Voices from the front : Turkish soldiers on the war with the Kurdish guerrillas
[...] Everyone in Turkey has experienced similar instances, some more some less, with or without being aware of it. Albeit no reliable figures exist, since 1984— when the PKK declared guerrilla war against Turkey—an estimated 2.5 million young men have been sent to the Emergency Rule Zone for military service. Along with their families, the situation has already affected at least 15 million; when their close relatives and friends are added, nearly half of Turkey’s total 62 million population has been affected. Indeed, not even resorting to figures, just by simply looking around us, we can already sense or witness that the hearts of our relatives, neighbors, or friends beat for their sons, brothers, or loved ones who might at that moment be fighting somewhere in the Southeast.
We further know that for the last 15 years, whether we call it “war,” “low intensity conflict,” “combating terrorism,” or anything else, many people involved, including politicians, the military, human rights organizations, the United States of America and EU officials, journalists, writers, and experts, have been talking. Yet those who have been sent to the Southeast war zones of Uırnak, Diyarbakır, Hakkari, Siirt, Mardin, and so on, for military service are only allowed to speak while they are in the military, restrained by “the chain of order and command.”
A young soldier appears on TV: “We have come here to finish the goddamn terror. I would advise others to volunteer to come here. It is a very nice feeling to climb up on the mountains and fight the terrorists. We are a nation of martyrs, and many martyrs will come from among us during the summer operations.” A youth from the Eruh Commando Brigade addresses his girlfriend Şölen: “Wait for me, and don’t you forget.” The young privates from the Çanakkale 116th Gendarmerie Basic Training Regiment send messages to their families: “I have missed my family a lot,” “I expect my fiancée Derya to wait for me and I will wait for her,” “my mom and dad are waiting for me,” “my parents, my beloved ones: I am OK, don’t worry for me.” The anchor person from the national channel TGRT is excited: “Serving in such a place is an award!”