Elif Dumanlı

Coloured water, gas, batons and patriarchy 

Elif Dumanlı, 

Education and Science Workers’ Union- Eğitim Sen, Ankara, early 2000’s onwards 

I became a union member when the coalition government of Bülent Ecevit was in power. It was a period when the union was very strong. We approached the union to become members. When I was working at Çubuk there was a closure case against the union. When mass demonstrations started I had a wisdom tooth problem.  I wanted to visit the dental clinic very early in the morning and then rush to the demonstration venue before the anaesthesia was gone, and with a swollen face. The police forces attacked violently in that period, too. But we did not leave the demonstration venue.  We were right and this empowered us. An incident that I witnessed at the demonstration venue was a turning point for me. The police forces were getting ready to attack. In that period, too, they sprayed coloured water, and then they used gas and the police would attack with their batons.  Male members started to gather behind the Eğitim-Sen banner. Men told the women to step behind. One of the women members refused to step behind and held fast to the banner. At that moment I realised that we had to resist patriarchal ideas and behaviours even in union circles.

To read the full text of Elif Dumanlı’s oral history interview of 2022 (in Turkish) click here.