As published in Radikal 2 newspaper on 03/01/2010

Bugün Diyarbakır!

Panzer tanks are a permanent part of Diyarbakır ’s streets

Two days left till 2010. Diyarbakır ’s very sad today.  I worked at the office till noon, and went shopping to get New Year’s gifts for the kids at my lunch hour. I went to the Ofis neighbourhood via the Lise street.  Ofis  was crowded as usual, but you could see the lack of morale prevailing the city. This new year’s there’s no New Year’s Joy in Diyarbakır …
A few kids selling gum surrounded me as I walked. “Big sister, buy some gum” they said. I asked “Are you in school?” “Yeah”, he said. “How much is this gum?” “ 100 kurus sister” “How many do you sell per day” “Usually 5, but on a good day I sell 10”. “What do you do with the 5 kurus you earn?”  “I buy bread, sister…”

Baran was from Bingöl, his family was forced to come to Diyarbakır as a result of the armed conflict. I gave a Lira each to Baran and the other kids and went on my way. I could practically hear my friends saying “You’re encouraging them to stay on the street if you keep doing this”. I keep handing out money to the kids hoping that maybe one day I’ll prevent one kid from going hungry…
Finally I see a toy store and barge in. All the toys are plastic. I complain “You brought all these plastics and are selling them at the price of the originals” “Sister, the originals are expensive, who’s going to buy those in Diyarbakır? ” comes the reply. I go on, the know-it-all, “Why don’t you become the distributor of a good toy company?”  He scolds me justifiably “Sister, I’ve been doing this line of work for 18 years. Who in Diyarbakır has the money to buy toys for their kids?” I remember Baran. My hands cannot reach the good toys. I end up buying two plastic Ben10 glasses for my kids. When I walk out the store, Baran is still selling gum in the corner.
I make a quick stop at my dentist across the street. Aynur’s Kurdish  song is blasting through the Ekinciler street… I’ve always contemplated on how an assimilated Kurd like me, who does not speak Kurdish can understand these songs . I guess it’s because our songs are always about the same sadness, separation, war, and death… I realize that I don’t know any happy Kurdish songs. I sing as I walk into the dentists. I’m hungry, too. The dentist says “Here’s some icli kofte my patient from Ergani brought. All my patients bring me food” I eat the koftes and think what a nice tradition it is, I hope we never lose it.
I decide to stop by IHD (Human Rights Association) on my way back to the office. I walk down Elazig street , for some reason they have army tanks on the streets. I shiver as I wonder who’s in their line of fire. Walking past the Metropolitan Municipality I see the crowd. I guess there’s going to be a demonstration. I keep walking. There are more and more tanks and I walk faster and faster. There are quite a few police cars in front of  IHD,  and I’m beginning to think everyone’s being watched in this city. There’s a big black banner in their window. Their President Muharrem bey was recently taken in. I made it to the Association. Everybody’s feeling down. It’s sort of strange. There’s no rush, no hurry. It almost feels as if no one has the energy to rise up any more. They talk about how the Mayors and their friends were arrested. Some of the families are in bad shape financially, too. The kids are miserable. Everyone’s asking what’s happening to this country, are we going backwards? Hopes are diminished again… I think back at the handcuffed pictures of the arrested presidents/mayors. I swallow hard. I am really worried. I think of their children, my children, and the Barans out on the street. I used to think the war would end with us. It didn’t. It caught up with our children. Our children are growing, asking, and questioning. I look through the tanks. More Barans are selling gum.

Today is December 29, 2009. Diyarbakır is  so sad…