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What Happened To The ’68 ‘Generation? – OpEd


The 68′ generation is what we call the group of young people who were studying at the university in year 1968. This generation covers those who were in universities between 1964-1974. It was hard years. The right-wing government used hard methods on university students. Interior minister ordered on the phone to the security forces, “Beat them so that they have no courage to go out into the street,” he said.

It was known that the PM of that time supported the hard situation.Later in time, he got friendly with the intellectual circle, he tried to get better as he became president.

The 68 generation youth were beaten, tortured, mutilated, imprisoned, even killed.

But what happened to those who suffered with psychological disorders, were dissipated and got insane?

Nobody wrote about them. This article was written in their memory. At the beginning of 1968, I was in the first grade of the metu mechanical engineering department. All engineering students took physics chemistry lessons together in the big hall of the triple auditorium. Students who do not stay in the dormitories were coming from the city with shuttle buses to catch up with the lectures in the last minutes. The students staying in the dormitories were keeping front seats. We are trying to listen to the lectures from the back rows. No private cars were available.

Rich, poor we all used the same school shuttle buses.

We all had velvet pants, necked wool sweaters, many of us have a army coats and a military boots. There’s a young man coming to class. His dresses were different, expensive, high fashion, they’re all brand. In the lecture, he asked questions from behind, his English was excellent. Probably he was a graduate of private Robert or german high school in Istanbul. His friends were rich, different, well-educated elite groups.

He had come to the name of METU University for reputation, he could read it in Istanbul or abroad.

He had probably in a rented house in town. He didn’t stay in dormitory.The school took a half-year spring break, then we had boycotts, detention, deaths.

Poor students were more resilient. They were forced to move on to get degree.

Then the courses started again.

The young man was somehow arrested, stayed sometime inside, but there were serious changes in him, something happened that he didn’t deserve.

His Balance has gone, his daily clothing unchanged, dirty weary clothing, he could not talk, he could not have eye contact.

The group of rich friends around him disappeared.

He was spending hours in the library, he wasted time. I suppose he failed in class that year, he couldn’t attend school,Ten years passed, I saw him in the Ankara American library. He entered the library, when the library opened, he remained there until it was closed, he was staring books. He had a poor suit and worn shoes.The American library was closed, this time I saw him sleeping on the benches of the Botanic or Constitution parks, he was walking unforeseen times occasionally on Jinnah Street in Ankara. His hair got lengthened, with long beard.

He had a typical homeless – look. His schoolmates couldn’t possibly have known him, so I knew him because I saw him from time to time. Now I don’t see him anymore. Maybe I don’t have any visit on those sides of the City.

The strong politicians of that time no longer live now. They passed away, they are not remembered. Their names are forgotten.

In the meantime, the ’68 generation were crushed, disappeared, and our future came to the place where we had never been in the hands of people who were unforeseen earlier.

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Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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