An eye witness report from Turkish Kurdistan

An eye witness report from Turkish Kurdistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Post-Blog

A gripping
eye-witness report from Diyarbakir (Amed in Kurdish), the main city of Turkey’s
Kurdistan and the terror inflicted by the Turkish state and its dictator
Erdogan.
As the Kurds provide the main opposition to Isis, Turkey attacks them whilst remaining part of the ‘anti-Isis alliance’ with Britain and the USA.
Tony
Greenstein  (thanks to Moshe Machover)

 In Turkey, the state doesn’t talk—it only shoots

January
9, 2016
A
gripping eyewitness account from Diyarbakir, in southeastern Turkey, where the
state continues its onslaught on the Kurdish civilian population.
Mass demonstration in support of release of PKK leader Ocalan
This article was originally published at Die Wochenzeitung. It was translated from German by Janet Biehl.
It’s freezing cold in
Amed, as the city of Diyarbakir is known to its residents. Over ten centimeters
of snow blankets the ground, something that happens only every three or four
years. And at exactly this moment, fighting is escalating in Amed’s old
neighborhood of Sur and in the cities of Cizre and Silopi, in Sirnak province.
Turkey PKK bus attacked
I’m
here in the press office of the municipal administration, along with three
journalists and a researcher. These days the office serves as a de facto base
for journalists and researchers from western Turkey and abroad. We talk about
what has been going on in the region for the past few months.
The
events unfolding here are nearly incomprehensible even to those who live here.
Every morning, every evening, and every night a wave of exhaustion pervades my
body as I hear shots, detonations, and explosions from nearby Sur. Also during
the daytime, but them I’m at work.
The
others say the same thing, often more dramatically. Many lie awake all night,
every night. Last night a mortar round landed on the roof where one of them is
staying.
In
this city of a million people, we observe with dread how the state, dozens of
times a day, uses tanks and artillery to shoot at the old city, to try to break
the resistance of 200 to 300 young people, organized in the illegal YDG-H. The
state doesn’t speak—it only shoots.
Last
spring the Turkish government unilaterally broke off peace negotiations with
the banned PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and then at the end of July unleashed
war on the PKK. The young people then established “liberated spaces” in several
cities, spaces free of repression. In tandem, the council-democratic
neighborhood people’s councils of Diyarbakir and 20 other places declared
autonomy.
The
state then began to systematically arrest political activists in North Kurdistan—one
thousand in three weeks alone. Intermittently, between 2009 and 2012, more than
nine thousand people had already been arrested. Many people here want the
long-standing military conflict in the mountains to come to an end. Most are
disgusted that the AKP of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied the electoral
success of the leftist-pro-Kurdish party HDP last June and went on to hold a
second election under repressive circumstances.
Conflict between Army and Kurdish civilians
Like a bad movie
I’m
on my way home, and it’s still snowing. Tanks roll past me, heading for the old
city. Their effect on the city is terrorizing. This cannot stand. Last spring a
rebellious mood prevailed in the city, after the town of Kobane, in the Kurdish
part of Syria, was liberated. The revolution in Rojava spread its radiance
brightly. Today that feels long ago and far away. Peace was then, war is
now—and this time in the city!
I
think only in categories of “safe” and “dangerous” places. I feel like I’m in a
bad movie that’s getting worse. Then I remember something an Argentine friend
once said to me, while here making a movie: “There are two surreal places on
this planet: Mexico and Kurdistan.”
Up
until October, many HDP members in Amed—where the party got 78 percent of the
vote—questioned the sense of the call for autonomy and all the ditches and
barricades of the young people. They were dumbfounded. And the most political
among them—Amed is a very political city—couldn’t work out a reasonable
analysis. Many asked me, “How long is this going to continue? Will they stop
next month or what?”
I
think they have awakened from a dream now and are in a state of shock. For a
century, we Kurds have been second-class people. We want peace, I feel that,
but we want a just peace. Even those who lost siblings or children due to the
terror of the state in the last 30 years, as guerrillas or as civilians, desire
peace so strongly that they eagerly believe every spark of hope.
Many
mistrust the state, which has acted ever more brutally since the summer. Its
acts of cruelty with the recurring curfews—in Sur, since December 1—are
gradually waking the people up. First it was only the political activists, and
now even the residents often say things like “the resistance has begun” and
“there’s nothing left for us now but to fight with dignity.”
Unfortunately
we have a president who, to an unprecedented degree, is persecuting all
peace-seeking Kurds and non-Kurdish democrats in Western Turkey—they are
perhaps in a greater state of shock than we are—so as to establish himself as
the eternal ruler. We must resist! That may sound like propaganda or a
morale-boosting slogan. But what solution do the critics have? In the past only
resistance has had any effect.
And
meanwhile what are the European governments doing? They send President Erdoğan
money so he will detain the refugees in Turkey, and otherwise they shut their
eyes. The EU is once again even talking about accession, to bind Turkey closer
to itself. Suddenly all the criticism of recent years is silenced. Okay, state
politics is crap. But those of you in Europe—you still have a halfway
independent public sphere, which we are losing here. Get to work, and don’t
allow this sordid deal to happen!
“You’ve killed my mother”
Three
hours later I am translating a letter from a young person from Silopi, Inan,
whose mother was shot in the street last month, and succumbed to her wounds
because for one week the police snipers shot anyone who tried to help her. A
week ago a journalist published the story on the blog of a Turkish newspaper.
This is perhaps the most difficult translation of my life. I want to share it
with you.
When
we learned that my mother had been shot, we rushed to the spot. Before we
arrived, my uncle had tried to get to her, but they shot him too. As I arrived,
neighbors were carrying my dead uncle’s body away. I asked about my mother, and
they said she was still lying in the street. When I tried to go to her, they
held me back. I cried, cried, cried. My mother had fallen in the middle of the
street and was just lying there. At first she had moved a little, but then her
movements subsided. Everyone we called—representatives, regional councilors,
provincial governor—said the snipers should withdraw so we could remove her
body.
What
was my mother feeling as she lay there? She suffered. For seven days she lay in
the street. None of us slept, so we could keep the dogs and birds away from
her; she lay there, 150 meters away, and we saw how she had lost her life. In
those seven days, the state caused us as much suffering as any one human being
can cause to an other.
My
mother still had her shawl in one hand, her hands had become stiff, the
position of her body reflected her struggle to survive. The blood was dry. Her
hands, her face, where she fell to the ground, was covered with dirt, her clothing
was drenched in dried blood.
The
believers have ripped out the soul of my mother. The eyes of my mother remain
open, her face tilted toward our house. I cannot express how much pain I am
feeling. Seven days in deepest winter she lay in the street. The most painful
thing is not to know how long she stayed alive. I hope she died right away.
They have killed my mother.
If
you do not feel anything, then reread this letter—over and over.
Escalation
In
recent weeks in the Kurdish parts of Turkey, individual cities and
neighborhoods have been transformed into war zones. Hidden from the public,
Turkish military and police forces have moved with heavy weapons against the
rebels, often young people, and do not spare even nonparticipants. Human Rights
Watch has assembled eyewitness accounts showing that the security forces have
opened fire even on those who try to leave their homes. Local human rights
groups report that more than 150 civilians have been killed.
After
the parliamentary elections in November, hopes rose that the Turkish government
would end the course of confrontation that it had begun in July. Those hopes
have been dashed. On the contrary, the repression has intensified, even of
elected officials of the pro-Kurdish HDP party. Several of them, including the
co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, have been threatened with charges of separatism.
Ercan Ayboga
Ercan
Ayboga, son of Kurdish-Turkish parents, studied environmental engineering in
Germany. He is active in the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement and works for the
city administration in Diyarbakir as an environmental consultant and in the
international press office.

 

 

 

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