Last night I received a call from a friend of mine who was a representative in the Turkish parliament for many years and a popular politician. She asked me what she would need in case of detention. Last week I was detained because of my Tweets against the war in Afrin, and now she also expected to be detained. I told her to prepare a small bag with a towel, slippers, toothbrush, medicine and clothes to keep warm.
Then I received similar calls from other people who expect detention because they are against war.
But, I am not sure that this “witch hunt” against peace-lovers will only end in detention.
A few days ago, on music channel Kral TV, between music videos, host Ali Şentürk said:
“The police should shoot the people who are against the war in Afrin whether they are parliamentarians, businessmen, or journalists”.
In another popular entertainment program, hosts have targeted 170 intellectuals who signed a letter against the war in Afrin. In the program, they read the letter sentence by sentence with the pictures of the 170 signatories. The hosts labelled these intellectuals as “traitors” and said that those traitors do not have a right to live in this country; they should be expelled from the country. One of the signatories’ job contracts was ended by her university because of the letter.
A campaign on “change.org” has been launched against these 170 “traitors” to revoke these “terror-lovers’” Turkish citizenship. I am also one of those “traitors” that signed the letter and I really don’t know where to go. This is my country, my land, my home and I don’t want to leave. And yes, I am against war!
A few days ago, the Turkish Doctors’ Union (TTB) made a public statement, which called war a “public health problem” and criticized the hostilities in Afrin. Two days later, after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan labelled the doctors as “terrorist-lovers”, threats of violence began against the union. On Tuesday morning, Turkish anti-terrorism police raided the homes of eleven TTB members, including its president, Dr. Raşit Tükel, and other members of its central committee. One of these doctors was Şeyhmus Gökalp, a very well-known practitioner and my friend. They took him from his home in Diyarbakır and sent him to Ankara. Only one day after his detention, he was dismissed from his job at the Diyarbakır Central Bank.
This reaction has scared people into silence, but silence is not safe either. Whether on the news or on entertainment programs, artists, film stars, singers, writers who are silent about the war are being targeted. They are being criticized for not saying anything to support government’s war policies. Their silence is an admission to supporting peace. They could also be “traitors”!
Yesterday, Yasin Aktay, an AKP parliamentarian wrote in his article in Yeni Şafak newspaper that “to be against war is the most hypocritical, dishonest and inconsistent ideology in the world”.
We are all in prison in Turkey. In this prison, “peace” equals terrorism. Every day people who criticize government policies are put in prison or forced to leave the country. Everywhere seems dark, without light and hope. Only a few years ago, we were full of hope.
In April 2013, I visited a house in a poor district of Diyarbakır; Alipaşa. A woman and her small son were at home. The peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK had just started. While we were talking about the peace process, Azad (means ‘freedom’ in Kurdish), who was 7 years old, was playing with a ball on the floor. There was a picture of a young boy on the wall. It was a picture of Ayşe’s elder son, Jiyan (means ‘life’ in Kurdish) who was a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Ayşe thought that when peace comes, her son Jiyan would return. She believed she would see her son within a year. She was full of hope, her eyes were bright.
While we were talking about “peace”, Azad left the ball and came to us and asked “Dayê barış çi ye (Mother what is peace)?” That small boy thought that, “barış” (peace) is something that will bring back his brother who he has never seen and only knows from that picture and from his mom’s tears. Peace means the return of his brother. With his little Turkish he told me that “peace will come, brother will come”.
His brother couldn’t come. Maybe he is not alive. Azad is still waiting for peace.
There was a cartoon on social media yesterday. In the cartoon, a woman was calling her son: “Savaş, Savaş come home”. “Savaş” means “war” in Turkish. The small boy looked at his mom and asked “Mom, why are you calling me ‘Savaş’? My name is not ‘Savaş’, my name is ‘Barış’”, a boy’s name which means “peace” in Turkish. She was too afraid even to even say “peace”.
Today, in Turkey, “peace” is forbidden.