Tens of thousands in Istanbul rally for peace

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Sign the petition for Iraq's three-region solution June 3, 2008 Tens of thousands in Istanbul rally for peace 

Turkish Daily News

Tens of thousands of people gathered yesterday in Kad?köy district on Istanbul's Anatolian side demanding a “peaceful solution” to the Kurdish problem. 

Many demonstrators at the gathering who spoke to the Turkish Daily News highlighted their demands for peace, while saying they do not believe that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an is sincere in his desire to solve the problem. 

“He (Erdo?an) does not have any problems. We have. We would not be here if his words became reality,” said Emine Üçgürbüz, voicing her opinion of the government's new action plan on the Southeastern Anatolia Project, or GAP. “We have seen all the pain. That is why we are in streets,” she said. 

The demonstration was held by the Peace Assembly, a civil society organization consisting of academics, journalists, trade union representatives, intellectuals and political parties. “Edi Bese!” in Kurdish, meaning “Enough is enough!” was the slogan for the gathering. People also chanted other slogans, including, “Peace, not war.” The crowd also chanted against Erdo?an. 

“Lies, lies, lies,” said a woman named Vahide, an elderly Kurdish participant who wore her traditional Kurdish garb and witheld her surname, when asked for her opinion of the GAP plan. “No one will vote for him,” she said of Erdo?an. 

“We want money to be spent for peace, not for war,” said Aziz Elito?, a resident of Istanbul for the last 25 years who left his hometown of Bingöl because of the Kurdish conflict. Elito? said Kurdish people do not want to break away from Turkey but to live together. “Kurdish people are like partridges, and they are the hunters,” he said of politicians. 

The gathering is unlikely to be the last of its kind, as the Kurdish question will continue to exist, said another participant, a non-Kurd from the southern province of Adana, who declined to be named. “But we have hope, otherwise we would not be here,” he continued, noting, “Opposition in Turkey is not well organized.”  

People at the gathering danced and sang to the music of well-known folk singers, despite the hot weather. Ayhan Bilgen, in his speech representing the Peace Assembly, called on the government to create a new constitution that would secure the institutional equality of Turks, Kurds and all citizens. Bilgen also said it would not be possible for Kurds and Turks to live together without allowing Kurdish language and literature to be freely presented in the public sphere. 

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