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Friday
Jan182013

Turkey Feature: 10,000s in Funeral Ceremony for Kurdish Activists "Peace Now!"


Despite the Government's warnings about "provocative support", tens of thousands of mourners gathered on Thursday to lay three assassinated Kurdish women activists to rest in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

The  ceremony was peaceful. There were flags of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on the coffins --- including that of PKK co-founder Sakine Cansiz --- but not many were waved, in comparison with previous gatherings. There was even no posters of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdish movement who is imprisoned on Imrali Island. This was Turkish citizens bolstering the peace process rather than seeking vengeance. 

Funerals and tears did not mean an omission of politics from the ceremony. The coffins were carried on women's shoulders, a clear message to the dark hands behind the assassination that Kurds do not fear the outcome of peace talks. It was a message reinforced by white scarves symbolising the continuation of hope.

While the coffins were taken to other locations for burial Diyarbakir was an important stop on the way --- "a political centre", in the words of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas.

The BDP's Ahmet Turk assured the crowd that deaths were not in vain and sent his message to Ankara:

We have always been in search of peace. They have always demanded submission from us. But the Kurdish people have made up their mind, and wouldn't accept anything other than freedom.

We also expect the same sensitivity from you. You are bombing Kandil while talking about peace at the same time. What kind of a peace-loving attitude is this?

Demirtas continued:

We have not sworn to take revenge. The families of the women killed didn't swear to be avenged either. May mothers no longer cry, their families said. Now is the time for peace.

The crowds have now dissipated and life is back to its routine, with strained political relations, both in Diyarbakir and Ankara. Both the Government and the Kurdish movement declare that they are ready for peace. 

But --- recalling those ten thousands who gathered yesterday with their white scarves --- will it happen?

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