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Central European University main entrance
A magical thing happened last week in Budapest – Europe became one notch more erratic and even less predictable. Viktor Orbán, the democratically elected leader of Hungary, in a befittingly authoritarian fashion, passed new legislation on Tuesday, April 4, reflecting its maker’s fondness of political control of science. The legal amendment was fast-tracked, with only a few hours given to lawmakers to seal the fate of academic freedom in the country. It was also tailor-made to fit the long-standing desire of the Central European University, one of Eastern Europe’s top-level universities, located in Budapest, to collect its things and beat it. Leaving behind such a gash in liberal values, that given time it can swallow Hungary, the European Union and, eventually, Uranus.
It all started on the 31st of March. At 6pm, hundreds of individuals, mostly, but not exclusively, young people gathered at the symbolic Place de la République in Paris. They set up tents, sat down, and discussed until the early morning, cleaned up and left peacefully. And then they came back the following day, and every night ever since.
Over the past weeks Turkey has seen a great number of street protests and demonstrations in its biggest cities, from Istanbul to Ankara, Izmir and Antalya. Starting from a small demonstration the protests have grown significantly in size and structure with passing days and have been violently repressed by the police force according to sources on the scene. E&M author Siri Warrlich interviews a young European who has experienced the incidents in Istanbul at first hand.
Two years ago Heidi Hart came as an Erasmus student to Istanbul. Today, she still lives there – and since last weekend, a mask and swimming goggles belong to her everyday attire.
"İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı. I listen to Istanbul with my eyes closed.“ That is the first line of a famous poem by Orhan Veli Kanik, Turkey's Shakespeare. Istanbul on Wednesday night, 5 June 2013, not with closed eyes, but via skype, sounds like this: Cars honking, singing, whistling… are those cooking pots the people are banging against each other? My friend Heidi Hart, 24, holds her computer through the open window. "Soon, I will join them," she says and shows me her mask and swimming goggles. A little more than two years ago, the two of us together started our Erasmus journey from Mannheim, Germany to Istanbul. Heidi stayed – and recently became part of the protests.