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A Political Alphabet – How Turkish People are saying ‘No’ for the Referendum

During the hugely important Gezi Park protests in Turkey in 2013, social media played an important role, a new visual and written language emerged that gave voice to a dissent that a large part of the population felt. Turkey is once again facing a vital moment with the upcoming referendum in Mid-April on the constitution which could increase already authoritarian president Erdogan’s power. The public, in a time where there isn’t a strong opposition to the government, have again used their resourcefulness to protest. Their message is simple – ‘NO’, or ‘HAYIR’ in Turkish, the letterforms are created very simply and in the moment, often out of peoples bodies, or of the materials around them in their work. First were a group of factory workers, photographed making the letterforms while at work, the construction of the letter ‘R’ in it was especially found meaningful in Turkey, a cheeky salute with a cocked leg out, representing ‘a hopeful salute to the future generations’. The idea then spread quickly among the whole society. Another example - construction workers welding ironworks and setting them in the ground for a more permanent protest. Bread was also used not only because materials at hand but also representing a young boy who was shot to dead by riot police when he was going to a local shop to get bread in the Gezi Park Protests. No matter which way the vote goes, these protests show the simple resourcefulness of human beings who feel unrepresented, to create organic typography using the only things they have - themselves and the things around them to create a simple, joyful yet strong human protest.

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