To the Irish friend ‘please step aside’

To the Irish friend ‘please step aside’

The Irish Times has printed an article about me.

My objection to the monument that the mayor of Özalp district in the eastern Turkish city of Van wants to build is criticized in this piece that reads “Istanbul” in its byline.

The reporter is Nicholas Birch. I don’t know him personally and have no information if he is Irish or not. But I did learn that Birch closely follows Turkey. And I do not want to believe that he has acted with ill-intentions.

The article is titled “The massacre the Turkish media would like Kurds to forget.” Birch is referring to my article as “Turkish media”.

I wouldn’t know how one can make generalization by having only one article in hand. You decide. But I do write this piece as a response to Birch.


My dear friend,

Please step aside and leave us alone, for a while at least. Leave us alone with our own Turkish and Kurdish brothers. Let them communicate among themselves. Don’t you see, we have been talking already.

I have even been invited to join a live broadcast on ROJ TV. For the first time in 30 years, we are discussing this issue in-depth. I recently went to a concert by U2. I know they are Irish.

We applauded the Irish flag at the concert. And now, leave us alone. That’s what we want. Either my article was mistranslated or you like interpreting this in just the way you like. Let me explain one more time:


We will of course remember the pain we go through. We will remember in order not to repeat it over again. But we do want to forget at the same time. If we don’t, memories will come back and haunt us. The rage inside and even the grudges will not otherwise die.

So our wounds will not heal as we keep itching them. This is all I want to say. You bring up the “massacre of 40,000 people” again.

Do you want us to all the time talk time about babies, soldiers and women killed in bombardments; people lost their lives in suicide bombings in Kuşadası, Marmaris, Antalya and Bodrum?

We are trying to resolve this historic issue. Pardon me, but we don’t have the luxury of satisfying your Orientalist idealism of the 19th century. We, perhaps for the first time in our history, are openly and with political boldness discussing the matter.

And if you really want a solution to this conflict, please stay away. Please step aside and let us proceed. Will we get anywhere by erecting a monument after every single painful event?

Let’s say that we freeze the issue today. But will mothers say lullabies of hatred to our babies every night?

If every one is to mourn himself, if everyone is to promise revenge and if everyone is to leave a grudge as a legacy to his children, why do we live then?


Yes, I say in capitals that similar attempts are just SHOWS!

Yes, I do say both “let’s forget and let’s remember” at the same time. It is easy to build a monument to every painful memory. It is even easier if you have the municipality’s support. But if we resolve this issue once and for all, we will be able to erect common monuments for our common agony tomorrow.

This is the best way to remember. If we are to live in the same country, under one flag, we should be able to create this feeling of being united. So, please step aside.

We are alone for the first time and are able to have talks now. Don’t poison it.

 * Mr. Ertuğrul Özkök is the editor-in-chief of the daily Hürriyet in which this piece appeared Friday. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff