NEW CASTLE —
On June 12, 2012, Russ and Raina married in a traditional Turkish wedding ceremony, with the blessing of her parents and other family members. While 28-year-old Raina speaks fluent English, her mom speaks no English and her dad just a little.
“Of course my parents expected me to marry a Turkish man, but after they met Russ, they said they could see that I would not be as happy with any other man as I was with him,” she said. “They said they liked his character.”
Relic’s parents were on board as well.
“My dad was unable to travel, but my mom came three or four days before the wedding,” he said. “I think she was still a little skeptical before she got here, but once she met Raina she fell in love with her. She agreed that I met the love of my life.”
Cheryl will get the chance to fall in love again next week when she travels to Adana to meet her granddaughter for the first time.
Protests in Turkey started May 28, initially to contest the urban development plan for Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park and heightened by outrage at an eviction of a sit-in at the park protesting the plan. Protests and strikes followed across Turkey, centering on a wide range of concerns, including freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the government’s attempts to control Turkey’s secularism.
As protests continued across the country, the use of tear gas and water cannons by police led to thousands of arrests and injuries and 15 deaths.
On June 11, riot police moved back into Taksim Square and four days later, following peaceful sit-ins at the square, police moved in and rapidly cleared and occupied the park and square. Protests have continued, prompting Relic to email media outlets across the world, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and the New York Times.
“I’ve never been involved in anything like this in my life, but I have tried to help the Turkish peoples’ cause,” Relic said. “The people are expressing their anger over the direction of the country. I was warned not to attend the protests, so I’ve tried to help with emails about what is happening here. As a student of history and studying this region, I know the amount of blood and tears it took to build this current modern nation of Turkey. Also, I learned much by listening to the local Turks tell me the history or stories that are not in our history books in school. I am not doing this for political reasons. I am doing it because what has happened in many ways is a huge violation of human rights and freedom of speech and expression.”
Relic has needed to keep his family out of harm’s way.
“The police have been arresting people right in front of my house,” he said. “You see water cannons going up the street and the police will shoot anyone with water or rubber bullets that happens to be out at that time. We make sure we avoid going out onto the street when we see the police anywhere near.
“The whole thing is surreal, sometimes I can’t believe I’m in the middle of all of it.”