Original by Darya Aslamova published by Komsomolskaya Pravda; translation by J.Hawk
Why am I not a soldier? Why can’t I kill? I have always been taught that the pen is mightier than the sword. What intellectual naivete! Right now in Turkey, in the city of Diyarbakir, the mad dictator Erdogan is killing my friends, the Kurds, and even if I should, it will not save them.
This and subsequent photos were taken by the city’s inhabitants
I can only read their short messages (electricity in the city has been cut off, and the phones are charged by generators). They send me sad and horrifying photos which were covertly made from a window: tanks in the street, corpses. Since Monday, March 14, there is a continuous curfew in the city. There is no food or water. People risk their lives to go outside and find food, and they often fail to return. Their bodies litter the sidewalks.
Diyarbakir street-fighting casualties
According to eyewitnesses, there are tens of fatalities.
Three months ago, I and my Kurdish friend and translator named Erol were sitting in the heart of Diyarbakir, in the ancient Sur which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But UNESCO could not help. The city’s curfew had only just ended. There were barricades everywhere, the ancient boulevards were turned upside down, historic mosques shot to pieces and windows shattered all over the city. There was no electricity. We sat in a dark cafe by candlelight and drank cold wine. We already knew of the 14 killed civilians (mostly women and children), but were still talking like worldly Europeans. “He’s really not crazy, Erol said of Erdogan. Turkey is part of Europe. It’s not some Syria. Turkey is seeking to join Europe, which means that Europe and the US won’t allow a Kurdish genocide here.”
Some naive pups we were. We could not even imagine that the oh-so-moral Europe, scared to death by the flood of refugees, will instantly betray all imaginable human rights. That Erdogan, acting as if he were an Ottoman sultan, will dictate the terms: 6 billion euro up front, visa-free travel regime for Turks starting in June, and complete silence regarding his crimes by the European media. In return for his assurance that he will TRY to stop the migrants.
Kurds observing Turkish armored vehicles at a checkpoint in Diyarbakir
As soon as the dirty deal took place, already in the evening of March 15 I received a desperate message from Erol: “TO EVERYONE! Emergency announcement! I and my family, together with tens of thousands of civilians are locked up in our homes for the duration of the curfew and are trapped here. Many innocent people have been killed and wounded last night when the clashes between the Turkish army and the Kurds began. There is no water or electricity. There is heavy fighting around us.”
The once-busy intersection is littered with abandoned cars. A Turkish armored car in the top right corner.
Whole families are fleeing the fighting in the city.
I didn’t get any news from my friend for a whole day and was certain he was killed. On March 17, he wrote that his house in the Baglar district (the most densely populated part of Diyarbakir) was hit bya shell. Two of his married sisters lost their homes. He was able to flee with his mother and his favorite cat. They lost everything else. They spent a few hours under the rain and the shells until friends took them in. The last message from Erol was: there is constant fighting all around us. Erol, together with his mother, cat, and friends will attempt to get to the airport. This worldly, well educated individual, an atheist and a skeptic, now writes in every message “Pray for us!”