ORHAN KEMAL – A statue and past wounds

A statue and past woundsOn Tuesday an armed conflict broke out between Turkish security forces and Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party (PKK) members in Lice, near DiyarbakIr Tension over a statue of one of the first commanders of the PKK, Mahsum Korkmaz, which has been erected in a cemetery in Lice, turned into an armed confrontation. I hope this will not lead a wider conflict in a way which will threaten the process aiming to solve the Kurdish question.

However, the people who decided to erect this statue, I am sure, knew that this would cause something. Maybe they wanted to get this result.

But I also believe that these kinds of gestures which indicate the glorification and consecration of armed conflict points to a wider problem in Turkey. Turkish people have not faced up to past atrocities carried out by state agents against Kurds, nor has the PKK ever confronted the dark side of its past.

Like the Northern Ireland peace process, Turkeyand#39s peace process is also based on andldquoforgetting.andquot In the end, we will forget what happened in this country.

We will not scrutinize how security forces set whole Kurdish villages on fire, how they killed and tortured so many victims. And Kurds will also forget how the PKK brutally killed civilians, how they employed terrorist methods, how they created execution mechanisms for their own members who were quickly declared traitors or Turkish agents.

We could have followed a different path, though. Like Nelson Mandela did in South Africa, we could have looked at our past and all these tragedies with the aim of rehabilitation, grievance and emotional healing.

In South Africa, when they were leaving behind the apartheid regime, they established Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. In these commissions, not only the atrocities of the racist regime but also those committed by armed groups come to the fore.

The aim was not to punish the perpetrators but to provide a platform on which perpetrators and victims came face to face.We saw how fragile the Northern Ireland peace process is, when the allegation that Gerry Adams ordered the murder of a widow some 30 years ago came to the surface.

The whole process was shaken because all of a sudden, the memories that people think they have forgotten are resurrected. I believe that without dealing properly with the past, there is no such thing as forgetting, because no one forgets what happened in the past.

We, however, can heal if we deal with the past, if we grieve over it.For those who erected the statue of Korkmaz in Lice, the PKK is a glorified organization which has never made any mistakes.

Otherwise, the first statue they ever erected would not have been Korkmaz. I put aside the possible aim of some who carried this out of provoking Turkish nationalists.

But what I understand is that there are not very many people within Kurdish groups who strongly reject this idea Probably no one cared too much what kind of memories the erection of this statue would stir, how people who lost their sons in this battle would feel, and so on.In our peace process, which I wholeheartedly support, there is no andldquosoulandrdquo at all.

There are no grievances for past wounds. There is no looking inside ourselves, into our hearts.

There is no feeling of the pain and suffering of others. And all this make the process quite fragile.

We witness this once again on the occasion of the erection of the Korkmaz statue and in the ensuing events.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman