Yeraltý Notlarý, 13 Mayýs 2004

Sevgül Uludað


The wisdom of children…(*)

Sevgul Uludag

After the referendums in the north and south, chaos settles in… Talat goes to Washington to meet Powell… Tassos says something incomprehensible about Turkish Cypriots. Denktash talks but no one listens to him… Some Turkish Cypriots start bringing out their `hidden agenda` of being `recognized by the world`… The Azeris back up, saying if they give support to the `recognition` of the northern part, they might end up giving an example of supporting `separatist regimes` like `Karabagh`… Businessmen are waiting for the European aid to reach the northern part, hotels are waiting for tourists… Some Turkish Cypriots say `It's time for elections because so long as Denktash remains, psychologically we will not feel OK… It's time to remove him from power…`

The first signs of the mice leaving the ship comes from the Democratic Party, that is Denktash's son Serdar's party… Some MPs resign to form the `Freedom of Thought Movement` and a former minister of finance, Salih Cosar follows them, resigning from the

party… Perhaps they'll form a new party… Akinci is upset because he's not part of the government in the north and pulls back his support to the Talat-Serdar government. Eroglu says they will not contest the fact that this government does not have majority support

in parliament…

In the south there is crisis in DISY we hear and a bomb explodes in front of the house of Anastasiadis. He was the one supporting YES, wasn't he? But Turkish Cypriots are used to `bombings` since both Eroglu and Talat's homes have been bombed in the past, as well as

Durduran's house and car and some others. In Cyprus, we have produced thugs who can't argue their point of view and instead resort to violence and threats to silence others. We might say they are in the minority and console ourselves but in none of the cases

of bombing and killing, no one was caught by the police. All such cases remain even when everyone knows who's done it. Instead of dust settling so we can see clearly who's doing what, more and more confusion comes in…

Europe is here – Turkish Cypriots have become citizens because they have the passports of the Republic of Cyprus… Europe is in this house, in this divided street where I live, in this divided capital Nicosia… People are confused about what they wanted or what they

want – the flower which resembles a clock opens this morning with bright colors of purple and yellow, reminding me of a lost childhood… Birds are singing every morning, my Dalmatian dog Jelly speaks with other dogs in our street in her own language… A UN

helicopter patrols the `Green Line` silencing the birds for some time, like a reminder that we only have cease-fire, nothing else in this country.

How do we build hope and how do we build a culture of peace in this chaotic environment called Cyprus? What do we teach our children? What do we learn from them?

On the 24th of April, 4.5 year old Leon, consoled his Greek Cypriot mother who voted YES in the referendum:

`Don't worry mother… This time they said NO but next time, you will not be alone…They will say YES…`

Leon was puzzled when he was younger about the division of Cyprus… He was playing and thinking about how to reunite the island… One day he told his mother:

`I know mom how to reunite Cyprus! We take very powerful glue and stick the pieces together but then we have to leave it like that to dry… We don't touch it… Then, it will be one…`

I send him chocolate with his mother – I had conjured up a luggage full of clothes for babies just before he was born as a gift and I remember holding him in my arms when he was about 2 months old… I even have photos holding him in my arms in our garden – he was a

beautiful baby…

So I send him chocolate with his mother so he would not forget me – when his mother gives him the chocolate and says `This is from Sevgul', he asks, `Is she Turkish Cypriot or Greek Cypriot?`

What sort of an environment are we offering Leon that we make him ask where the chocolate comes from – from a Turkish Cypriot or a Greek Cypriot? Why can't we have our kids eat their chocolate regardless of having to think about ethnic identities, divisions and `borders`? Leon is watching us, he is learning from us and he is trying to tell us something…

An elementary school kid from Famagusta, from the Shehit Zeki Primary School, Utku Altiok, writes a letter to Talat, calling for peace in Cyprus. We have been publishing letters from elementary school kids in YENIDUZEN newspaper touching our hearts and souls…

Utku Altiok is not in chaos when writing his letter to Talat – he knows clearly what he wants… He is only 8 years old but is ready to sacrifice something precious for him, his environment he grew up in so that there can be peace on this island. His mother is a

`settler`, his father a Turkish Cypriot. His mother is involved in peace activities and you can see her in peace rallies because she wants to raise children in a peaceful environment…

In a chaotic Cyprus, perhaps we can learn from the wisdom of a small kid, who is ready to give up his room, his house, his neighbourhood so that Greek Cypriots can return and there will be peace on the island… Perhaps children can bring their wisdom and purity of their

hearts and teach us how to behave in order to be able to reach peace on this island…

The 8 year old Turkish Cypriot kid, Utku Altiok writes:

`We became as one, the kids in our neighbourhood, in our school, my mother, my father, my auntie, my grandmother, our neighbours Uncle Cemal, Uncle Ozgur, Uncle Alper, Auntie Guzay… For the first time we are united as one. Everyone is signing, lighting candes and building fires. As kids we run with flags in our hands. I asked my father, why are there so many stars in this flag? What are they doing on the flag, they are so many… My father told me that these stars were for peace, so that people would not die, so that there will be no wars… This means that both myself and my friends will love this flag (of


I heard that there will be peace and the owners of our house will come back to their home. I learnt that we will move into another house. I love my house, my room, I love my neighbourhood… I also love my friends… But since we will move so that there will be peace, I can always call them and look them up and we can meet again… Some

others, with sticks in their hands don't want peace and they are shouting. Why don't they want peace? Dear prime minister, please tell them to light candles like us and sing…

Let's build a big fire together, let's sing together…I will be next to my father and mother for peace, against bad people who don't want peace…

Dear prime minister, I am under age so I can't vote YES that day, please vote YES for me on that day… Or show my age as bigger so I can also vote…`

Our children are telling us things if we want to listen… They are the invisible voice we don't hear – the invisible hearts whose suffering we don't see…

Are we ready to listen to Utku and Leon?

(*) Article published in ALITHIA newspaper on the 9th of May, 2004.

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