OPINION mehmet-ali-birand

When Şemdin Sakık falls in love

HDN | 1/21/2010 12:00:00 AM | MEHMET ALİ BİRAND

After reading Sakık’s story it becomes obvious how difficult the general situation is for Turkey.

I’ve been talking about Can Dündar for the past two days because he deserves it very much. Once more he did a good job. From the perspective of the paper and also from a perspective of a chat that could not better put forth the feelings of those who fight against terror.

Part of the chat was aired on Canlı Gaste on NTV and all of it covered in the daily Milliyet. It attracted my attention so much that I wanted to share it with you.

As an example, see what Şemdin Sakık, a former top leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, says when people wonder whether those in the mountains will retreat and where people struggle with the democratic initiative to clear out Kandil:

[HH] ‘You can’t make them come down from the mountains’

“Even if people in the mountains get exhausted or face difficulties or conflicts with the organization or realize that weapons won’t lead anywhere, they are forced to stay there. They have embarked down a road of no return. Because the laws made up by the state formerly were very bad. Besides, the conditions there are much better now. They have money. The militia supplies them commodities. The land is mainly clear. In spring they’d protest a little and go on with their lives. If you pay attention, you’ll notice they have gained some weight up in the mountains. I think they are waiting to leave, but only all together. So I think they won’t come down even if the organization decides to retreat. Because they are unable to take roots here, which I believe to some extent is due to the state and the organization itself.”

I don’t know if until now people knew about this side of the coin.

I doubt it.

But it seems to be a realistic analysis. It clearly explains the state of mind and expectations of those up in the mountains. He said Kandil could only be cleared if the organization wishes so.

[HH] ‘We were even afraid of a soldier’s uniform’

Sakık puts forth one more reality of which the younger generation is not aware: the fear of the military.

He explains in a striking way who in the Southeast represents the state and how people view security forces:

“One other reason for going into the mountains was due to pressure. Everybody explains this pressure as being due to the Sept. 12, 1980 coup, whereas there was pressure present before that date, there was authoritarianism. We didn’t know about political parties or civil society. I asked my mother what state means and she said, ‘It means military, son.’ For us the state was the military. The military would come to collect weapons, taxes or deserters and beat us up, then leave. Military for us meant beating someone up. Then I went to town and again encountered the police. We always experienced the state as a form of pressure or military. We arrived at such a point that one day when I went to the mountains and saw a footprint of a soldier, I got scared. If a soldier was to drop a piece of his uniform we couldn’t step over it. We were scared that much. In almost all prisons there was torture. All troops and police stations included torture units and everybody who was arrested was tortured there. And that wasn’t enough. During operations villagers would gather in the village center and women would get on the backs of men to humiliate and beat them. In such conditions what would Şemdin do? Escape into the mountains and use anything he could get his hand on to defend himself, to survive. That was another factor that led me to flee into the mountains.”

Now some of you may say, “See, you can’t scare a Kurd, he’ll take up in arms. Fear needs to be spread like this.”

And that’s exactly where we made a huge mistake.

Times have changed and people’s approaches are different now. Now, to the contrary, people are looking for affection and human treatment.

[HH] ‘Life in the mountains is terrible’

The part in which he talks about life in the mountains is also very striking.

“One cannot live in the mountains even for three days. You can be exhausted, cold, sweaty, hungry and thirsty any minute. You are fighting against the climate, the society, the state. And you don’t have anything in your hands. Why would you remain up there? I’d have come down if there were a way to do so. I didn’t presume I’d make it up there for one year, not to mention 18 years. The first two years I spent by myself. I owned a gun and a parka; I would hide in the woods. I’d find shelter under a little rock where I would sleep. I would light a fire for warmth. Then when a shepherd would see me I’d move on to another wood or hill, go down to the valley to hide. In the winter I’d hide in the hayloft of barns, or in the grass. Sometimes I’d change places two or three times a night. The first two years passed with hiding in different places. That’s how I stayed in the mountains for 18 years. Until 1993 I thought it was necessary and dedicated myself to it with all my will power.”

[HH] ‘I left the organization when I fell in love with a girl’

The crucial part of this chat is full of human feelings.

It is the part in which he talks about how he left the organization when he fell in love.

“After I fell in love with a girl I started to love myself. Then I started to comb my hair, to shave and to take care of my clothes. I took showers here and there. I felt it at first sight; she was approaching from far away with a group at dawn. Something said to me, ‘That’s her.’ That was the fundamental point when the organization got furious with me. Everything else was an excuse. They evaluated it as a degeneration of life. It can’t be because Apo postponed it until after the revolution; he was excluded though. All men and women needed to revolutionize before they could get married. That alienated me from war. It even went beyond that… Öcalan then sent the girl to Bitlis where death was inevitable. Then I heard that she was caught. I followed her to Hatay but that didn’t work out either… Now she is in prison…”

After reading Sakık’s story it becomes obvious how difficult the general situation is for Turkey. It is a very chaotic situation that requires special attention and effort.

Weapons and beating people don’t work.

Cultural rights alone do not work either.

And besides, the decision-making mechanism is multi-headed.

The psychology of people up in the mountains is also very chaotic.

Now you figure it out.



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