‘Peace bridge’ of 1969 rebuilt in Turkey’s Southeast

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‘Peace bridge’ of 1969 rebuilt in Turkey’s Southeast

The opening of the new bridge in Hakkari is set to be held Oct 1  with a 'peace concert' featuring Kurdish and Turkish bands and  musicians. Milliyet photo
The opening of the new bridge in Hakkari is set to be held Oct 1 with a ‘peace concert’ featuring Kurdish and Turkish bands and musicians. Milliyet photo

A bridge built in Southeast Anatolia in 1969 by members of a revolutionary student group, and subsequently bombed, is being reconstructed and will be inaugurated in early October with a peace concert at a nearby stadium.
A key symbol for the Turkish left, the Bridge of the Revolutionary Youth was originally built over the Zap River in Hakkari province by leading figures in the country’s revolutionary university movement as a reaction to the construction of the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul. The Zap bridge was bombed by unknown parties in 1999.
Announcing the completion of reconstruction after a year’s worth of efforts, author Cezmi Ersöz, who initiated the project, told participants in a press conference Monday that the bridge was “bombed by enemies of peace and justice.”
Rag?p Zarakolu, a publisher and human-rights activist who was part of both bridge projects, said 1969 was the year the revolutionary movement reached out to the country’s working class, villagers and Kurds. He said members decided to build the bridge to make a lasting contribution to the lives of locals.
“I am making a call here, let us direct the energy of the youth to reconstructing the demolished Kurdistan,” Zarakolu said.
Describing the original bridge as “one of the temples of the Turkish left,” former Esenyurt Mayor Gürbüz Çapan claimed the bombing in 1999 was the work of the government and said such projects are necessary to promote peaceful coexistence. “A call must be made of ‘Peace right now,’” he said. “War is easy; it escalates in a moment. It is peace that is hard.”
The Bosphorus Bridge, now the first of two crossing the Istanbul strait, sparked controversy leading up to its completion in 1973. Opponents criticized the use of public money for the $200 million project at a time when much of the country outside Istanbul lacked basic infrastructure such as electricity and running water.
Asked by the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review if the revived peace bridge in Hakkari is a response to plans to build a third bridge over the Bosphorus, Ersöz said the timing was “coincidental; actually it is a good [coincidence].” He added that the group does not support construction of the third bridge in Istanbul.
Peace concert
The opening of the new bridge in Hakkari is set be held Oct. 1. A “peace concert” featuring Kurdish and Turkish bands and musicians will be organized at Hakkari Stadium the following day. Bus service will be provided for people who want to travel from other parts of the country and members of the group who worked on the project will fly to the nearby province of Van and then travel to Hakkari by car. A condolence visit is also planned to Hakkari’s Gedikli village, where nine people were killed when a bus was struck by a roadside bomb Sept. 16.
A concert by various artists was held in Istanbul in 2008 to finance the new bridge over the Zap River, but it did not raise enough funds. Individual and organizational donors who stepped in to fill the gap will be thanked with a plaque to be placed near the new bridge, said Ersöz, who also thanked Hakkari Gov. Muammer Türker for his support for the project.
“This time, we will also put a sign that says, ‘Please do not bomb this bridge,’” Ersöz said.
The reconstruction initiative received support from dozens of nongovernmental organizations, municipalities, civil servants and other individuals, including Çapan; actor, author and director Y?lmaz Erdo?an; singer and director Mahsun K?rm?z?gül; and ?i?li Mayor Mustafa Sar?gül.
Daily Milliyet and its then-Editor-in-Chief Abdi ?pekçi contributed to the late-1960s effort and the newspaper is the press sponsor of the current project


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