We’re counting around eighty deaths this last week. In the early hours of Wednesday the PKK killed 24 Turkish soldiers, on Tuesday five soldiers died, and now the Turkish army is hunting down the perpetrators and has, they claim, killed around fifty of them. It is totally obvious that this will only lead to more deaths. But politicians don’t seem to care, and the public loves the retaliation message from the government.
I look at it all and the more I think about it, the more amazed I am. It’s only common sense that you cannot fight violence with violence, isn’t it? When one child hits another child, do you tell them to keep hitting each other harder and harder to make the fighting stop? Do you bring in some extra kids when the aggression increases? Any father or mother doing that would be considered a pretty irresponsible parent, but from politicians at war this behaviour is just accepted. Even though in war there is more at stake than scratched cheeks and black eyes, namely the lives of young men (and women).
Why doesn’t anybody stand up against this circle of violence? That’s not a difficult question. Turks are brought up from their very first day of life with the idea that it is good to die for their country. Doubting the violent strategy of the state is unthinkable and even considered treason. Parents are often proud to have sacrificed a son for the homeland. Shouldn’t the government act responsibly and not automatically give the people the violence that they chant for, but do everything to stop it, even if it means not taking revenge and thus angering the public? They should, in my humble opinion. And now is the time. Not only because any time is good for a step towards peace, but also because there are no elections coming up for some time.
But the government doesn’t show any courage, and all that tells me is that it is not genuinely committed to ending the conflict. Neither party to this war is. The PKK hits hard in the week that the parliamentary commission starts its work on the new constitution, which could actually make a huge contribution to solving the Kurdish question. It weakens the hand of the Kurdish MP’s in the commission. The PKK was secretly negotiating with the Turkish state, but that has been broken off and the PKK can’t stand to be left out. Besides, the PKK is of course an organisation that chose to have only one tool, and that tool is violence. They desperately want to survive, they want to be heard, and they know of no other way to reach that goal than by spreading death. If they lay down their arms, it automatically means it’s the end of their very existence.
That’s not the case for the state. The state has more tools than violence. A state that stops fighting, a state that stops killing, doesn’t dig its own grave. On the contrary: it gains strength on every level possible. In the end, what counts is not who started the violence and who is ‘entitled’ to defend itself, but who is brave enough to stop killing and start talking about peace. Shouldn’t we wake up and expect such a brave step from the government? Even demand it?