“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”
~ Thomas Jefferson.
~ Thomas Jefferson.
What follows are a press release from Osman Baydemir during the Amed Serhildan (March 29, 2006) and a transcript of the press conference Osman Baydemir gave during the serhildan (March 31, 2006). In the press conference, Heval Osman recounts the attack on his convoy by Turkish special teams (Ozel Timler) during the height of the serhildan.
These two items comprise Appendix 5 and 6 of the "Report on Local Government and Local Democracy Dynamics concerning the DTP Municipalities in Turkey."
29.03. 2006—Press Release by Mr. Osman Baydemir
Dear Press Members,
Dear People of Diyarbakir,
The incidents that has taken place in the region during the last week and in our city for the last two days reached to a point that would seriously harm both the future of democracy and the will and demand of our people to live together. The city is tense, and worries are high. In the current situation, a democratic and prudent approach is what we need urgently more than ever before.
We believe that all of these stem from the inability to find a sustainable and peaceful solution for the Kurdish problem. Unfortunately, the current oppressive approaches heavily marked with a security perspective are drawing the chance for democratization and peaceful solution of the Kurdish problem into a big politics of solution-less-ness. Many people were injured by fire-arms, and, as of now, two people lost their lives because of the intervention of security forces into the protests. There are some injured who still have death risk. Again, many offices, shops and public areas were destroyed. First and foremost the government, all should approach to the problem in a civilian and prudent manner, and take responsibility urgently in this regard.
It is necessary to carry out an inclusive, widespread and civilian democratic struggle against this politics of solution-less-ness that we are exposed to. However, the methods to be used in raising demands for democratic rights and freedoms and in struggling to frustrate the increasing oppressive wave should also be democratic. Each and every activity to be carried out in this regard should have the quality to contribute to the democratic and peaceful solution of the problems.
As the city our pain is big, and we are face in face with risks that may increase this pain every passing second. We understand the worries of our people and share their pain and suffering. In the current situation, we invite once again everybody to act with prudence and steadiness and contribute to the normalization of life in order to prevent further pain and destruction.
Transcript of Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Osman Baydemir’s Press Conference
Our city, Diyarbakir, has gone through great pain and suffering. On March 28th, our city had 70 injured persons. On March 29th, the number of persons injured rose up to more than a hundred, and 3 persons’ right to live was taken away. On March 30th, 20 more persons were wounded—mostly by gunfire— and two more persons’ right to live was violated. As of March 31st, we have lost another of our injured. Looking at the general picture, there are more than 200 injured persons, and we have lost 6 lives. It is maybe easier for many of us to talk and count in numbers only; however, seeing through our hearts, understanding and feeling empathy with and putting ourselves in place of those persons’ mothers and fathers is not only a matter of responsibility but of conscience as well.
Dear Press Representatives,
All tradesmen in our city, our citizens of all ages, from infants to our elderly citizens, have been wounded deeply, we all suffered deeply. Had I shared with you the troubles that I have been through, only those, maybe then imagining an understanding the suffering of the civilians could be a little easier for you. Yet, we kept silent; we refrained from sharing and publicizing all those details for the city to calm down, for the tension not to further flare up. I can say, based on my strong belief in the bright future lying ahead of this country, that this pain should be regarded as belonging to all of us. We should wait no longer; from this day on, we should claim all of this as our shared, common suffering. (Our city needs to move forward with prudence and steadiness now.) Prudence and steadiness are what our city needs at the moment. Everyone should claim responsibility, along with an equally strong conscience, to prevent this deep trauma, this great suffering, from getting deeper and more painful. Events should come to an end. I invite all civilian citizens to stop protests and to retreat to their homes. I invite all public officers, especially the security forces, to stop gunfire, not to recourse to firearms under any condition. I invite everyone to move forward with prudence and steadiness. I believe we cannot endure to lose yet another human being, we should not be in such a position.
I will gladly answer any of your questions.
Q: Is it true that your car was attacked, sir?
BAYDEMIR: Yes, it is true that my official car was attacked; it is true that I was threatened with death; it is true that my bodyguard was attacked and injured in his eye, but I did not share these with the public. I was always under pressure, anxious not to provoke rise in tension. Given my situation, can you imagine how the civilians in the streets might have felt, the emotional turmoil they were experiencing? We were exposed to gas bombs yesterday, but we did not share these with the people in our city. However, there should not be a single more incident. We should not suffer any more deaths.
Q: How would you interpret the Prime Minister’s comments?
BAYDEMIR: From the first day of the events till this hour, together with my colleagues at the district municipalities, my Mayor friends, we have paid great efforts trying not to lose a single life; we have acted with utmost prudence, taking great risks. Carrying the future of each and every of my fellow citizens on my shoulders, feeling great respect for my fellow citizens, for democracy and for the right to live, I acted with utmost responsibility. Yet, along with carrying out my responsibility, I also tried to act conscientiously. All of us have responsibilities. We have to act in accordance with our responsibilities. Yet, our actions should also bear on our conscience. I invite everyone to be conscientious.
Q: How would you interpret the Prime Minister’s comments on your conversation with the protestors?
BAYDEMIR: Dear press representatives, looking at the picture as a whole, I am thinking, if for the democratization process to be effective, for the social peace and stability to take place, for the 6 and 7 year old children not to die any more, if for all those, Osman Baydemir needs to be sacrificed, if that would be a means, I am ready, let me be sacrificed. I do not care at all for losing my seat, but I am concerned about my people, about the future of this country, about hurting the will of these two peoples trying to live together. Bearing these concerns on mind and in my heart, together with the Chair of the Diyarbakir DPT Center and with my Mayor colleagues, I visited many locations where incidents have occurred. I tried to convince them to retreat to their homes. Maybe this was my mistake, convincing the civilians to retreat to their homes in case of danger and protecting their lives is indeed primarily the state security forces’ responsibility. Yet, amidst a very complex social situation in which the civilians found themselves faced violently by the state security forces, amidst a social situation in which the lines have blurred, we, the local authorities in the city, tried to do all that we can to reinstate social stability.) Vice-Governor was also with me at many occasions. Now, isolate a sentence out of all those that said in front of the public, and try to trace for a sacrifice. No, the social situation is different; this problem cannot solely be regarded as a matter of provocation. We are bearing the results of a 70 years long historical period, last 20 years of which were especially crucial as regards the subject. The young people I talked to at the locations of incident, the generation we have to face now is a completely new generation. We do not know them well, they are different. Now, we have to think very carefully about Turkey’s future, our common future; we are wounded deeply and we need to heal ourselves. According to our cultural traditions, condolences, pain and suffering do not allow any other protests to take place. No more stones can be thrown, no more shutters can be pulled down in a social environment in which people share their pain with their families, wish strength to each other and feel for each others’ suffering. I wish and desire that every one of us can share and feel for this pain. I am expecting that Mr. Prime Minister will also say that he shares and feels for this pain.
Q: You talked to the protestors and made a call for prudence, but it seems that this call was not effective, incidents continued to occur, what do you think about this situation?
BAYDEMIR: As I have just tried to explain, we have witnessed a social upheaval. This was a scenery unknown to us, a completely new one. This city has never gone through such an extended and continuous period of upheaval before. This is where we stand in the end of those recent 20 years. We are facing a social situation caused by a political strategy aiming at no solution. I am afraid that this strategy of no solution, accompanied by the perspective of security, will bury our wounds deeper, will make them even harder to heal. I am repeating once again, together will all my friends, I will keep on paying the utmost effort, I will do all that I can, for my people not to be hurt at all, not to bleed a single drop of blood. I will keep on acting with all my responsibility, and with all my conscience.
We do not forget.