I am writing to you 'live' from Turkey from the home of beloved friends, where the protests and propaganda in the city for the referendum today feel like a far cry from their peaceful land and natural surroundings.
Watch a video of the demonstrations here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty7lTwII2FI However the sentiments and concerns regarding the political situation of the country are also alive in this relatively quiet livingroom. And writing this blogpost is a challenge, for the internet connection is extremely slow and dysfunctional, which is speculated to be partly due on behalf of the government, as more people over the country are experiencing similar trouble. Today the Turkish people can vote at the constitutional referendum whether they approve the 18 amendments proposed by the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The referendum is called following the country's state of emergency which was declared after a failed military coup in Turkey last July 2016. If the majority approves then this will lead to the abolishment of the Prime Minister's office and the replacement of the existing parliamentary system by an executive presidency and a presidential system. Also the number of Parliament seats would raise from 550 to 600 while the president would be given more control over appointments to the Supreme Board of Prosecutors (HSYK). In short.. Erdogan would gain much more power when people approve of the amendments. Although signs and parades of cars with 'Oyumus evet!' (we say yes!) are coloring the street image of the cities, the people who protest against the amendments declare their vote in an even more colorful way. Throughout the country, parades with colorful balloons saying 'Hayir!' (No!) have been going out into the streets to spread the word, the hope, the balloons and even let their message be spread by the wind as they finally let the balloons up in the air. I was touched by this hopeful, colorful and peaceful demonstration of courage among the Turkish people. In a similar way that I was touched by the peaceful, courageous and open, welcoming attitude of the protesters I danced with in the streets of Antalya, as I arrived there just after the start of Taksim demonstrations in June 2013. The friends I have met and made along my travels in Turkey are one by one such wonderful, inspiring, curious, creative and conscious people, who share much heart and love for their family, friends, community, country and nature. They come together in circles to share, they care for each other and their surroundings. They deserve to be protected and supported by their government in a rightful, loving, respectful manner. And I don't feel Erdogan and his government are providing such protection and support at all, which really saddens me. However, all hope is not lost, all hope is never lost. And the colorful balloons are reminding me of this once again. When we focus on the positive, live from the heart and act from a place of love, miracles happen. A world as seen from the heart will always be a colorful place in the end, and who knows what is still to come. Somehow this situation reminded me of the referendum held in Chile in 1988 against the rule of their dictator Pinochet. There the opponents of Pinochet called the Chilean people to vote 'No' also in the most colorful, creative way. Watch the 1988 genius Chilean campain video 'Chile, la alegria ya viene' (Chile, happiness is coming): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IFAMpW0hPNY May we choose a colorful life and let their bright, positive energy prevail in our worldview, always.