‘Antiwar girl’ raises voice once again, condemns Russia-Ukraine war
Umut Erdem – ISTANBUL
A 28-year-old Turkish woman, who became known nationwide some 19 years ago for hanging “No To War” posters on her school walls, says she still feels the agony of wars in her heart, referring to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“I am very sorry for children of the world once again,” Merve Hoşafcı, who is now a freelance designer, said on March 14.
It was 2003 when the Iraq War started, and a form teacher in the capital Ankara asked his students to depict what they felt about the war.
Getting deeply influenced by TV footage showing the news about the Iraq War, Hoşafcı, who was just 9 years old at the time, prepared many posters and placards on which she wrote “No To War” and hung them on walls of her school.
The incident catapulted Hoşafcı into the country’s agenda but cost the form teacher dearly.
The schoolmaster back then accused the teacher of propaganda and started an investigation, which caused the teacher to get transferred to another school.
However, Hoşafçı got fame when many newspapers headlined the little girl as “Her ‘No To War’ stirred up trouble.”
Hoşafçı is now a university graduate living in the famous Aegean tourism hot spot Bodrum.
“When the Iraq War started, all I, as a child, thought was the children who were witnessing it. I was afraid that all the children of the world would face the same troubles they faced, too.”
Saying that she designed “No To War” posters with “just goodwill,” Hoşafcı added, “Unfortunately, due to those posters, I found myself in a [bureaucratic] war. Inspectors came, syndicates intervened in, the teacher was suspended, and I was seen as an enemy.”
However, the bad image around her in the school turned upside down as soon as the press learned about it. “Letters, flowers and gifts starting coming to the school, with notes supporting me,” she said.
Some 19 years later, Hoşafcı is once again broken-hearted due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “We see a war again after two decades when there is so much space in the earth for all of us to survive together,” Hoşafcı said. “That 9-year-old girl had hopes. But now, as the 28-year-old woman, I am losing hope,” she added.
When asked if she would do the same thing today, she replied with no hesitation, “I would if I could.”
She stated that she “feels sorrow for all the children of the world.”