The motherland

When talking about the Kurdish issue and the initiative that the AKP government is taking to solve the problems, it sometimes seems that there is a big gap between Turks and Kurds. That the whole matter is black and white, two adversaries standing opposite each other. That this is not the case becomes clearer now that the Kurdish question is openly on the table and discussed all the time.
A matter that brought tears to my eyes was something that occurred last week during an iftar dinner hosted by President Gül. The fast-breaking dinners are used by politicians to meet all sorts of social groups, and Gül decided to have iftar with family members of soldiers who lost their lives in the fight against the PKK. An old woman was also present, and Gül wanted to talk to her. He asked who she had lost, but she didn’t answer. The situation became somewhat awkward, until somebody told Gül that the old lady didn’t know any Turkish but spoke only Kurdish. An interpreter was brought in, and then the two could talk. It turned out her son was a soldier who died in a confrontation with the PKK. Then Gül asked if he or the state could do something for her, and she replied: ‘The motherland has done all it could.’
The story was all over the newspapers, and in my eyes, that is part of the Kurdish initiative. Gül is a different president than his predecessors: he doesn’t stay in his ivory tower in Ankara but gets in touch with the people. Ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable that an ordinary mother would have dinner with the president, let alone that a Kurdish interpreter would be called in to make communication possible between the president and a Kurdish-Turkish mother. Of course papers write about it, and in that way it is made clear once again how everybody suffers from the violence, how this Kurdish woman sees Turkey as the motherland (and that she is definitely not the only Kurd who feels that that is what Turkey is), but that Turkish is not her mother tongue, and how all men with a Turkish passport, including Kurds, can lose their lives in the violent confrontations between the Turkish army and the PKK. Or, in short, how badly a real and lasting solution to the Kurdish issue is needed.

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