Saturday, November 17, 2007


An Associated Press writer wrote at Nov 15th; "When Turkey reports the death of Kurdish rebels, it calls them "terrorists" and says they were "rendered ineffective," a euphemism designed to distance Turkish troops from the brutality of killing. But the military glorifies its own dead as "martyrs." ...

Turkey describes its war dead as martyrs, or "sehit" in Turkish. The Arabic-based term, also used by the PKK, is associated with those who die in the belief that they are fighting for Islam, but Turkey's secular military prefers a nationalist meaning. Fighters who died during the wars that led to the 1923 creation of the Turkish republic were also given that title...."

He should learn Turkey's cultural and traditional mosaic better beside the poltics.

Although “şehit” comes from “shaded” in Arabic origin and in religious context, it mainly means dying for fighting, defending one’s “country” in our minds. According to dictionaries “şehit” means “martyr” in English. Encyclopedia Britannica gives the definition of “martyr” as; “Person who voluntarily suffers death rather than deny his or her religion.””

Wikipedia gives a broader definition; “A martyr (Greek "witness") is a person who is put to death or endures suffering because of a belief, principle or cause. The death of a martyr or the value attributed to it is called martyrdom. Though often religious in nature, martyrdom can be applied to a secular context as well. The term is sometimes applied to those who use violence, such as those who die for a nation's glory during wartime (usually known under other names such as "fallen warriors"). It may also apply to nonviolent individuals who are killed or hurt in the struggle for independence, civil rights etc.”

This definition gives the meaning of “şehit”/ “martyr” for us more clearly. Turkish Islam has some specifics which ancient Turkish culture has great effects. As an example; even during the Turkish Liberation War after the 1st WW, although there was religious inspiration and in a way religion used as an important motivator, the war was primarily carried out to save the “nation”. The war was not a “holly” but an “earthly” one. Turk, Kurd, Laz, and all kind of ethnicities as well as Anatolian Christians and Jews fought altogether in the war to save the country from imperialism.

Today Turkey’s 98 percent Muslim population is from Sunni and Alevi majority. Though some percentage of these can be called only as “Cultural Muslim”, Islam is in every part of life. There are also Suryani Christian, Greek Orthadox, Armenian Catholic, Turkish Protestant churches and others as Yezidis. So the society lives a very integrated mosaic of culture.

Regardless to their religion or ethnicity all male Turkish citizens have to serve in military for a certain period. Not only the culture but also Turkish constitution defines “martyrs” in high regard. According to law “martyr” is the one; “Who die under direct fire or wounded and die because of this wounds during war. Or the one who are at the back front but died because of enemy fire or wounded and died during treatment. Who die immediately or wounded and died because of the wound during National Security duty, fighting against terror or anarchy. Protecting the borders etc...”

As seen; “defending the nation / country” is essential. Religion and beliefs of these soldiers may have a great importance in their determination and heroism individually but what they go to die for is “motherland”. Martyrdom is highly regarded not only for our own but for all regardless to their nation or religion. A good example of this cultural acceptance is the martyrdoms build at Gallipoli area for many nations (more than 30 cemeteries and memorials).

Turkish army doesn’t let any religious activities or propaganda. On the other side, the terrorist organization PKK is not a “religious” terrorist organization. It founded as a socialist liberation organization of Turkey’s Kurds but turned to an “ethnic nationalist” terror group.

Two of the last martyred soldiers by PKK were also Kurds. Kurds are not a minority but essential group founding this republic. These young boys born, raised, lived at the same lands, share unseperable traditions.

PKK is not the representative of all Kurds. But ofcourse it will call the fallen members as martyrs too in it's own concept. And do you think there are no Turkish terrorists? Or do you think terrorists and martyrs should have certain ethinicities?

We also have "democracy" or "revolutionary" etc martys. "Martyrdom" is neither religious nor belongs to a special ethnicity traditionally etc. One should differ the defination of martyr according to "laws" (because of the legal rights of the descendants) and defination in the "culture and traditions".

This country and it's people shares much more than politics. They have common emotions, passions, devotions and all deep in their hearts. Mothers cry with the same laments either in Turkish or Kurdish. Children grow up listening same folk songs, stories regardless to language. Though the politics and imperialism brought us to this point concept of martyr in hearts may hardly change.

Take your hands of from us, our martyrs Mr X... Y... Z... Our beliefs are hard to understand for imperialist pens. Neither the martyrs in our minds and hearts can be despised or forgotten, nor the martyrs in our future, present or past.

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