When Mum was seven months pregnant with me, soldiers flooded the streets of Turkey.

It was 1980, and the streets were a mess of protestors.

Turkey was burning.

Leftists and nationalists fought for their ideologies, tried to shape Turkey with the hands of youth. The military intervened and overthrew the government and ruled for three years.

The 1980 military coup had devastating consequences.

650,000 people were taken into custody and 230,000 people were put on trial. 517 people received the death penalty and 50 people were hanged. 4,000 years of prison time was requested for 400 journalists while 31 journalists were jailed. Newspapers couldn’t print for 300 days and 39 tons of newspapers and periodicals were destroyed. (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/1980-coup-facts.aspx?pageID=238&nid=17628)

I’ve seen the fire and destruction recreated in many Turkish serials. Mum would often cry for the loss of lives, the loss of freedom, the brutality. I’d watch stunned as the country of my birth burned.

Today, the flames of history have reached the present.

This time, though, Turkish people with many ideologies are standing together to fight for the most important virtue of all: freedom.

They fight for a patch of grass that will grow with their hopes of a democratic country. They fight to preserve Ataturk’s legacy of a modern, secular society. They fight for the freedom to wear the lipstick colour of their choice, to have alcohol if and when they choose, to raise their voice on any topic, to be able to peacefully protest the demolition of a park without being gassed by the very government that’s meant to serve and protect.

The same government that is silencing democracy by censoring the Turkish media. While the media has no voice, the public have raised theirs to resonate all over the world. The protests and police brutality are documented on mobile phones and flooding social media sites, spreading the word and their truth.

A truth that was Ataturk’s legacy.

In 1927, in his speech to Turkish youth, Ataturk entrusted the Turkish independence and the Republic of Turkey in their hands. “You, the future sons and daughters of Turkey!” he said. “Even under such circumstances and conditions, your duty is to redeem the Turkish independence and the Republic! The strength you shall need exists in the noble blood flowing through your veins.”

A legacy that can’t be tear-gassed, censored or contained.

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