The Turkish original of this article was published as Diyarbakır'dan Silvan'a:“Ateşe kim su dökecek?” on 13th November 2015.
I would like to share the impressions and information I have received from people I know that live in the region.
In the wake of the 1st November elections, the YDG-H, the PKK’s militant youth arm, has launched yet another initiative.
The current situation in Silvan: the people are suffering enormously. The YDG-H is there, and the Hizbullah, and the state. It is very probable that operating inside Silvan (in the YDG-H ranks) are also guerrillas who have come down from the mountains, it is said. The curfew is now in its 10th day. TOMA police vehicles and armored personnel carriers are constantly on the move. Smoke keeps rising from side-streets.
The YDG-H [Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement] is constantly digging ditches and booby-trapping them with bombs. It keeps asking the ordinary people to commit themselves, to participate in the action, to dig ditches and to guard those that have already been dug. Local residents are also expected to assume responsibility for all the arms and ammunition that are being stockpiled in their houses. Those that are reluctant to comply with such impositions are branded as “traitors,” publicly humiliated, and ordered out of their homes. If the people evicted in this way want to return when things have calmed down, their requests are rejected. They keep serving public notice that “at least one person from every household must actively joint the activities of the organization.”
The Hizbullah has its sights set on those elements of the population under the influence of the YDG-H (or sympathizing with its actions). To resist the state is religiously improper, asserts their propaganda line. Or else they argue that it is sinful for men and women to be fighting side by side. What the YDG-H has been doing to places of worship is “disrespect for the faith,” they say, accusing the YDG-H of being “anti-religious” in order to gain adherents. Silvan is one of those places in the region where they are most influential. They point to the killing of Yasin Börü in Diyarbakır during that burst of Kobani-related acts as an example of the PKK’s murders. During the last Feast of Sacrifice, they clashed with the YDG-H yet again when they tried to distribute meat in the streets and it was obstructed by the YDG-H. Though there is no overt, obvious link between the Hizbullah and the state, there is a certain perception that they might be under the tacit protection of the security forces.
If, as they claim, the security forces of the state had really been treating the people kindly, if they had truly pursued a reasonable and democratic line, and if “accidental fire” had not claimed so many innocent bystanders’ lives, everything might have been very different. The popular support for the organizations [the PKK and the YDG-H] might have been less than now. At the moment, the security forces are focusing solely on those involved in violence and those that support them. They are not concerned with meeting the basic needs of the victimized and suffering people. Broad sec tions of the populace are under a blockade, and deprived of even the means to obtain their daily bread. Pharmacies are not working. Schools remain closed. Shopkeepers are unable to do any business. The people are regarded as guilty on account of the YDG-H’s actions. It is not only activists who are arrested or taken into custody, but ordinary civilians, too, are suffering from the crackdown.
In the blockaded neighborhoods, the state wants to evacuate all houses so that it can isolate the militants, while they for their part order the people to “stay put,” declaring that if they leave their houses will be appropriated.
In short, the people have truly been caught in a crossfire.
What way out?
When you question the people of the region, they respond: “Is there no one to pour water on this fire?” Their lives practically devastated by all these proclamations of “self-government” and their negative consequences, the people of the region want Kandil to revise these policies. They are also calling on both the state and the PKK to take the Solution Process out of the deep freeze, and somehow to put it once more back on track (of course, also allowing for what has transpired).
One way or the other, these current clashes are bound to come to an end, they think, whereupon one of their fundamental anxieties becomes: what then is going to happen?
Psychological, sociological, economic and ultimately human attrition is intensifying by the day, with still more to come. Sooner or later, society will need to be rehabilitated. Unemployed youth without any income; people who have lost their homes and jobs, their workplaces or businesses… How are they going to be able to re-adapt to life?
In this dirty, filthy setting, the presence of those given to exploiting and abusing the possibilities of power is also leading to widespread corruption and bribery. Some elements of the security forces are disposed to get whatever they can for themselves from all the chaos and lack of order. This, too, is having a very negative impact on the region and its people.
In conclusion, it is fair to say that the region is now being subjected to a devastation and victimization without precedent. The people are being squeezed between the YDG-H and the state.
They are looking for a solution, a way out.