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YUSUF KANLI >Will it be the dawn of a new era?

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It was strange to hear from the enforced life-term convict Abdullah Öcalan, a man who established the separatist terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), one of the worst death machines in the world, saying, “Let the guns be silenced and politics dominate.”

Sure it was a historic day in Diyarbakır. An unprecedented crowd gathered in a square decorated with yellow, green and red, as well as the photographs of some separatist terrorists killed in security operations, along with three activist women recently murdered in Paris. A huge “Our Chief: We are ready; we are ready for peace” placard splashed out of TV sets into living rooms and coffee houses throughout the country. In all the excitement and with hopes that it will help Turkey usher in a new and peaceful era, a letter written by an enforced life-term convict separatist terrorist chieftain, outlining the road map for a resolution to the Kurdish issue, was read out in Turkish and Kurdish…

Could Turkey’s nemesis be the new peacemaker? The call for a truce, an appeal to replace arms and violence with ideas and politics and the withdrawal of all PKK terrorists out of Turkey came in a five-page letter read out first in broken Kurdish and later in Turkish during Nevruz (or Newroz) celebrations in Diyarbakır that turned into a massive celebration of prospective peace.

The contents of the letter of Öcalan were indeed no surprise for most people because for the past many months, particularly in the past few weeks, an expectation along those lines had been building in society as under government directions, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) was directly or through proxies negotiating with the imprisoned chieftain. Fearing the collapse of the process like the previous two attempts, however, the government has been at pains to constrain society’s expectations, and the prime minister has been stressing, “What’s important will be the end result.”

Will the cease-fire hold? Will the government respect its pledge not to send security forces after withdrawing terrorists and permit them a safe exit? Will the government and the gang be able to stop “deep” elements undertaking actions poisoning the atmosphere?

Turkey is no South Africa, Öcalan is no Nelson Mandela and the Kurdish problem of Turkey has no relevance with Apartheid. Yet, a separatist chieftain who was held responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of people in terrorism-related violence, for the babies murdered in cold blood, was now outlining a road map for peace in the country at a time when an army of four-star generals who spent a lifetime fighting separatist terrorists were officially being charged by a prosecutor with organizing and running a terrorist gang with the aim and intention of toppling the civilian government.

An imprisoned Kurdish separatist chieftain, with the assistance of the Turkish government, was reaching out to the masses to explain his vision of how Turkey should be transformed into a peaceful land of coexistence of Turks and Kurds. From the times when the use of the word “Kurd” was restricted in the Turkish media to the separatist chieftain reaching out to the masses with the help of the Turkish government and indeed dictating the terms of peace on Turkey…

What is change and transformation if this is not?

Still, let’s hope for this frustrated nation that this will be a new dawn…

March/22/2013

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