The ill-fate of Turkish men
BELGİN AKALTAN - firstname.lastname@example.orgI am a Turkish mother and I have a son. That should explain most of my sentiment. It should tell you where I stand on the current conflict in Turkey.
Let me take you to the days before the so-called “resolution process,” those days when the peace process had not started yet – sometime in 2013. Every morning, each and every single day, while I was preparing to go to work, I found myself crying out loud in front of the television at the stories of the martyrs; young men who died fighting the outlawed terror organization, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Every morning. I was weeping, choking and crying out loud. That was not a nice way to start the day. Whenever I saw a mother crying at the funeral of her son on the screen, I started crying. It was unbearable. Then I switched off the television in the morning. That didn’t stop the deaths; it just oppressed the pain and the sickening reality deeper inside.
Then this government started a Kurdish initiative; they started negotiating with the terror organization – the one we were supposed to absolutely hate. There was some kind of an agreement. Then there was a cease-fire. It did happen. Clashes came to an end. Deaths stopped. There were no mothers crying. That felt good.
That sweet sensation of peace was good for everybody. We started thinking about things, certain aspects we never thought about before. We started thinking about the other side; what their problem was.
To be frank, I never believed, even for a second, that this government would succeed in striking a peace deal. I never trusted them. They were, first of all, not peaceful people; they never approached the Kurdish issue in a constructive way and did not have the political maturity to go to the roots of the problem and solve it. While they were pledging democracy to Kurds, they were snatching democracy and freedoms from Turks.
They were not genuine in any other matter; how could they be genuine in the peace process?
But then there were times when I doubted myself. They looked as if they were succeeding. Clashes ended.
No young Turkish soldier was dying anymore. (Military service is compulsory in Turkey. This means every mother has to send her son to the military. So when I say Turkish soldier, it covers Turks, Kurds, pacifists, computer scientists, architects, journalists, the poor villager from Konya – all of our sons… Those sons of ours who have no issue with the Kurds or their cause but are taught and expected to fire bullets at them.)
Anyway that sweet peace break felt so good that it kind of irritated me. I mean all the mighty governments before them – the leftist, the rightist, the conservative, the coalitions, the female PM-led ones – were not able to find a solution to the Kurdish issue that has been going on for more than 30 years. Instead, these not-so-capable and not-so-sophisticated people who seemed uneducated and insincere and who gave the impression of being a lower caliber – they were able to find a solution?
OK, they had the advantage of being a strong, one-party government, but I mean the biggest problem in the country’s history was to be solved by these “honest statesmen” and not “us?” I did feel pissed off; I was envious. I did not trust them, but the peace process was going well. I came to the conclusion that wherever it comes from, peace was nice. I would support these guys, these “trustworthy” guys, because they brought peace to the country. I would even vote for them.
I wish I were wrong. Surely their priority was not peace. I mean they did an enormous deed; they did make us taste peace, they showed us and everybody that peace is possible this way or another. Hate does not need to win. Once we have tasted it, there is no return. We can’t go back to hating the Kurds again even though videos are coming from the southeast showing, again, new mistreatment of ordinary Kurdish civilians by army officials. But they do look extremely absurd now. Nobody approves them; we hate them. We’ve come a long way.
I mean I hate the PKK for killing our sons, but at the same time, I know the PKK did not emerge all of a sudden out of the blue, demanding this and that. They hate the state, whatever symbolizes the state and they want the life of our kids. I hate it but I know they have their reasons. I don’t believe in armed struggle or any kind of violence, but we have to admit that the PKK has succeeded in their own way. I know they are young people of this country as well. But I wish they would not resort to terror at this time, after what we have gone through. We are in a much better position than the 1990s. Let us give peace a chance, regardless of who is ruling us. As ordinary people, let’s give peace a chance…
Yes. The resolution process taught us how important peace was. Peace despite everything, despite all political differences; peace no matter where it comes from.
It was beautiful. It was nice to live without martyrs.
Then the Suruç bombing happened. Terror escalated. People went back, like idiots, to nationalistic discourse; the same sentences and ideas of the 1980s and the 1990s. We hate the PKK. Yes we do, but we also love our sons and want them to survive this mess.
In this whole process, this peace, war, peace, war, bombing, clashes, killing and terror periods, I feel bad for the poor Turkish men.
I mean, just think how their lives are shaped, the making of a Turkish man.
Our republic was founded after decades of wars that the Ottomans fought and then the Liberation War. Then Turkish men were sent to Korea. Then we had to go through an undeclared civil war. Then we fought in Cyprus. Then the Kurdish issue started. It has been going on for 30 years, causing at least 40,000 deaths.
I am talking about our grandfathers, fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and nephews… I mean poor Turkish and Kurdish men are born to fight. They are born as soldiers, they are expected to fight and die.
Who would want that?
No wonder there is something wrong with our dear and poor guys here. They cannot live a normal, decent, happy life with the entire load imposed on them ever since they are kids. They are expected to be fight for their country and their honor, defend their land and do their military service, while also having a career, making money, graduating from school, respecting their parents, avoiding drugs, being a good citizen, being a good husband, being a good father, being a good son – and being ready to die when “some people” think they should…
I mean, what kind of an impossible mission is that?
With the biggest love and hugs to mothers and sons…