‘June Fire’: We will not forget

The documentary and”Haziran Yanginiand” (June Fire), by journalist Gandurkan Hacir, was among a number of films that collectively pulled out of the national documentary competition of the Istanbul Film Festival this year in solidarity with the censored documentary and”KuzeyBakurand” (The North).
Luckily, the independent distribution label Baika Sinema is giving this 65-minute documentary a chance to run in national theaters in June, an effectively chosen month. It is a month that will never be forgotten by those who participated in, supported or even closely observed the Gezi Park protests throughout the country two years ago.
Perhaps the day that a truly inclusive, precise and faithful cinematic depiction that will fully capture the spirit of the Gezi resistance is yet to come, but nevertheless and”Haziran Yanginiand” is a strong investigatory effort, tackling one of the most agonizing and unjust events that took place during June 2013 — the murder of activist Ethem Sarisandulanduk by a police officer in Ankara.
On the night of May 31, 2013, a group of peaceful, green activists were subjected to a violent police crackdown in the middle of the night. The members of the group were protesting the decision of then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoganand’s government to transform Istanbuland’s landmark green space of Gezi Park (near Taksim) into a shopping mall. After the crackdown on May 31, citizens across the country who realized they had had enough Erdoganand’s authoritarian rule and the sheer violence of the Turkish police came together in unison on the streets to protest against the state.
The images of hundreds of thousands of people gathered around Taksim Square, collectively enduring police violence, water cannons and gas bombs, will probably be remembered as the defining images. But lest we forget, the Gezi resistance spread across the country and came to be known as the June Movement, which later gave birth to a political coalition called the United June Movement (BHH).
Ankara, being the capital of the state, was one of the places where the police crackdown was the most brutal and unforgiving against the protestors. and”June Fireand” investigates how one unlucky protester, Ethem Sarisandulanduk, became the target of a police bullet and how the dysfunctional Turkish judicial system ultimately closed its eyes as the police officer in question evaded a just trial and legal punishment.
Hacir first explains to us how the Gezi protests came into being and then immediately shifts attention to the protests in Ankara where thousands of people flocked to the streets of Kizilay and Ulus and clashed with the police. We are given background information of Sarisandulanduk through his family and friends who portray him as an erudite and peaceful man, politically of a socialist orientation, who believed in equality and justice for all. He is one of the individuals who immediately joined the protests and fearlessly stood in the front lines to stand up for what he believed in. During a clash in Kizilay, police officer Ahmet iahbaz drew his gun and initially seemed to be firing into the sky to break up the crowd in front him but, lo and behold, CCTV footage proved that iahbaz was intentionally firing into the crowd, at the protesters and not the sky. The bullet found its way into Sarisandulanduk and the police officer ran back to his colleagues, who were retreating into a side street.
The murder was committed in broad daylight, yet the trial continues as Sarisandulandukand’s crestfallen family awaits justice from a corrupt judicial system that has become a mockery. The documentary does its best to illustrate the events that unfolded the day that Sarisandulanduk was shot and later depicts the build-up to and the preparation for the trial of all parties involved — the defense, the prosecution and the family andndash and takes on a TV news-style documentary format out to prove its point. The naked truth of Sarisandulandukand’s death is in front of our very eyes but the representatives of the state are still in denial and refuse to acknowledge the circumstances.
and”Haziran Yanginiand” is not the cinematic breakthrough that weand’ve all been waiting for — a documentary that will tell the world every important facet of what happened in June 2013 — yet it still is a major and admirable effort that will become a part of the Gezi literature.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman