Having for two years embarked on 1 September World Peace Day under the shadow of the state of emergency, Turkey is this year greeting World Peace Day under permanent state of emergency conditions. We encounter a period in which parliamentarians, journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates are detained, those calling for peace are prosecuted and the Peace Mothers and Saturday Mothers are dragged through the open spaces. There are shared expectations, from jurists to academics and mothers to women victims of war and violence. This is the world and the Turkey which inhabit the dreams of Cumhuriyet’s interlocutors on 1 September World Peace Day:
Understanding not polarization
Istanbul Bar Association Chair Mehmet Durakoğlu: World Peace Day this year coincides with a period heavily laden with rubble from the wars that have been continuing for a long time in the environs of our country. We are experiencing not just the dramas of people whom war has dragged from their homes, but also the accompanying drama of migration, which takes tangible form in the corpses harvested from the open seas. This migration and death to which senses are gradually dulling are unable to get onto international bodies’ radars, as most recently in the Yemen example. In fact, if peace moves from conceptualization to a state of consciousness, not only in environments of war, but also in environments of peace, it can flourish and thrive. In this respect, our country must comprehend the value of Atatürk’s watchword, “Peace at home, peace in the world” and be capable of spreading the meaning it expresses into its part of the world. The world will become civilized on learning the magic of the notion of “peace.”
The thing we need most today
CHP Party Assembly Member and former Member of Parliament detained in Silivri Prison Eren Erdem: I have been imprisoned for 63 days. My toughest night in jail was the night following the beating taken by the Saturday Mothers in Taksim. The thing that grieved me most among four walls was the ill treatment meted out to the mothers and relatives of the missing. Blocking your ears to this demand is unconscionableness. We are also passing through a period in which the world is once more being dragged into war. The history of humanity shows that nothing has been resolved through wars. The thing we need most today is peace. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s pronouncement “Peace at home, peace in the world” is more important, instructive and capable of giving guidance than ever.
Peace needs work and must be insisted on
Dr. Yonca Demir, one of the Peace Academics: A lot happened after having signed the text that saw us being referred to as the academics for peace. It is impossible to list everything. Since December 2017, in fact, we have been on trial in serious crime courts. We have monitored many hearings and have watched sessions. A number of points relating to peace made by one of our friends in their statement were to my liking. They said in effect: Peace is not just a ceasefire. It needs work. There is need not to respond to provocations and be insistent. For it to be sustainable, non-violent means of communication must be used that will create an environment of non-violence.
Must be demanded more robustly
Academic and Documentary Maker Can Candan: It is very pregnant with meaning for me to commemorate World Peace Day in the Turkey of 2018 in which there are people who are branded “terrorists” and “traitors,” prosecuted, arrested, tortured, detained, kept in prison without being given a fair trial and unlawfully deprived of their jobs, livelihoods, right to education and passports for having demanded peace. Living divorced from violence and in peace, and demanding this, is one of the most fundamental human rights. Social peace is purely and simply only possible with individuals’ doing their bit and taking responsibility for peace. There is a long tradition of demanding peace in this country. I think we must draw strength from this tradition and, as all those who are struggling for peace, express our demand for peace all together more robustly.
Like water, peace is a basic need, too
Güler Buğday on behalf of the Peace Mothers: With there being the option of having two-way discussions with one another, why should we endure conflict? Why are we losing this people’s children? Peace is important for us mothers. The Saturday Mothers have been seeking a single of their children’s bones for years. The violence suffered last week by the mothers who have voiced their demands for years in Galatasaray Square is indicative of how urgently we need peace. Nobody who calls themselves human should remain silent in the face of this. Like water, peace is a basic need, too. Peace is life. War is destruction. All mothers who have lost children in conflict in this country should congregate, be they Laz, Kurdish, Turkish, Circassian or Alevi, on 1 September World Peace Day. It is very hard to wish for peace in this country. Mothers experience the same anguish but cannot share their feelings. We have called out to the mothers of the fallen many times. I call out to all women from here. Come and join hands. We have also called out to the government many times. I wish to repeat this. Stop harassing all the peoples who desire peace and are being crushed in conflict. Enough. You know, you say, “Heaven is beneath mothers’ feet.” You are the ones who make mothers cry and drag them on the ground. Face up a bit to your own reality. None of us has any option apart from peace. You speak of outside forces and the like. Well, let us first bring about peace among ourselves.
For children to live
Neslihan Karyemez, Labour Party (EMEP) member who spent some time in detention for having called for peace with reference to the Afrin operation: For me, Peace Day means ending the place violence, blood and death have in children’s lives. There being peace in the world means a reduction in child deaths. There being peace in the world means women and children not being raped. There being peace means individual rights not being usurped. Peace here and now.
Let there be no more fallen
Ali Taştan, father of Tolga Taştan who lost his life on 5 September 2012 in the ammunition explosion in Afyon: Let peace finally come to the Republic of Turkey. Let news of the fallen no longer come. Let us use our religion, our brand and everything we have to good ends. I hope that with the grace of God ridding our country of ill-intentioned people will come to pass. As a father of one of the fallen, I want justice and peace to come to this country immediately. 1 September is my birthday. As to my son, he lost his life on 5 September. I do not believe there is justice and the law in this country. Justice means pride, honour and living. I hope it comes to our country one day.
It is the people that are bearing the brunt again
Gamze Mehmethan, wife of Infantry Senior Sergeant Fatih Mehmethan who fell in action during the “Olive Branch Operation” staged in Afrin: I am a person who believes in world peace. They start wars needlessly. Many fall in action because there is no peace. Hosts of innocent people suffer torment. It is the people that are bearing the brunt again. I want everyone to experience peace with all their heart. My prayers also take this form.
Opposition to arms
Nihat Palandöken, father of Helin Palandöken who was killed by the man she rejected: As the father of Helin who was killed by the man she rejected at the age of 17, I am campaigning to stop the endless spate of women murders and in opposition to individual arming that has caused the death of thousands of people. Opposition to arms is the defence of life and the embracing of peace.