What a Victory Day!

What a Victory Day!

Turkey was marking Sunday the anniversary of the Great Victory with ceremonies, limited to a presidential reception and commemorative events. With a Prime Ministry order, all festivities were banned. Why? Because of the national pain over the loss of beloved sons to terrorism related violence… A reason which has become routine of the country after the death of the three-year-old “Kurdish opening” during which the gang, apparently armed to the teeth, prepared for increased violence while those ruling the country were busy with some other petty things, such as elevating themselves to all powerful positions.

The loss of five to ten leftists, rightists but mostly young people and occasionally prominent lawyers, unionists, writers was the pre-1980 routine. There was no Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) violence during those years. The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) gang was mercilessly murdering Turkish diplomats in world capitals. Five ambassadors, four consul-generals and 25 junior diplomats and security people at Turkish missions fell victim to ASALA. Up until the Paris Orly attack in July 1983, the world was deaf and blind to Armenian crimes. World governments were all hiding behind lofty anti-terrorism statements, while many of Turkey’s Western allies, particularly France, were in many ways discreetly abetting and indeed supporting the terrorists.

ASALA vanished from the active terrorism picture in 1986, two years after the PKK entered the scene, to take over and play its own role. Since 1984, Turkey has lost over 35,000 sons and daughters, toddlers, teenage students and elderly people. Of course, not only those murdered at a Diyarbakır bomb blast in front of an education premises, in the attack of the gang to exterminate an entire village or in exchange of fire with the security people were “our sons and daughters.” Those who lost their lives on the mountains left an immense pain in our hearts as well because even if their actions were not appreciated, they were “our sons and daughters” despite everything. How could sons and daughters involved in some despicable or even heinous undertakings be disowned?

This country that lost so many beloved ones to terrorism could not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to political leadership heralding “an end to the cries of mothers” or “civilian resolution” to the worst problem of the republican history of this nation. All along, people had worries; some people expressed their criticism and underlined the absence of real commitment and sincerity both on the sides of the government and the gang. It was stressed repeatedly that the process was doomed to fail and collapse if it did not primarily focus on disarming the gang and engaging a “civilian element” rather than the “imprisoned chieftain” or the “terrorists up on the mountains.” The civilian Kurdish element was reluctant to undertake responsibility. It was much easier to rely on the gang, hide behind the imprisoned leader and suffice ripping the benefits. However, if there was not a Kurdish civilian party, Turkey ought to have helped the creation of one if it indeed wanted a civilian-negotiated resolution. Similarly, the gang, if it wanted to achieve anything, must have seen that it could not defeat the Turkish state but might negotiate a way out with some real achievements. How? Only through allowing the creation of a civilian, Kurdish political movement.

Neither side was sincere. One wanted to elevate himself to the super president position using the terrorism and peace card and made flip flops all along the road, depending on the winds of the political climate. Not only was he sometimes determined to continue the opening at the expense of his life, sometimes he was as clear as telling those who thought different than him to pack up and leave the country. The gang and its civilian extension, on the other hand, preferred to engage in lofty propaganda, empty discussions with the government and score easy victories through impositions. An example? The Dolmabahçe declaration. Instead of focusing on achieving something worthy, “truce” time was spent in stockpiling ammunition and arms throughout the country and organizing for an “uprising.” The autonomy or self-rule moves are just a part of that “uprising,” which is likely to push Turkey yet to another calamity.

With body bags flown to various parts of the country almost every day, the country has made such a rapid and painful return to its 1990s climate. Was there anything wrong in that lieutenant major’s cry after his lost brother, a captain? What has happened so that those who were ready to die for the Kurdish opening started to say death to war?

Victory is always painful. Celebrating it years after might be joy if conditions of the day allow festivities. But scoring a victory is always painful. This country needs to score a new victory, a painful one against terrorism. Bombarding Islamic State of the Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets together with the allies, or attacking PKK targets is no big deal; can we sit and really engage in making a national peace with all members of our society? An honorable peace for all of us? Is it not enough? Has not the time come for real engagement with all members of the family, in sincerity, for an honorable and negotiated peace?