Yeraltı Notları, 02 Mayıs 2008

Sevgül Uludağ


Trees of patience…

Last week we were discussing the subject `Facing history…` at a panel. Niyazi Kizilyurek was the facilitator. At one point Niyazi said that concepts like `Forgetting`, `Remembering` and `Forgiving` were being discussed. But some real life stories I discover make these words sound like `Cliches`. The `heroes` of these stories don’t need to be forgotten, forgiven or even punished –they just need to have psychiatric treatment!

The people I will talk about are difficult to call `human beings`. They are those who could not develop certain human skills, who can’t differentiate between `right` and `wrong`, have no skill for `empathy` and have nothing to do with `humanity`… I will not tell you whether they are Turkish Cypriots or Greek Cypriots. The `heroes` and the `victims` of these stories will be vague. I have encountered very similar stories in both communities. These have to do with being `human` or `inhuman` but nothing to do with being a `Turkish Cypriot` or a `Greek Cypriot`.

Some groups have done unspeakable things making `war` a `pretext`.

A group of `heroic men` gathered some very young, defenseless girls from different villages and put them in a `chiftlik house` outside their own village. This `chiftlik house` became a secret `harem` for pleasure for these `heroes` and a place of torture for the young girls.

How long did this continue? Perhaps three or four months?…

And when the young girls got pregnant and their bellies started growing these `heroic men` panicked! They killed and threw them in the wells around that `chiftlik house`. The old persons in the surrounding villages know this story well and whisper it to the others. And the `heroic men` continue their `normal` lives.

Another story: Two other `men`, whom we can put in the same category as the `heroic men`, get a very beautiful woman to rape. According to them the woman is a `gift of war`. They take her to a field to rape her. The first `hero` rapes her and then kills her. The second `hero` is very angry with the first:

`Why did you kill her vre?` he asks… `I was going to do it as well!`

The first `hero` touches the woman he had just raped and killed.

`She is still warm… Go on, do it` he says and the second `hero` goes on and rapes the dead woman.

Then they bury her in a well next to the `Trees of Patience` (Sabir aghaci in Turkish – Aloe Americana)… Years later these two `heroes` have a big conflict and they start arguing in the village coffee shop. The first `hero` says to the other `Vre! You are the one who raped the dead woman!` And the details spill out…

And the woman raped both before and after her death is left to rot in the well near the `Trees of Patience`. Only the `Trees of Patience` are witnesses to this horrible rape, the trees that we see around cemeteries, that flower only once through their lifespan and die immediately after. Yes, those trees…

The hell called `war` has made our communities real sick and these traumas have never been treated. Both the killers, rapists and those surviving victims need treatment.

What can be the aim of treating someone who has used violence? To educate him? To understand why he used violence and to make him understand that this was wrong?

But this is not done because our communities are really afraid to look at their own wounds so they cover these up – and this way, each person has to carry his or her own pain on his or her own. And each community protects its own `rapists` and `killers`, letting them survive and continue their lives! One such person – a rapist back in Paphos in 1974 – is a judge today! You might see him in court!

Some girls who have been raped from both our communities during the war are being `treated` for years but much of this `treatment` does not work. It is because `rape` is something that our communities consider a `shame` to talk about and illogically blame also the victim. In both communities, understanding, empathy and solidarity with them is not shown. They are made invisible. I know some cases from both communities where some men left their fiancées because they couldn’t accept to be with a woman who was raped!

A 12 year old girl whose mother was killed next to her spends all her life, going in and out of psychiatric clinics. A 16 year old boy who lost all his family in a massacre was given a gun at that time and told `Go and take your vengeance!` so he goes and kills couple of persons and for the rest of his life, goes in and out of psychiatric clinics. Another young man, who was raped by men during the war now dresses up and goes round the streets of Nicosia, saying `My name is….` giving a woman’s name. He has never recovered. Instead of showing understanding to this horrible trauma, people make fun of him… Each one of them becomes a `Tree of patience` and suffers alone, without even flowering once throughout their lives… And our communities continue to lead their lives, as though everything is `perfectly normal` in this country…


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