“I Don’t Want a Punk Generation”: Punks in Istanbul
By Elif Erdogan
Although the world had its own punk scene in 1970s, Turkey had political turmoil that prevented people from having their own punk movement around that time. Istanbul, where Turkish punk can be most prominently seen, has been a house of chaos for holding two very opposite concepts as its own nature. As a cliche, it is the middle-ground for Asia (Anatolia) and Europe, but this city is also the battle ground for rich and poor, conservatives and progressives, right-wing and left-wing activists.
I happen to witness Gezi Parkı Protests when I was 13 years old, which influenced my political behaviour. I was already influenced by punk’s political messages, but it was the first time that Turkish punk rock had an effect on me. Although, Turkish demonstration music bands created a lot of songs influenced by Gezi Parkı Protests, Cemiyette Pişiyorum’s Buldozer (POMA) was not romanticizing the protests, but showing the resistance of people against power. Despite the fact that I left Istanbul at the age of 18 to live in Nagoya, I am still following Turkish punk scene constantly and it is more active than it used to be. But it was not always like that.
Turkey did not have a punk scene when other countries were writing their own history around 1980s. “I don’t want a punk generation” were the words of Kenan Evren who started the 1980’s Coup D’etat and traumatized every Turkish citizen. It was a period of time when soldiers would enter your house without your permission, to search your library whether you own books related to politics. Many artists or intellectuals continued their life in other places like Europe or America to carry on their work. People started to burn their music records and books so that they would not be arrested by the soldiers. Therefore listening to songs about anarchy would be the last thing a civilian would like to do in Turkey. Thus, Turkey didn’t have a solid punk generation in 1980s when it was booming in other parts of the world.