Kurds feel trapped between state and PKK, make plea for peace – Gülten Üstüntağ

Kurds feel trapped between state and PKK, make plea for peace

Gürcü Güneş, a resident in conflict-ridden Sur, refuses to leave her home with her five children despite the ongoing clashes in the region. (Photo: Today’s Zaman)

Locals in mainly Kurdish Diyarbakır feel trapped by clashes between Turkish security forces and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) and are calling for the resumption of negotiations to resolve the issues.

Intense clashes occurring on a daily basis between security forces and the PKK have deprived locals of any semblance of a normal life, particularly those people who have continued living in the besieged Sur district for the entire 85 days it has been under curfew.

Sur’s residents are frustrated and fed up with the battle that has led to their homes being razed and their lives ruined. Civilian casualties, which garner little coverage in the mainstream media, unending operations and the PKK’s violent methods are also being questioned by those innocent people that are caught up in the violence..

Gürcü Güneş, a mother of five aged between 1 and 10 who has lived in Sur since she was a child, spoke to Today’s Zaman about her frustration with the conflict between the state and the PKK in the Southeast.

“The country has been dragged into war again. Nothing good has ever happened [in terms of a solution to the Kurdish issue] for as long as I can remember. It is like a fireball. We try to survive in wretched conditions, our houses are damaged and we are forced to leave our neighborhoods. All my relatives are living together in this old house. I had no place to go after the curfew was imposed. Still, we had to flee Sur. We took refuge in another place, Lece village, in search of temporary accommodation. A week after the curfew was declared I returned home in spite of the risks that my family and I faced in such dire conditions,” Güneş said.

Describing the scene on her return to Sur, Güneş said: “The doors of the house had been broken. I don’t know, either police or guerillas [a term used by many local Kurds to define members of the PKK] were responsible. They turned the whole house upside down, and I don’t know what they were looking for when they did that. I knew it was risky to return home, but I preferred to die in my own home than of poverty outside.”

She also criticized the trenches dug by the PKK after the collapse of the settlement process which aimed to solve the decades-long Kurdish problem stemming from the Kurds’ desire for more socio-cultural, political and economic rights as mandated by the principle of equal citizenship.

“There are many grief-stricken mothers. I know a woman called Fatma Ateş who was living in Sur and was killed. And my brother took a child who was shot in the arm to a hospital. I don’t want to see such things happening again. I want peace. I don’t want mothers to cry anymore,” Güneş added.

‘I am sick and tired of fanatics’

While emphasizing the need for peace, Güneş highlighted the common values shared by both Turks and Kurds, such as Islam and the concept of brotherhood.

“Regardless of Apo [Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned leader of the PKK] or Erdoğan [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan], we have been turned into their punching bag. As a result, civilians pay the price in this unending fight. The only way to solve this problem [the Kurdish issue] is to start talks. What have my children done wrong? After my son’s schoolbook was torn up during a raid on my house, he was left without a book for days. My father is sick, and an ambulance cannot come here to see to him. I cannot comprehend what rights people are fighting for. It is not certain what aims they are striving for. People look at the prime minister, party leaders and mayors as if they were gods. I am a Kurd, but I must confess that Kurdish people have been humiliated [by members of the PKK]. Their actions create problems. I am sick and tired of fanatics,” Güneş said.

‘Aren’t Kurds brothers of Turks?’

Another man who talked to Today’s Zaman anonymously in Sur sees the oppression inflicted by the state in the Southeast as nonsensical because the security forces’ operations resemble a full-scale war against a very limited number of terrorists.

He, along with his family, fled Sur after clashes erupted in the area.

“I fled, not out of fear, but for the safety of my family members. If something happens to me, if I die, there is no one to look after my children. That’s why I have to survive and struggle for this,” the man explained.

Angry with both the state and the PKK, the man continued, saying: “How can anyone justify or explain a full-fledged fight against Kurds with daily shelling? We are also Muslims and live under the same Turkish flag. Aren’t we brothers [of Turks]? I did my military service for this state like all male citizens. I am 50 years old, and if a war breaks out with a foreign nation, I will be someone that joins the war on behalf of my country. What is the reason for the [state] pressure and for insulting me for being a Kurd. I am also angry with those guerilla forces that dig trenches in front of my house. What purpose do these trenches serve? How can my family and I go out? They plant bombs in them. Why do you do this to me? Don’t we share the same forbears?

This news piece was published by Today’s Zaman as well.

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