The short or long way to peace

The short or long way to peace

We live in amazing times concerning the so-called “peace process with Kurds,” so all of us are therefore quite puzzled. Yet, we have to stand firm in order not to endanger this great chance!

We may have a lot of questions in mind. On one hand, the majority of Turks seem to be shocked by the course of events and have had difficulty overcoming their nationalist prejudges. On the other hand, politicized Kurds have the problem of trusting the government and the peace process in general.

Besides, the democrats of Turkey are concerned about the prospect of democratization and the possibility of “a peace with Kurds at the expense of democracy.” Nevertheless, it seems that there is great eagerness to achieve peace and it is a golden chance.

With all this in mind, I decided to observe how things are being perceived by the Kurds who are politically involved. I went to Diyarbakır first and talked to as many people as possible from young students that I met on the plane, to some lay members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), to political activists and friends from Mazlum-Der. My plan was to cross the border from Habur by car to visit northern Iraq for the first time in my life. It must be the first achievement of the peace process that it turned to be a very easy trip to Duhok. I was invited by my friend, Arzu Yılmaz, to Duhok, where she is doing her research and teaching at Duhok University. Thanks to her, it turned to be a wonderful stay and I could find a chance to discuss with her and her friends. From Duhok, I went to Arbil and everything seemed very familiar since I heard a lot about Arbil that it looked like a construction site, that it was very cosmopolitan and that there is a lot of Turkish goods and companies.

Indeed, there was a fashion show at the Arbil branch of Beymen when I was staying at the Divan Hotel.
My plan to visit the Makhmour Refugee Camp failed and instead, I found an opportunity to visit the Kandil camps. It turned to be great chance for me to observe directly the mood there. The biggest surprise was to observe the good and conciliatory mood concerning the chance of peace there.

Furthermore, I had the chance to meet Murat Karayılan and he himself assured Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) firm stance to move from an armed struggle to democratic politics. He confirmed jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s decision to open a new page of democratic politics as a new challenge and a chance to defend the rights and freedoms of Kurds. I did not want to turn it into an interview since I am not a professional journalist and I was concerned about creating political controversy at such a sensitive time. Instead, I decided to use this chance as an observer and commentator of politics to understand the Kurdish perspectives concerning the peace process.

On my way back from Arbil to Istanbul, I met Altan Tan at the airport, and we talked about the process in the early hours of Saturday morning (April 20). I came back with lots of observations, more hopeful than I expected. Nevertheless, I am more convinced now that we all have to contribute more to the peace process to overcome the difficulties on the way, since it all depends first on recognizing the difficulties to make the road to peace short or long.