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Observation report on Dersim

Observation report on Dersim

Tarih 20 Temmuz 2013, 18:56 Editör

12 members of the Women's initiative for peace visited the Tunceli region on 29-30th May in order to observe the peace process and the retreat process. During this two day period, they met with women activists from AKP, CHP and EMEP, as well as with some of the female staff of the Tunceli municipality and visited Kamer the construction site of the Sinan Outpost and the women's observation tent of BDP.

Observation report on Dersim

 

12 members of the Women’s initiative for peace visited the Tunceli region on 29-30th May in order to observe the peace process and the retreat process. During this two day period, they met with women activists from AKP, CHP and EMEP, as well as with some of the female staff of the Tunceli municipality and visited Kamer (Women’s Centre), the construction site of the Sinan Outpost and the women’s observation tent of BDP. These observations led to the following findings:

 

1. Environment:

The barrages constructed across the Peri Suyu have turned the river into a body of still, muddy water. The houses and fields situated on its banks were flooded. (sacred locations were reportedly inundated, as well)

The choice of location for kalekols (fortified outposts), built on water banks and mountain hills, is criticized for interfering with the daily life of inhabitants.

Most importantly, around these karekols, there are signs indicating mine search, which according to our interviewees, were set up for excavating gold, chromium and copper.  Marble quarries were visible in the direction of Kovancılar.

The plateaus, inaccessible before the start of the peace process, have become picnic sites for large groups of inhabitants. Feeling much more secure than before, women go for walks on the plateaus and along the Munzur River. Our group interviewed several journalists, who try to uncover and photograph the remains of the victims of (the) 1937-8 (massacres) at locations such as the Kutu Creek.

Three barrages were built and plans are said to be on the way for the construction of four more in the Munzur Valley. Among widely raised claims are gold cyanidation and the upcoming construction of three thermal power stations. Rumours about future environment projects continue to circulate, making the inhabitants even more concerned. Evidently, it is crucial to provide inhabitants with substantial information and to hold meaningful debates with them on changes that will have a crucial impact on the local level.

 

2. The retreat

The interviewees are happy that there are no more deaths; however it was expressed, both implicitly and explicitly, that the retreat process will leave the Alevi faith and Dersim unprotected vis-à-vis the state. The fact that the Alevis were not mentioned in Öcalan’s Newroz speech worsens these concerns.

The retreat of riot control vehicles (TOMAs) from Dersim and the reduced frequency of helicopter patrols over the region have a positive impact on the inhabitants, but during all of our visits and casual conversations, the presence of heavily armed soldiers in the neighbourhoods were brought up as a serious matter of concern. Women complain of coming face to face with these soldiers every morning when they step out on their balconies for breakfast. At the city entrance, our group saw riot control vehicles and armoured personnel carriers (Akreps); the special teams are said to be on duty in Dersim.

Outposts continue to stand along the roads; at observation posts, soldiers keep guard with their fingers on the trigger of their arms. Initially, our group was denied access to the tent site. (The Şehit Mehmet Outpost on the Nazimiye Pülümür road) While the matter was being discussed with the commandant in charge, one of these arms was fired (by mistake, according to what a major later told our group). After the tent, the outpost was visited; when the issue was brought up once again, the commandant of the station said that the soldier in question had been immediately relocated and the issue was taken to the district attorney. However, it became evident that as long as those arms remain in their current position, they are ready to be fired; today, it was an accident, some other day, it may very well be the other case. The tremendous rage that inhabitants keep under control is of particular importance. Inhabitants keep each other in check: a woman, who became furious during the incident, later apologized to others at the tent.

The kalekols are reportedly constructed on sacred locations or massacre sites. The Sinan Kalekol, which our group visited, is situated on a hill overlooking the Düzgün Baba. The kalekol in question is still under construction; but similar kalekols were observed along the way. The inhabitants see the construction of kalekols as a test of sincerity, which the state seems to fail.

52 outposts are reportedly being built; 5 kalekols, 16 mobile stations and 31 underground stations, which are completely invisible except for their towers. Mines are said to be laid on private lands and 15 thousand unexploded ammunitions are said to exist in the Dersim region.

Students are under considerable pressure; they do not want to appear on TV. Student houses run by religious groups are becoming widespread. The police reportedly contact the students’ families. The students who speak with members of the wise people commission (akil insanlar heyeti) are said to receive threats.

SUMMARY: TRUST-SHATTERING APPROACHES PREVAIL

 

3. Women:

The group was told that female village guards live in Pertek and Pülümür; our group was persuaded not to visit Pertek on the grounds that access would be denied and it would be dangerous. According to information received by Kamer (Women’s Centre), there are female village guards in Pülümür: These women responded to job announcements and received 10 days training. Since their admission as guards, they make tea at outpost kitchens, do cleaning work and clean arms whereas men are sent out to stand guard.

Prostitution is a serious problem; demands for a brothel are said to have increased since the start of the retreat process.

It is perplexing that women’s complaints about the constraining effects of the soldiers on their daily lives convinced the commandant in charge of the fact that their presence in the neighbourhoods does in fact create an actual problem (which makes one think of the honour issue). At the tent, women didn’t (or couldn’t) bring up any other issue; here, too, it was mostly men who spoke.

Mothers for peace had been there for 10 days, visiting each and every house. Women are being scared (fear) the most because in cases of sexual abuse, rape and abduction, the perpetrators were always soldiers and village guards; with the retreat process, it is feared that girls will lose protection against these attacks. 

 

4. Political parties:

            During visits to the municipality, to the AKP, CHP and EMEP headquarters, female members were interviewed. The same issues were raised or implied by all the political parties. Worries relating to the Alevi faith, kalekols, hydroelectric power plants, gold cyanidation and prostitution were brought up by women of all the political parties. Unemployment and poverty were discussed in length, as well.

            Members of CHP were happy yet also concerned about the retreat process.

            AK Parti has both Sunnite and Alevi members; the former are state officials who were assigned to the city. They said that before they moved to Dersim, they had fears, which vanished and gave way to happiness. Though not expressed explicitly, Alevi women lead us to infer that membership to the party is crucial in finding a temporary job.

            Members of AK Parti brought up demands for the Constitution, mother tongue, and democratisation, emphasizing these as conditions for making peace.

            Members of EMEP had a more political and secular attitude; the Alevi identity was not stressed as much. Lack of trust in Ak Parti was expressed.

            During the meeting with CHP members, distrust of AKP prevailed, as usual. The issue of mother tongue was not raised; the conversation focused on the Alevi issue: the remark, “Turks and Kurds will make a pact and exclude the Alevis” calls for serious reflection.

            Political parties, in general, were happy that these meetings took place.

5. Emotions:

            There is tremendous rage among inhabitants; like a gene ready to escape the bottle, it lies under the normal facial expressions. The slightest sign of violence, a derogatory remark, a dirty look from the state officials, flares this anger instantly. The rage, however, does not lead to violence; the feeling of unforgiveness, all the knowledge and bitter experiences accumulated during years of war are put in circulation.

This rage remains alive due to the construction of kalekols, the fact that the soldiers do not retreat and that the government does not change its attitude.

This anger can erupt and create chaos any moment. However, inhabitants exercise good judgement and self-control; which is in fact visible in the faces and which seems to be the reason behind this calm atmosphere. It should be noted that, during the Gezi occupation, there was an upheaval in Dersim, which received harsh police intervention. This issue needs further investigation and follow-up.

Along with rage, is a concern which is rooted in the region’s past: “We are going to be massacred, again” was a sentence the group heard during the interviews.

By saying “We, too, need peace and happiness”, they voice their support for the process but do stress that their worries are greater than other regions.

Bu haber 1501 defa okunmuştur.

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