06 February 2008
Gün TV, Bia News Center
A march against cross-border operations in Northern Iraq, organised by the pro-Kurdish DTP, was sent off by some 20 thousand people in Diyarbakir. Convoy joining from Istanbul was held up after constant searches.
In order to protest against the cross-border operations by the Turkish Armed Forces in Northern Iraq, the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) has organised a march from Diyarbakir to Sirnak; there are around 280 kilometres between the province capitals.
The marchers were yesterday sent off by around twenty thousand people in Diyarbakir; the crowd applauded and shouted slogans.
Participants from around Turkey
Thousands are said to have joined the march and came to Diyarbakir from 28 cities around Turkey.
DTP co-chair Emine Ayna, and DTP politicians Ahmet Türk, Selahattin Demirtas and Diyarbakir’s mayor Osman Baydemir, as well as other pro-Kurdish politicians came to the meeting place together and were greeted enthusiastically with shouts of “Amed (the Kurdish name for Diyarbakir) is proud of you.”
Ayna addressed the crowd, saying: “Hello dear people from Amed, dear Kurds, dear people of Turkey. You have not left us anything to say. Whatever needed to be said you said anyway. Now it is up to us to bow before you with respect and love.”
Ayna pointed out that the military operations which had started on 16 December were still continuing. “We came together and said that the people have the power to stop these operations. Today the Prime Minister, the Chief of General Staff and the President must listen to you and consider your demands.”
“A dream of no bombs”
Ahmet Türk said, “Your efforts and labour for freedom, for peace and for the future have been seen by the world adn cannot be denied. I congratulate you. We have a dream. We are following a dream where there are no bombs and no operations.”
Baydemir spoke in Kurdish, saying, “I greet you all from the bottom of my heart. This march is a march of honour. We march so that no mother has to cry for her children any more. We want an honourable life and we want the whole world to see it.”
After the speeches, hundreds of cars set off towards Sirnak.
Convoy from Istanbul delayed
Other groups coming from Istanbul had not been able to arrive in time because their convoys had been searched many times on the way. On Monday (4 February), a bus with DTP Istanbul MP Sebahat Tuncel, DTP Istanbul Province Chair Halil Aksoy, Socialist Democracy Party (SDP) Province Chair Yaman Yildiz, and SDP Chair Filiz Kocali set off from Istanbul.
The protest has also been joined by the Labour Party (EMEP), the Society and Law Research Foundation (TOHAV), the Peoples and Freedoms Front, the education trade union Egitim-Sen, the Socialist Platform of the Oppressed (ESP), and the Lever Social Freedom Platform.
Between Istanbul and Ankara, the convoy was searched eight times; every province had court orders ready for the period between 2 and 9 February. One search, for instance, was justified by the threat of suicide bombers having entered Turkey from Northern Iraq.
Kocali described the searches: “The luggage and people are searched. We had been searched eight times by the time we came to Ankara. These are not reasonable searches. The court orders were read out, the IDs collected and a general ID check was carried out.”
“However, we will get to Sirnak and stand guard there. We are sorry we missed the send-off in Diyarbakir. But we are enjoying ourselves, we dance at each checkpoint.”
Kocali talked about the aim of the march:
“They have been bombing mountains and rocks for a while. We believe that this is more than intimidation. But operations have been tried many times. We are going in order to draw attention to the possibility of dialogue and peace. There are signs that there will be ground operations in spring. Turkey is entering the territory of its neighbouring country. The use of terms like ‘security zone’ and ‘buffer zone’ can turn into Turkey’s occupation of Northern Iraq. We know that it is Turkey’s strategy to enter the EU by becoming dominant in the region and that it wants to be powerful militarily. But this is not a beneficial path to take, it will lead to both civil war and regional war.”
“Let us provide domestic peace, let us solve our own Kurdish issue within the rules of democracy and without violence.”
It has been reported that the march has not been approved by the Ministry of the Interior, but according to Sabah’s news website, the marchers have been given permission to camp at the foot of Cudi Mountain for a night. (NZ/TK/AG)
Thousand Hail The March Against Cross Border Operations
06 February 2008