The violence and protests in Instanbul, Turkey may be more than five-thousand miles way from Roanoke but it's very much affecting one family.
"For me, it's a personal heartbreak," Judy Ayyildiz said.
The news of the protests in Turkey are hitting close to home for Judy and Vedii Ayyildiz in Roanoke. Vedii once called Turkey home but migrated to the United States about 55 years ago.
"When I talk to my family they said it's quiet right now, but it's going to be okay," Vedii Ayyildiz said.
That's the hope at least for his family back in Turkey where peaceful protests have become violent.
In the last two weeks at least four have been killed and thousands more injured. Their son, Kamal, a Northside High graduate and artist in New York City, ventured out in the streets of Instanbul during one of the clashes with police last week.
Clip 2 Judy 12:07:37 He went out and became apart of the protest. He bought himself a gas mask and he was out about a day and half the night," Judy said.
They said Kamal described the protestors as nonviolent but was moved by their mission.
"We were very worried because we're hearing all this stuff and when he came in he called. I asked 'where were you?' and he told me. I asked, 'How do you feel?' He said, 'I've never been more inspired in my life,'" Judy said.
That inspiration is what fuels Kamal and his mother as writers and artists. Both are published authors and write about their connection with the people of Turkey.
"He said, 'This is a movement of the people. This is the spirit of the people. These people are nonviolent. I've never been in such a group in my life,'" Judy said.
In many ways, Judy says the protests in Turkey mirror that of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movment in America in the 60's.
"When the will of the people is strong and their purpose is good, passive resistance in the end works," Judy said.
The Ayyildiz's say they have hope that their country will come out of this conflict stronger.
"What your parents instill in you is still alive, you see. So, you cannot kill the human spirit. That's why the triumph of the human spirit is the most powerful story we have," Judy said.
Judy is on tour for her new book Forty Thorns. It's about her mother-in-law growing up in Turkey and what she says is the struggle of the human spirit.
The couple was planning to return to Turkey in the fall but they say if a resolution isn't reached and things don't get better, they won't be returning anytime soon.