Leer het van de beste! Ja, ik zeg het gewoon zelf, want van freelance correspondent zijn weet ik inmiddels álles. Niet alleen over de journalistieke inhoud, maar ook over het ondernemerschap dat er onlosmakelijk bijhoort.
In de tien jaar dat ik als correspondent in Turkije werkte, publiceerde ik in de meest uiteenlopende bladen: van Viva, Flair, Elle en Jan tot HP/De Tijd, Volkskrant Magazine, Groene Amsterdammer, Wordt Vervolgd, Opzij en the Independent, Al-Monitor, BBC, VRT en NPO. Kortom: noem maar een titel en er stond een Turkije-stuk van me in. Daarnaast schreef ik (bijdrages voor) verschillende boeken.
Dus, wil je worden geïnspireerd en geïnformeerd? Wil je volgen in het voetspoor van mensen die in de afgelopen jaren deze workshop óók volgden en hun koffers daadwerkelijk pakten? Er is nog plek op 6 september! Meld je aan voor de workshop in Utrecht!
Published on the World Post/Huffington Post, on 2 May 2016.
Finally, after over a decade in power, the true face of Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is surfacing. The speaker of the Turkish Parliament, Ismail Kahraman, said that the new constitution that the AKP is preparing will have no reference to secularism.
AKP officials quickly denied the intention but many Turks felt as if an idea was planted in their brain — an idea they would have to get used to. Fearing a secularism-free constitution would be the first step towards introducing Shariah law in their republic, secularist Turks immediately started defending secularism fiercely. Apparently, they do not realize that this secularism got them in trouble in the first place.
(Background article in Dutch weekly Groene Amsterdammer about Turkey’s decision to join the fight against ISIS – but whom is Turkey really fighting? Published 29 July 2015.)
Een adembenemend gezicht was het wel, de F16’s die voor de wassende maan langs over Diyarbakir vlogen en koers zetten richting het zuidoosten. De ene na de andere steeg op, twintig op z’n minst, eerst met bulderend geraas over de stad, daarna over de vlaktes tot de bergen net over de grens met Irak. Daar lieten ze hun lading neer, op de regio’s Zap, Qandil, Hakurk, Qadesh, Habur, Haftanin, Avasin en Amediye, allemaal gebied dat onder militaire controle staat van de Koerdische PKK en waar de organisatie haar kampen heeft.
De eerlijkheid gebiedt te zeggen dat er ook F16’s in zuidwestelijke richting vlogen en bombardementen uitvoerden op IS-stellingen aan de grens bij de provincie Kilis. Maar dat was slechts gesputter vergeleken bij de stortbui die op de PKK terechtkwam. Terwijl het narratief toch is dat de Turkse regering eindelijk heeft besloten op volle kracht mee te doen met de oorlog tegen IS. Het land heeft zelfs, na jaren aandringen door de Verenigde Staten, besloten de belangrijke luchtmachtbasis Incirlik bij de zuidelijk stad Adana open te stellen voor Amerikaanse gevechtsvliegtuigen die aanvallen willen uitvoeren op IS.
‘Apologizing’, Abdullah Demirbas told me in an interview last week, ‘doesn’t weaken you. It makes you stronger.’ We were talking about (what else these days?) the commemoration of the Armenian genocide. Most stories you read about it these days deal with how the Turkish state handles this black page in its history: defiant, in denial, harsh, without love. The Kurds show that there is another way. Continue reading “We were all from Digranakert”
Sayın savcının son yıllarda yazdığım bazı yazılardan kopyala yapıştır ile aldığı cümleleri gördüğümde, hemen aklıma savunmam için aynı metinlere başvurmayı düşündüm. Örneğin Kürt kimliği üzerine İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi’ndeki bir konferans için yazdığım metinden bazı cümleler var. Van’da röportaj yaptığım, dağa çıkıp çıkmamak konusundaki düşünce sürecini anlatan bir öğrenci hakkında yazmıştım. Bu, her açıdan kimlikle ilgiliydi, çünkü ona göre, gerilla olmayı seçmeden çok önce bir insanın kendini gerçekten tanıması gerekiyordu. Kendini değerlendirdiğinde, kararını geciktirmişti çünkü ondan bir gerilla olmayacağına karar vermekten çok korkuyordu. ‘Belki’ dedi, ‘her şeye karşın karşısında mücadele ettiğim sistemin içinde yaşamak isteyeceğim.’ Continue reading “Savunmam: kimlik ve basın özgürlüğü”
(This is the English version of my defence in the trial against me, read out in Turkish in Diyarbakir court on 8 April 2015.)
When I saw the sentences the respected prosecutor had copy-pasted from some of my writings from last year, I immediately wondered if I should draw on these writings in my defence. For example, there are a few sentences from a piece I wrote for a conference at Istanbul’s Biligi University, about Kurdish identity. I wrote about a student I spoke to in Van, who talked about his deliberations on whether to go to the mountains or not. It had everything to do with identity, because in his view, you had to know yourself really well before you could choose to be a guerrilla. And he postponed really looking at himself because he was so afraid that he would conclude that there was no guerrilla in him. ‘Maybe’, he said, ‘I will find out that, despite everything, I prefer to live inside the system I am fighting against’. Continue reading “Identity and the core of press freedom – my defence”
‘He’s going to ask for acquittal’. My lawyer walks over to me from his place in the court room and sits down on the chair next to mine. He whispers it in my ear, while the prosecutor continues his plea. ‘He hasn’t said it yet, but I know it from the way he is developing his plea. This will be an acquittal.’ And indeed, a few minutes later the prosecutor demands acquittal. I have to wait till Monday for the final verdict, but I start to smile: the court case against me ends without conviction.Continue reading “No, it’s not justice prevailing in the court case against me”
Six, I think every evening when I go to bed. I should get up at six. That’s around the same time the sun rises, so I would be able to catch as much sunlight as possible and not spend most of my waking hours in the dark. But of course I hardly ever manage to get up that early. There’s nothing much we citizens of Diyarbakir can do to avoid our fate of living in darkness.
At least, as soon as winter time has started. Suddenly, it starts getting dark right after 4 in the afternoon, and towards the end of December it starts even earlier. This is not, like in the north of Europe, because the days are so short, but because the time on the clock is just not in line with reality. Continue reading “One nation, one language, one flag, and one time”
East Timor, spring 2003. The country, formerly a part of Indonesia, which is again formerly a colony of the Netherlands (but East Timor was, before becoming part of Indonesia, not colonized by the Dutch but by Portugal), had been in existence for one year. I jumped on a plane and flew there to make stories about the then youngest country on earth. I think a lot about that trip these days, while many people are talking about the Kurds taking their opportunity in disintegrating Iraq to carve out their state. East Timor too was building a nation.
East Timor is a tiny little country, only a bit more than 15,000 square kilometers, so about the size of Diyarbakir province. Still, it is so rugged that several languages existed there: people living two villages apart from eachother could sometimes hardly communicate since visiting each other had been too hard for centuries.
Contributing to the lack of unity of East-Timor were the occupiers and oppressors, Portugal and Indonesia, who for centuries did not allow an own East-Timorese identity to develop. Eventually – long story, google that – the people managed to gain independence on 20 May 2002. Continue reading “Why the Kurds are not united”
A new era is starting in my life. Well, it started in the summer of 2012 when I moved to Diyarbakir, but now I am really leaving the previous era behind me. The era when I lived in Üsküdar, on the Anatolian side of Istanbul. For the past one and a half years I managed to sub-let, so I didn’t have to give up the lease on this nice apartment, but now new tenants have cancelled their reservation for two months. It was, I feel, the moment I have been waiting for: you don’t always have to make decisions in life, they are usually made for you by circumstances, and your task is to recognize them and act upon them. That’s what I am doing now.
Why didn’t I give up the lease immediately when I moved to Diyarbakir (‘Amed’ in Kurdish)? First of all because that felt like too big a step: I love the small two bedroom place and wasn’t at all ready to give it up yet. I didn’t have to, I felt, because I found tenants easily and that covered the rent. Secondly, when I moved to Diyarbakir I had no idea how long I would stay. Three months I thought initially, just to be closer to the subject of my book (Roboski massacre). A friend offered me to move in with her in her Diyarbakir place, so we could share the rent and I didn’t have to buy all kinds of furniture immediately. Continue reading “My life in one place”