Turkey’s Saturday mothers gather for the 700th time

Every Saturday afternoon a group of mothers in Turkey gathers on a square in Istanbul to draw attention to the fate of hundreds of missing people. On Saturday 25 August 2018, they gather for the 700th time. Journalist Fréderike Geerdink tells us more about the mothers.

Interview for late night radio show Met het Oog op Morgen, Friday evening 24 August, Dutch public radio. In Dutch, obviously, listen from minute 0:37:37.

Thirty-five years on, no political solution for Kurdish-Turkish conflict

Rage engulfed Turkey in late July 2018 when a woman and her 11-month-old son were killed, reportedly by a roadside bomb, after leaving an army base in the south-eastern province of Hakkari. The woman had paid a surprise visit to her husband, who worked as an officer at the base.

The deaths were blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Two days later, the PKK issued a statement claiming that it never targets civilians, and the death of the mother and child was a ‘mistake’. Turkish rage, however, was not solely directed at the PKK, as Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu clearly expressed at the funeral of the two victims. He placed the larger blame on Europe and the United States (US) for being “supporters of terrorism”, as he put it.

Published on 16 August 2018. Continue reading on Fanack website.

Enough is enough: safe zone needed in Southeast Turkey

Forty eight civilians have lost their lives in the current violence in Southeast Turkey, the Human Rights Association has estimated ( between 21 July and 28 August, so by now that number is already up again). One of the cases that especially hit me was the death of Eyüp Ergen, a nurse in the state hospital in Cizre. He was an orphan since 1994, when the state killed his parents while evacuating their village. His sibling is now the only one left of that family. It is a painful example of the fact that a Kurd hardly ever experiences one traumatic experience in his or her life. It is always tragedy after tragedy. Continue reading “Enough is enough: safe zone needed in Southeast Turkey”

No, the PKK doesn’t want the HDP to be pushed under the 10% threshold

Twenty three members of security forces have been killed by the PKK since 7 July, Anadolu Agency reported, and I’m sure this number will have increased by the time this column is published. Same goes for civilians who have lost their lives at the hands of the state, most recently three people in Silopi. And how many PKK fighters died? The army says some 390, KCK co-leader Bese Hozat, with whom I had an interview last week in Qandil, said that was just state propaganda, claiming nine of their guerrillas died. Hard to tell who’s right, but 390 seems an exaggeration when you consider the experience the PKK has in keeping themselves safe up there in the mountains for decades already.

Coffins with Kurdish flags. These two young men were victims of Suruc massacre, 20 July 2015.
Coffins with Kurdish flags. These two young men were victims of Suruc massacre, 20 July 2015. Photo: Fréderike Geerdink.

However high the numbers, the fact is that the violence is totally spiralling out of control and every day there are new families and new communities mourning the loss of a loved one. The grief over coffins is heartbreaking to see, whether the coffin is buried with a Turkish flag or with the Kurdish colours. I can only wholeheartedly join the call from HDP and CHP politicians and from academics and intellectuals to both sides to return to the negotiating table. Continue reading “No, the PKK doesn’t want the HDP to be pushed under the 10% threshold”

No, Turkey isn’t returning to the 1990s. It never even got there.

The governor of Sirnak has declared nine regions in the province a ‘security area’. This is an extension of previously established security areas, as I saw when I was visiting Roboski during Eid: the smuggling routes had been closed and the pastures where people used to graze their cattle had been made inaccessible. These no-go areas directly endanger the lives of the citizens, since they cannot earn their living and let their animals graze on good land. Eventually they may have to move away from the village, since there is no other work to be found and with the security zones the violence will increase. Is this what the state is after? Empty the villages? Continue reading “No, Turkey isn’t returning to the 1990s. It never even got there.”

‘Analysts’ about Kurds, show you know your subject, or shut up about it

Mind my words: soon ‘analysts’ will start writing that Selahattin Demirtas has chosen the violent approach to the Kurdish issue instead of following the ones who want peace. After all, he called for the people to make sure to protect themselves on the street, as the Suruç massacre has shown the citizens’ safety can not be placed in the hands of the state. Those who willingly or stupidly distort his words and his intentions, will for sure take this chance to bash the HDP. Just like the government’s media, which reported that Demirtas called for violence, although they know that the truth is far away from that. Continue reading “‘Analysts’ about Kurds, show you know your subject, or shut up about it”

Fasting from 3am and why it puzzles me in Diyarbakir

It’s around 1.30 in the morning, just after I lay down on my balcony bed, when the Ramadan drummer passes down my street. I don’t fast since I am not religious, but I don’t mind the noise, not even when it wakes me up. On the contrary, I would almost say it’s kind of soothing, and the drummer in my Diyarbakir neighbourhood bangs his drum with a solid, good rhythm, so I just listen and then fall asleep again. But I can’t help but wonder: why is Sahur around three, when the sun only rises some two hours later? Just because the state decided it that way? Continue reading “Fasting from 3am and why it puzzles me in Diyarbakir”

Don’t expect the HDP to change its vision to keep you on board

It’s a challenge for the HDP, I heard people say, that they attracted so many new voters. How to keep them on board in the longer run? Will they vote for the HDP again when there are new elections, be it in the short term or in 2019, when the next elections are scheduled to be held? What if the people who voted for the HDP only because they hate Erdogan won’t vote for HDP again because the 13% was so comfortably above the threshold that they think the party can do without their vote the next time? Continue reading “Don’t expect the HDP to change its vision to keep you on board”

The separatism behind the attacks on HDP

So, basically, the life of HDP co-leader Selehattin Demirtas was directly threatened. The bombs going off simultaneously in front of the HDP offices in Adana and Mersin not too long before Demirtas was to arrive in Mersin, where the HDP held an election rally that day, could have killed him. Meanwhile it is the governing party AKP that is trying to make people believe that the life of President Erdogan is under threat, by totally distorting a headline in one of Turkey’s biggest newspapers, Hürriyet). Continue reading “The separatism behind the attacks on HDP”

Is Turkey trying to suffocate life in Kobani again?

‘We cannot do anything to stop them coming back’, Fayza Abdi, co-president of the Legislative Council of Kobani, tells me. We talk at a conference on the rebuilding of Kobani, after in January the YPG, YPJ, the peshmerga and US bombs kicked ISIS’ butt and chased them out of the canton. ‘We tell Kobani citizens who want to return home to wait, but what can we do if they don’t listen?’
The only thing the administration of Kobani can do is to plead with Turkey to open a customs gate at the border, so not only people, but also materials can pass through. But Turkey doesn’t listen to Kobani’s pleas. What this implies really disturbs me. Continue reading “Is Turkey trying to suffocate life in Kobani again?”