On secrecy, myth and violence in Eastern Turkey
(Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing upon fieldwork in a pro-Kurdish community at the Turkish-Iranian border, this paper aims at exploring different narratives of violent events in Eastern Turkey.
Paper long abstract:
For more than two decades there has been an armed conflict between the Kurdish Workers' Party PKK and the Turkish military in Eastern Turkey. After the guerilla (PKK) announced a one-sided ceasefire in 1999 (which it renounced in 2001), the community I will describe here returned to a post-war 'normality'. The area is still highly militarized, but contrary to several other towns in the area, the situation has been very calm with hardly any violent incidents between the warring parties since 1999. This paper will focus on the few occasions, where violence occurred: On one hand, the (accidental) assassination of a Kurdish guard, and the capture and torture of several PKK sympathizers by Turkish military forces, and the assassination of two village guards by the guerilla on the other hand. Depending on the perpetrator, i.e. the military forces or the guerilla, these events are recounted in very different forms. Violence committed by the military is mentioned within a public discourse. The violent event is retold in extreme detail and positioned in space, thus proving the accuracy of the tale. Violence supposedly conducted by the guerilla is mystified, retold and reinterpreted. Such narratives are mostly covered with an aura of myth and adopt the form of folk tales. There is no similar public discourse, rather a public silence, and detailed knowledge of such an event is highly restricted and openly disguised.