Mount Ararat is the witness
Destiny works in mysterious ways. April comes with rain showers and a sea of flowers in the east. Under the majestic silhouette of Mount Ararat, this magical land’s people saw destiny manifest itself again. After 100 years, finally we have learned not to give up on each other. And we did not let our brothers die in vain.
What happened in Diyadin, Ağrı, over the weekend was deeply troubling. There were very few reports about a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Even Twitter, which quickly falls into the trap of rumors and retweets, was silent until Sunday morning. All former soldiers and military experts I talked to were repeating the same line: “It is very strange and it could turn out to be very dark.” Those who witnessed the fighting in Dağlıca or looked into the reports from the Aktütün raid by the PKK suspected something different this time.
As politicians rushed to blame each other, there was something obvious. One Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) politician had died when trying to get in between the PKK and the TSK. It was also obvious that the PKK sympathizers, who have been on the front pages of all opposition papers for months, the armed young militia, the “local law-enforcement forces,” as they say, were present and armed at the scene. But they were always present anyhow. The new factor was the Turkish Armed Forces or the Gendarmerie that had been kept away from the fire.
I had witnessed a similar scene in Mürşitpınar, Suruç, in the early stages of the Kobane siege in September 2014. The HDP supporters had wanted to march to the border in their thousands. Some officers at the border fence preferred to talk to the local HDP organizers (who were probably sympathizers of the PKK as well) to avoid chaos. “Make groups of 10 or 15,” one young lieutenant said.
“You coordinate the passage and the return. We won’t search people’s clothes or belongings. We will simply protect the border so that nothing happens to our citizens.” Such warm dialogue happened rarely, but it worked miraculously.
In Ağrı, last weekend, Turkey’s very timid and fragile peace process was tested against all odds. And it was obvious that Kurds understood the risks they would face if a single soldier was killed. Much more was at stake for the HDP and the Kurds of Turkey than the politicians in Ankara that ordered the soldiers to be placed there. HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş’s shocking words came in like bullets to many in the west on Sunday. “They left 15 soldiers there to die,” he said. “They planned it so that coffins would come out of that place, so that they can win the elections. Parents should learn this. Especially the ones that send their sons to the military.”
So after all the political bickering, hodgepodging and ferry trips to İmralı, we have one thing that is absolutely certain. There already is a “monitoring committee” for the peace talks. There already is a “third eye,” and that is the people. Ordinary citizens in Diyadin had witnessed the first breach of the peace talks and intervened at the sake of losing one of their fellow citizens. No wise men/women, academics, journalists or lobbyists in Ankara or Istanbul could have done this better. No committee, no NGO could have achieved such a great and fast result.
And this is what we call, “We the people.”
The Great Mount Ararat should bear witness that this land should no more experience tragedy. We lost thousands of our ancestors 100 years ago because of a proxy war. Now Turks and Kurds together should honor their promise to the sons and daughters of the Armenians that had to flee the land of Ararat. Never again. Never to anyone.