A permanent ceasefire? Now? I’d be disappointed.

PKK fighter bearing arm, Newroz 2014, Qandil mountains. Photo: Fréderike Geerdink
PKK fighter bearing arm, Newroz 2014, Qandil mountains. Photo: Fréderike Geerdink

Busy travelling again these days between Ankara, Imrali and the Qandil mountains. And the topic that the media seem to get excited about is disarmament. Are the Kurdish movement and the government trying to make a deal about the PKK laying down its arms? Öcalan, after all, said a few days ago that a solution to the conflict could be reached within months. So, is he preparing for another ground-breaking speech at Newroz? Will he declare a permanent ceasefire? I’d be disappointed if he did. Continue reading “A permanent ceasefire? Now? I’d be disappointed.”

Amnesty for Mustafa Perisan – and hundreds like him

Last week, I moved to a new house in Diyarbakir. My apartment block has a common garden, and when I came home at night after a solidarity concert for Roboski (it’s been more than 900 days now that the truth about the murder of 34 people hasn’t come out) I was invited to sit with a group of my neighbours. We chatted, they introduced themselves. They pointed out in which houses they were living, and all told me that whatever problem I had, I could knock on their door and they would help me.

The next day, one of the women knocked on my door.

Kocaeli prison
Kocaeli prison

‘Can we talk?’ she said. I invited her in. ‘Or did I wake you up?’ ‘No’, I said, ‘I was awake already, I was working’. She sat down in my comfortable black chair, and started to cry. ‘You are a journalist, right?’ she asked. I said yes. Continue reading “Amnesty for Mustafa Perisan – and hundreds like him”

A people of pain

‘It will just be a PKK show’, somebody told me when I said I intended to go to the opening of the first PKK ‘martyrs graveyard’ in Turkey. By calling it a show, he dismissed the significance a burial ground has for any political movement, armed or not, that loses people through violence. The PKK is no different in that than the Turkish army, or the Gezi protest movement which shook Turkey earlier this summer and which had deaths to mourn as well. But burial grounds, including those of (armed) political movements, represent pain too. A pain that is too often taken for granted as part of the way to democracy in Turkey. Continue reading “A people of pain”

Undermining the peace process

It is not very likely concrete political steps will be taken in the peace process between the PKK and the government in the months to come. That has everything to do with the local (Spring 2014) and presidential elections (Autumn 2014) coming up. However frustrating that is for Kurds, who are longing for peace and constitutional rights, you could consider it part of the political game. Relatively fast peace processes, like in South Africa, are inspiring, but also exceptional. But a peace process doesn’t only contain political steps. Crucial for it to succeed are serious efforts to restore trust. The government is doing exactly the opposite. Continue reading “Undermining the peace process”

Towards a new Habur

The weirdest question I have been asked since the PKK announced its withdrawal from Turkey will start on 8 May, is whether the people here in the Southeast of Turkey are feeling ‘victorious’. How little do you know of the conflict and of Kurds to think there could be an atmosphere of victory here? It implies that a conflict has come to an end, and that there could be ‘winners’ in the end. Continue reading “Towards a new Habur”

The way to peace, according to the citizens of Diyarbakir

‘The PKK’, an elderly man says, ‘should not withdraw from Turkey. Why not? Because they are our children!’ He gets the biggest and longest applause from the people attending the first public meeting of the ‘wise people commission’ in Diyarbakir. At least five hundred people attended, in a theatre that can seat 375 people. The ‘wise people’ didn’t come to explain the current peace process to the people, as their task is described by the government, but to listen. Continue reading “The way to peace, according to the citizens of Diyarbakir”

Life without insurance

Delal’s father, a teacher at the BDP academy and accused of membership of a terrorist organisation, is still in jail. He has diabetes and wanted to go for a hospital check-up without handcuffs, but that right was not granted to him. Also still in jail: my colleague Turabi, prosecuted in the KCK case because of his writing. The families of the victims of the Uludere massacre are still waiting for the truth to come out and to get a sincere apology. The Saturday mothers, whose sons and daughters disappeared, most of them in the nineties, are still looking for their children and demanding an answer to what happened to them. Kurds still don’t have a say in governing their own lands, and still don’t have a rightful place in the Turkish constitution. So why a cease fire? Beats me. Continue reading “Life without insurance”

A new beginning

A bit over a year from now, it will be Newroz again. As they have done for centuries, the Kurds will be celebrating the beginning of their new year with huge crowds of people. Women in brightly coloured glitter dresses, men in traditional Kurdish outfit, boys and girls dressed up. Newroz fires will burn, there’ll be music, dancing, singing. The big question is: will people celebrate peace, or protest ongoing suppression? Continue reading “A new beginning”

What peace really means

The breaking news in Turkey is: the Kurds finally want peace. At the big rally last Thursday at which tens of thousands of Kurds said goodbye to the three Kurdish women assassinated in Paris on 9 January, several Kurdish politicians expressed their support for a road towards peace. First, I thought the fact that Turkish media present the Kurdish wish for peace as news was a result of never properly listening to the Kurds before. I still think so, but now I believe the problem lies even deeper than that. There is no common ground in Turkey on what ‘peace’ really means. Continue reading “What peace really means”

Dangerous game

I wrote this blog post yesterday, Thursday 3 January. While writing it, it turned out that two Kurdish politicians and one of his lawyers were visiting Abdullah Öcalan. This is remarkable, since Öcalan has had no contact with anybody but his family (and only occassionally) since more than one and a half year. The one talking to him on behalf of the state, is the highest official of the national intelligence agency MIT, Hakan Fidan. In other words: something significant is going on. Continue reading “Dangerous game”