Embassies — the focus of attention after horrific events

Across the world people seem to be more divided than ever. Just a week ago, we were still reeling from the news of yet another atrocity in France. And then we came home on Friday evening and turned on the the news to watch events unfolding in Turkey in an attempted military coup.

It seems that every few weeks we have some new event that has worrying consequences. The events themselves are horrific but the reactions and actions by governments afterwards are worse and effect more people. Terrorist attacks, violence, attempted coups — all seem to elicit a crackdown on freedoms from governments. And that is most troubling of all. 

Woman chatting at a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in London

While a pro-democracy demonstration outside the Turkish embassy in London last Saturday was a friendly affair and a bit of a family occasion, I’m fearful for the future of freedom and democracy in Turkey. And I’m not the only one.

Boy wearing a Thomas the Tank Engine t-shirt and a Turkish flag as a cape, outside the Turkish Embassy in London

A girl with the Turkish symbol painted on her cheek, outside the Turkish Embassy in London

This protest against the attempted coup was small. I had expected to see more people. This may reflect the unease that many Turks feel about Erodogan’s regime.

Pro-democracy protestors outside the Turkish Embassy in London

Governments respond to acts of violence with states of emergency or crackdowns on freedoms. But what are ordinary people supposed to do?

We need to show our opposition, our horror, our disgust and also our sadness for those who have been directly affected. A demonstration may be the appropriate way to express our feelings. But sometimes the only way to express sadness and solidarity with other ordinary people who have suffered at the hands of megalomaniacs and those who see us representatives of and participants in some sort of immoral dominion is to do the simplest of acts — those acts that no-one can misinterpret — and the laying of flowers (like these at the French embassy in London) is one of the most simple and universal acts and one of the most poignant of all. 

Woman laying flowers, French Embassy, London

Flowers on the steps of the French Embassy in London

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