|The smashed busstops in Kadıköy on September 1st|
I turned 40 on September 1st. My friends took me on a picnic and swim to Heybeli Island--it was a strange, unhappy day despite all our best efforts. All day long there was a tension in the air--nothing felt right. When we got off the ferry that night in Kadıköy, we found the area around the wharf devastated by rioting. The glass around the bus stops was smashed. The newspaper kiosks were also crushed. The windows of the Conservatory were broken and police barricades littered the streets. We called Hocam (Delal's father)--he had been part of a peace protest that day and we were worried something had happened to him.
'The police attacked us,' he said. 'Some of our young men were carrying banners calling for the release of Öcalan. They got mouthy with the riot police and the police responded by throwing tear gas (the solution to everything). Within minutes it was utter chaos.'
I remember the busride home that night, straight through the rubble around the wharf--nothing good would come of this.
Almost two months later--this happened.
Last night, when I got home, Delal had prepared a Kurdish meal of keşkek and pırgaç—one a buttery porridge of bulgur, the other a hearty bread traditionally eaten by shepherds. All over the TV was the news that the PKK had attacked a town in Hakkari the night before and killed 24 ‘martyrs’. The whole country was up in arms, and being part of a Kurdish family suddenly felt like a dangerous thing. All over my Facebook were Turkish friends posting denunciations of the BDP, the mostly Kurdish political party that Delal and I acted as election monitors for. People called them terrorists, collaborators, traitors—though the party itself and all its members have time and time again denounced the attacks. Lies! Everyone screams. And that’s the problem really, as usual, that everyone is out screaming hysterically—unquestioning, violent nationalism is the mood everywhere you look.
Delal keeps erasing people on my Facebook page that display the Turkish flag. The flag waving I can understand—though I have never been a flag waver. When your country is attacked, you feel attacked and the flag is an easy and powerful symbol of nation and solidarity. What enrages Delal is, of course, that the flag is used for a lot more things than protecting Turkey—and the people who wave it generally are not the gentle patriot type. Under that banner, thousands of Turkey’s own citizens have been tortured (in Diyarbakır’s infamous prison number 9, for example, and indeed all over the country). Whole races have been massacred (the Armenians,the Chaldeans, the Suryani, the Dersimlis, the Alevis) or driven out of the country and homes by state sponsored violence (the Greeks in the 50s, the Kurds in the 90’s, the Romany). The symbol is tainted by the fascist regime of Kenan Evren in the 80s and the legions of murdered in its name. Now Kurds are once again ‘the enemy’ and quite normal people are crying for blood—the blood of my wife and her family. And as they shout their battle cry, that flag is in their hands. I feel the threat, too. The whole ride home from school, the flag was everywhere and it felt like the watching eyes of some Big Brother.
‘They’re sending in 22 battalions into Iraq!’ Dede cries when I got home. ‘All hope for peace is gone!’
My Kurdish family members do not approve of the attack. They are not happy those men died. They are not secretly funding the PKK. We all sat last night together and watched the news in horror. And yet they are targets today.
The BDP is in trouble for NOT calling the attack an act of terrorism. Since it targeted soldiers and gendarmes, I don’t really think it fits either. Terrorism, as I understand it, is a political attack against unarmed citizens. This fits the bombing in Ankara a few weeks ago, but not an assault on soldiers. It's a war and you don't need to call it terrorism to be sad about its casualties. Of course, reason is not what people want. It’s blood. I am reminded of the United States after the 9/11 attacks. People all over the country who resembled Muslims were attacked and in some cases, murdered brutally. The mentality became a primitive, brutal, tribalism and I don’t think it has really lifted all that much. It’s ugliness still leaves a stain on everything we touch. Now Turkey is sending an invasion force into Iraq to combat the ‘terrorists’ while the very people who support the invasion still point the finger at the US in false indignation—‘How dare you invade Iraq! Think of all the babies you’ve killed!’
Hypocrisy, perfidy, opportunism—the human cocktail.
I felt the same sort of sick feeling in my stomach this weekend when we watched Inside Job—a documentary about how the financial ‘engineers’ of Wall Street robbed the country blind, plunged the world into a Depression—millions upon millons out of work, plunged into poverty and robbed of their homes--and they were never punished. These same people are on the TV now condemning the Wall Street protesters for instigating ‘class warfare’ and ‘pitting American against American’. And everyone sits around nodding like a bunch of Stepford Wives. Doesn’t the corruption stink up their own mouths as they say this shit?
Next on my blog agenda is something funny to wash all the world’s filth out of my head.
I mourn the soldiers killed--some of them could have been my old students--and I mourn also the murders yet to come from both sides, one of them with the might of a modern State behind it.