Mehmet Elma – Istanbul
Medya News spoke to Kurdish students of Boğaziçi University, which has witnessed major protests of the students since January against the ‘trustee rector’ appointment by the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
While the people of Turkey have had a ‘nightmarish’ year sharpened by an increase in the polarities of social differentiation, repression of fundamental rights and freedoms amid the Covid 19 pandemic’ in 2020, the Turkish government keeps up the tradition of assault and attack in 2021.
Boğaziçi protests have become a spark of hope for all those oppressed segments of society whilst the government tried to label the students’ resistance with a “terrorism” discourse. Medya News spoke to some Kurdish students of Boğaziçi University, who were preparing for university entrance exams in 2015 amid the fierce clashes during the curfews in the Kurdish-majority cities in Turkey.
Three students Medya News talked to preferred not to share their names due to security reasons but they were keen to express themselves. They are referred to as students ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’.
Please tell us about the effects of the curfews in your city
Student ‘A’: Curfews started in December 2015. I was a student in high school. I was preparing for exams (my university entrance exam). They led to major trauma: I have difficulty in finding the right words to describe the violence I encountered in those days. It has been five years now. I was 17 years old at the time. It is said that ‘I’m always 17′ for Erdal Eren: the ones who encountered that violence remain all ’17’ today. Life has been twisted in there for us. It was imposible to dream in those days, let alone be admitted to a universiy. The foundation of our life long war was laid in those days.
Can you inform us about the period after your admission to Boğaziçi University?
Student A: After I was admitted to Boğaziçi University, I spent my days looking for somebody from my culture, from my region. I always feel the need of meeting somebody who has also witnessed our pain. My Kurdish friends with whom I met those days always helped me with keeping my anger and fight alive. In the first days of the Boğaziçi resistance, we all were bewildered. Yes, there is a resistance in here, too. However, we did not know about resisting in this way. I mean, such methods of resistance are not so popular where I come from since we had to resist in other ways in parallel to the reaction of the government actors (police and soldiers). The reaction of the police to your action is directly proportional to your success and my participation in the Boğaziçi protests started at such a point.
When people say that the protests in Boğaziçi are not only about Boğaziçi, they are actually right. My resistance is about my anger at those 120 innocent civilians killed in the basements of Cizre. One hundred and twenty: this is the number of people who were burned to death. This is my motivation to stand up and resist. And I will continue my resistance.
Do you participate in the Boğaziçi protests as part of ‘belonging’ or in ‘anger’?
Student B: An exhibition was organised on campus. I was entering a process in which I was losing my identity and drawn into deep debates regarding the coordination of students. I did not feel like a part of Boğaziçi resistance anymore. At some point, I was running from this resistance and at another point, I found myself back in it again. My break away point’s name is mother Taybet.
Mother Taybet was murdered in Silopi on December 2015: her dead body remained on the ground for seven days. Her funeral was only able to be organised after 23 days! For how many days did the ‘Kaaba picture’ stay on the ground? How many hours?
How many people have been arrested and detained for participating in the Boğaziçi protests? A brief summary for you: 11 people have been arrested, 25 people were placed under house arrest and more than 600 people were taken into custody. But how many people have been detained for the killing of mother Taybet İnan? Zero! No investigation has been opened regarding ther killing.
I witnessed the truth of Mother Taybet in my home and two streets down from where she was killed.
I was preparing for the university entry exams amid the trauma of the killing of Mother Taybet. Police used to raid our homes arbitrarily: they used to check our wardrobes and took our underwear as a ‘memory’ with them.
Some people say: “There is no difference among the people in pain”. I don’t know. In Boğaziçi, I think we have different pains. If a dog is run over by a car, the dog’s body cannot remain on the ground for hours. But they did not let us retrieve the dead bodies of our people from the ground for days (She plays a voice recording of Mehmet Tunç before they were burned alive in the basement of Cizre. Mehmet Tunç was a local Kurdish politican and the Co-Chair of Cizre People’s Assembly who has become one of the most symbolic names of the Cizre resistance. His phone call was broadcast live when they were waiting for ambulances in a basement of a house in Cizre, but later their burned and deceased bodies were found in that basement).
I am taking part in this ‘white’ resistance in Boğaziçi despite everything, because I am still protecting Cizre’s honour. I support the resistance of Cargill workers, the resistance in Boğaziçi and the ecological struggle in Artvin, because I do not only resist for my homeland.
How do you relate yourself to the Boğaziçi protests? Are there any points of separation of thoughts between you and other students participating in the protests?
Student C: My friends explained our attendence in general terms already. My reasons for participating in the Boğaziçi resistance are pretty much the same as theirs, but my story of resistance in Boğaziçi started when the police put those handcuffs on the campus gate. Many students saw handcuffs for the first time, but of course it was not the first time for me. Kurds know those handcuffs very well. I recognised those handcuffs as the handcuffs they used when they arrested the elected mayors of the Kurdish people and replaced them with appointed trustees to our governorates.
It was the same handcuffs used in the Ermenek resistance, the same handcuffs imposed on the marching lawyers in Ankara, the same handcuffs used on the journalists who say ‘We will continue to write the truth’ and to the women who ask ‘Where is Gülistan Doku?’ Those same handcuffs were used on Mother Havva, a villager who resisted to defend the nature of her village against the barricades …
There exist many points where we are separated and where we are joined to each other. The trustee rector was our common point of resistance. Some of the resisters believed that mentioning the trustee appointed for the places of the Kurdish mayors may break down the resistance, but we were able to raise those issues and able to get the support from many people.
Even if we have nationalists amongst us who were separated from us, this did not detrimentally affect the resistance. Boğaziçi protests are not just about ‘Boğaziçi’ anymore. After each meeting and forum, people are asking more about the never ending police violence in the region. Police violence against such a soft resistance triggered many questions in the minds of many students: If they treat us like this in Istanbul, what have they been doing in the East?
The resistance makes us ask questions all together and enlighten the minds of the people and the ‘Generation-Z’ regarding the Kurdish reality.