Oppression against Kurdish people was at its most intense during the late-1980s and 1990s in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces. Thousands of families lost their homes and villages were burned to the ground. A system of local armed forces called the “village guard” (known as “korucu”) was established.
These local forces aimed to force Kurdish villagers to work both as armed forces and informants against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the region. Villagers who refused to work for the state in this manner were exposed to all kinds of state violence, including torture, killing, forced dissappearances and forced displacement from their communities.
Medine Kaymaz’s family is one of the families that was displaced from the southeastern province of Mardin (Mêrdîn), Jin News reports.
Living in the western province of Izmir, Kaymaz has been struggling for peace as part of the Peace Mothers’ initiative since the 1990s. Kaymaz’ son has been imprisoned for 26 years and her daughter joined the PKK 21 years ago.
Kaymaz said they migrated to Izmir due to persecution. “They said they were protecting us from the terrorists, but they burned down our villages. Who is a terrorist? Everyone should know, as long as we are alive, we will fight. We are fighting not only for the Kurds, but for everybod,y so that this cruelty and tyranny will end. We want peace for everyone,” she said.
Kaymaz believes that it is the mothers who suffer the most in war. ”Soldiers are our children, too. The state has no right to send the soldiers to kill our children. We are sorry for the soldiers as well, they all have fathers and mothers, but the state’s heart does not burn with the pain of these soldiers,” she said. “Our children are not on the mountains for war, they are there for the sake of their language and people.
“We are mothers, we don’t want anyone to be hurt. We are against this war. They either put our children in jail or our children go to the mountains. The state destroyed everyone’s home and the state is responsible for this war.”
She said that Peace Mothers face serious opposition. “We are constantly called to the police station and asked questions about our chidren,” she said. ”I was detained four times. Regardless of my old age, they handcuffed me while in custody. They are never respectful to the Peace Mothers.”
However, Kaymaz emphasises that the Peace Mothers are committed to supporting the cause for peace. “This is cruelty, this is injustice. As long as we keep breathing, we will demand peace,” she said.