Istanbul. I witnessed so many personal tragedies while identifying bodies. Thousands of different stories. If I can find the courage one day, I want to write these stories, as a tribute to each and every person I had to identify throughout the years. We did not only restitute their identity but also restored their dignity. 

When I got involved with death as a part of my life, I realized that death is truly the only true and absolute fact in the world. You may not be born but you must die. And by realizing this, I also realized that life is the only true and absolute gift in this world.

There are no words to take away the pain created by the loss of a beloved person. Only time will transform the cutting pain into a state of bluntness, which allows moving us forward in life. But being surrounded by friends, knowing that there are people caring about us and sharing our pain makes it more bearable. 

This is the reason why I feel it difficult to convey my condolences, my way to do that is to wish for all a life with no postponements and a death with dignity. 


Is it the end or just the beginning?

Today is the last day of my Social Media for Business Performance course. Thank you Peter Carr for guiding us, leading us through the eight weeks. Thank you “classmates” who I never met in person, except Veronica and Kim. I will miss the Monday evening seminars on Skype.

This will not be the last blog post about the course; however, it will be the one to close it officially.

I want to write what social media means to me. What I understand from social media, what I expect. What I knew, what I didn’t know, what I learned, what I still don’t know.

As a mother of two teenage boys, I entered the arena of social media with facebook not to ‘stalk’ but to ‘follow’ my children, to keep up with their world. But of course they were smart enough to ‘unsubscribe’ from me very soon. Later on it has become a platform to meet old friends from all over the world. I even found my old ‘pen friend’ from India, from the time when I was a Gymnasium student in Germany. Back then we did not have these tools, we only had paper and pen. Yes, I am that old!

I initially had signed up for twitter to see what my celebrity brother was doing and how the reactions were to his tweets. It is still exciting to follow him and see how fast the number of his followers grow.

When we made the big move and immigrated to Canada, we chose Kitchener as our new home. But starting a new life, leaving everything behind is not easy. Facebook and twitter helped me not only to stay connected with friends, but it also made it possible for me to get connected with new friends.

It didn’t take long for me to find out how vital networking is. It came intuitively. In fact that is who I am. I like being connected, maybe because I come from a big family, who knows. I made few first steps to get connected. I participated in workshops and meetings which did not require a budget, because money was an issue, it still is.

Then I realized there is another way to get connected with no cost: Social Media! I used twitter like I never used it before. I followed people I believed to be community leaders. And it turned out I wasn’t wrong! I got informed about events, I participated and met new people. My twitter community is growing every day!

I started to use LinkedIn actively. With my initial 5 connections I created a network of more than 300 connections within a few months. Now I am connected to forensic dentists in Australia and New Zealand, to scientists in Canada and the USA, to professionals in so many fields from communications to human resources, from engineering to education all over the world.

Although I hate the ‘timeline’, my facebook account allows me to stay in touch with family and friends. Makes me feel that I am still a part of their life, like they are a part of my life.

So I have divided my social media avenues for private, community and professional contacts.

LinkedIn connects me to professionals and jobs and is thus my favorite tool regarding my career.

Twitter allows me to stay tuned (an expression I learned here, hope I am using it in the right sense).

Facebook is the social media platform where I come together with family and friends.

I also experiment with some other social media tools, like WizeNation, Klouts, Foursquare, Pinterest.

I learned how to use Google Analytics.

I made interviews with local social media champions.

I even made two videos and uploaded them to youtube.

I created this blog on wordpress all by myself!

I still use my old blog on blogspot, which my sons have created for me when we first came to Canada, kwblogu.blogspot.com.

I am now involved with the social media relations of Community Justice Initiatives, as a member of a team of three.

My interest in social media shifted from being a consumer to a user.

I know that I still have to learn a lot, but now I know where to look for it.

I believe in the power of social media, but I also believe that it has to be used ‘wisely’!

So, farewell to the class of SMBP Spring 2012! I certainly enjoyed my time with you!

And who knows, maybe we’ll meet again and say look how small the world is!?

Social media: the next generation of ‘word of mouth’. How a charitable organization sees social media

Social media: the next generation of ‘word of mouth’. How a charitable organization sees social media.

Social media: the next generation of ‘word of mouth’. How a charitable organization sees social media

How companies are using social media and why is already evaluated in many aspects. I wanted to know what drives a charitable organization to utilize social media. Community Justice Initiatives (CJI) is active on twitter: @ajustcommunity, on facebook: thejustcommunity and on youtube: thejustcommunity. I asked Julie Friesen, Director of Programs with CJI about her expectations from social media. See the video for what she had to say!