The Current

'I don't feel safe anymore': Turkish citizens react to attacks

Fear grows in a country saddled with terrorist attacks, bombings, and a government crackdown following a failed coup.
Relatives and friends mourn at a coffin during the funeral of Ayhan Arik, one of the 39 victims of a terrorist attack at a popular night club in Istanbul, January 1, 2017. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

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"If I had a chance, I would not stay here, and I would not look back."

These are the words of a woman living in Istanbul, Turkey. Jane (her real name has been withheld to protect her identity) talked to The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti about rising tensions in her country.

"I don't feel safe being here. I try to avoid public transportation ... I try never to leave home."

She is one of the 74 million people living in Turkey — a country seen not too long ago as an anchor of stability in the volatile Middle East, but whose violence in recent years has continued to escalate.

The authorities are currently on high alert as they search for the shooter who killed 39 people at an Istanbul night club on New Year's Day.

A former employee of the Reina nightclub reacts outside following an attack by a gunman in Istanbul, Turkey, January 1, 2017. (Huseyin Aldemir/Reuters)

But in the last few years, Turkey has been the site of a string of terror attacks, as well as a failed attempted coup, and subsequent widespread government crackdown.

Jane says things took a turn in 2015, when the Turkish parliament passed a package of laws that extended police powers.

A policeman could stop me in the middle of the road, ... he could take me under custody, or ask me about my identity — or even come and search my house without a warrant.- A Turkish citizen 

Jane went on to criticize the government's approach in tackling terrorist threats in Turkey.

"I feel the government is more focused on social media and tweets than the people on the streets with guns, firearms, and bombs in their hands."

"I try never to post anything about politics, or about Turkey, no matter in what sense."

A fear of government and growing censorship means Turkish people don't have a complete picture of their political situation, says Jane. 

We hear unofficially from our friends and unofficial press agencies that people taken under custody are tortured.

 'I realized if I want to stay alive and survive in this ... I have to keep my mouth shut."

Irep Cakir, a journalist from Turkey who moved to Canada last year, testified many of her colleagues are in Turkish jail. 

"Our dreams were sort of stolen from us, I couldn't dream anymore. That's why I moved."

However, despite growing tensions between pro-government and anti-government forces, Cakir says she will not be afraid.

I feel shock, pain and even anger — but not fear. Because this is exactly what terrorism wants... Terror wants you to surrender to fear.- Irep Cakir

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this webpost. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry, Pacinthe Mattar and Samira Mohyeddin.