Tour of villages for Kurds candidates

Final days of election campaign in Turkey. Sunday the vote for an election which everybody calls historic. In Diyarbakir and in all Kurdish cities there is a growing feeling of expectancy and belief that after 12 June things will never be the same again. For better or for worse. But right now people prefer to think that the new chapter will be for good. The guerrillas of the PKK are in a position of active defense, but may resume armed actions after June. But these are days when people prefer to see things positively. The Labor, Democracy and Freedom Block where candidates supported by the BDP  (Party for Peace and Democracy) are standing is given by the polls as one of the surprises of these general elections. The pro Kurdish deputies were 22 in the last parliament but may reach 30. Some say 35.
The campaign and canvassing are made house to house, village by village. In an election that has so many symbols certainly one of the strongest is the one represented by Hatip Dicle. Former DEP deputy in the 90s, with Leyla Zana and two other deputies was arrested shortly after the election. Accused of separatism, the four members have spent ten years (the sentence was 22) in prison. Released in 2004 they returned to politics among the people. With their full commitment came the heavy repression. Hatip Dicle is a candidate today but can not campaign. He is in jail, held as thousands of other Kurdish activists and politicians in this mock trial started after the victory of the Kurdish DTP (promptly outlawed) in local elections of 2009. So the campaign for  Dicle is made by his companions outside.
In addition to a piece of Diyarbakir the constituency where Dicle is running includes many villages,  some are as far as 60 km from Diyarbakir, in the district of Lice. Reaching the villages is imperative for the BDP and Block activists. So a small convoy starts early in the morning for a tour of six villages. Some have only a few hundred people living in it. But all of the villagers are waiting for the convoy in a festiveood. They hung posters and banners along the narrow uphill streets. They are waiting to see the ballot paper:  little less than a meter of paper  difficult to understand.
Lice is a little townof a few thousand people. Here in the ’90s, the Turkish military burned down many villages, forcing people to migrate. Many have gone to Diyarbakir. “My village – Kaypinar mayor  Mahmut Dag – no longer exists. It was there in those mountains.” The scenery is breathtaking mountains one after another, green valleys, water. The convoy arrives in a small village, Yaprak, warmly welcomed by the people there. The mayor of Lice, Mehmet Ali Aydin, speaks of Hatip Dicle, “that is not here in person to campaign because the state has incarcerated him. I was in prison – he adds -with Hatip dicle for ten months. Now I’m out and I campaign for him. Dicle is a man who gave his life for our people. ” The block set up by  Kurds and the left sees candidates from different origins in it, Kurds, Turks, Arabs.  After nearly an hour through a landscape of mountains and hills the convoy arrives at a village called Oykulu, perched on a mountain. Low houses with flat roofs that blend into the rock. There is a certain emotion because this is a village where they speak Arabic, and especially where there are several village guards [Kurds in the pay of the government. Ed.] Young people go to university, in Diyarbakir and they came in contact with representatives of the Block for Labor and Democracy. They requested a meeting. The atmosphere is not as festive as in other villages. But the delegation is welcomed. The meeting takes place on the terrace of what is a sort of village hall overlooking a beautiful valley. The mayor of Lice speaks of brotherhood and hope. “Our block – he says – gives opportunity to all regardless of their affiliation or language to express themselves, to help build a different kind of society and life together for the whole of Turkey.” He is greeted with applause. The convoy leaves Oykulu with the belief that some votes will come from there. There is still a small village to visit. The convoy is greeted by a crowd of children waving fliers with the face of Hatip Dicle. This absence presence produces mixed feeling.There is time for one more çay, the tea served in tiny cups. Once again the ballot paper is opened on the table. And like in the other villages the meeting ends with the traditional Kurdish dance to the tune of songs which greet the guerrillas and freedom.


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