I am not Turkish, nor am I Kurdish. To be honest, I know relatively little about the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. Nevertheless, I am particularly sad about the recent developments, about the growing tensions, and of course about the Suruç and Ankara bombings. Actually, I am rather angry than sad.
I am angry to read that the streets of Diyarbakır are being militarized. I am angry to hear that Erdoğan’s AK Party is using the Kurdish question to polarize the country just weeks before the elections. And I am sad to observe that the electoral exploit of the left-wing Kurdish party (HDP) has so far led to more tensions than solutions.
I walked through the streets of Diyarbakır just four summers ago. The city was surprisingly vibrant, and the people were at the same time friendly, welcoming and full of hope for a peaceful future for Diyarbakır, which they call Amed, and for Turkish Kurdistan as a whole.
We were welcomed and treated as family members by Halit and his parents, who we randomly met during our trip to the city centre, and apart from sharing some of their delicious food and traveling together to the beautiful bridges, villages and cities along the shores of the Tigris, we lengthily discussed about our mutual dreams and hopes. We talked to many people during our voyage through Turkish Kurdistan, and we understood that what the hopes of the tea vendor in Şanlıurfa, the traveling student in Mardin, and the hopes of Halit all had in common, was the desire to live in a peaceful and prosperous country, as a fully-fledged Kurd and a fully-fledged Turk at the same time.
On our last evening, Halit’s father asked us to spread the word of peace for Kurdistan in Western Europe, to do our best in The Hague, Brussels and Rome to find a peaceful solution to the sleeping conflict. Halit’s father posed great expectations on our shoulders, while I acknowledged that in fact the influence of three young travellers is rather limited. I would like to think that this feeble call for peace might be my first repay moment for the beautiful people of Amed and for the precious hospitality I was awarded with in Turkish Kurdistan.