Yeraltı Notları, 26 Temmuz 2004

Sevgül Uludağ

 

The Truman Show! …(*)

Sevgul Uludag

July is a stifling month – it’s the hottest month of the year, dry and seeping your energy. Even a short walk down the road of Ledra Palace leaves you stunned and you need a couple of hours to return to `normal`…

July is not only this – it is also the month of blood and tears. A month where nationalism has its own discourse of using blood to `remember` only what it chooses to remember. A month of tension and pain. Demonstrations, candles, visits to the cemeteries…

July retains its content this year, just as it did last year…

I remember this time last year when groups of activists were organizing bi-communal memorials in the memory of Greekcypriot and Turkishcypriot innocent victims of the 1974 war. The main organizers were the Workers’ Democracy and YBH Youth (Patriotic Unity Movement Youth). Fascists in the north were threatening them and when the activists wanted to go to visit Murataga village to lay wreaths in memory of the victims, there was a big campaign. The so-called `UHH` (Nationalist People’s Movement) had started a `Duty and night watch with flags` - they were carrying sticks and getting ready to attack the activists who would come to the cemetery. The fascists spread the `fake news` that the activists were bringing `soil from EOKA graves to mix with the soil on the graves of the Turkish Cypriot martyrs!` Extremist newspapers were full of threats, slander and `fake news` against the activists.

Of course the memorial could not take place because police stopped the group from entering the Murataga village, claiming that Greekcypriot activists did not apply to `take permission` from them for such an activity. So the group proceeded to the Saints Konstantinos and Heleni cemetery at Aglantzia for a similar ceremony as planned.

This year, the same group under the name `Bi-communal Initiative against Nationalism and War` applied for `permission` for exactly the same activity. In their statement entitled `No more blood for nationalism`, they said:

`Every July in view of the anniversary of 1974 war, the ordinary people in both sides mourn for and honour their dead, their innocent children, their brothers and their parents who undeservedly were killed.

Thousands of innocent Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been uprooted starting from the 1950s and continuing in the 1960s until the "final" division of the island in 1974. Their lives have been shaped by the political aims of the ruling classes on both sides and the designs of the Great Powers who sought to secure control of the island situated in such a strategic location in the Mediterranean close to the Middle East oil resources.

For decades the nationalists in both sides have been amplifying their own peoples suffering in order to encourage feelings of hatred and difference between the two sides. Conflict and armed encounters are sparked, flickering back and forth as tensions mount. Militarism has been made to become a "daily part of life". Cyprus itself has become one of the lands where there is a huge concentration of armies, military bases and guns. Those who say no to militarism and nationalism are persecuted and repressed. Those who write against militarism are tried in military courts in the north. The nationalists have been exploiting the pain and suffering of our people throughout the last four decades in order to serve their own needs. We have to say enough is enough. We have to stop them. No more blood for nationalism and war. Thousands of ordinary people in both sides share this desire. Thousands of ordinary people have crossed over to "the other side", sharing and exchanging, recognising their loss and connecting with one another. The desire for peace and reconciliation is so prevalent among the ordinary people on both sides.

In response to this desire, commemorative ceremonies in the north and south will honour the memories of all the innocent Greek and Turkish Cypriots, who were killed throughout the decades, especially in July 1974 that brought the "final" division of the island. But the grief has no "division" - it is common for all those ordinary people in Cyprus who lost their lives in wars, which they themselves neither decided, nor wished for. We never forget nor do we forgive the murderers, but we know that the way for the vindication of those dead will only come when we make a final end of war, the bigotry and the blood-bath and work towards securing peace and democracy in the island.`

So what happened do you think? Of course the `ministry of interior` in the north did not `give permission` to such an activity claiming that it is open to `provocation`… The newspaper close to the military and Denktash, `Volkan` had threatening articles against the organizers.

During the visit of the American President George Bush and NATO meetings, activists from Greece and Turkey marched together and made political demonstrations in the middle of Istanbul and that was fine, but not in north Cyprus. Such things are not `permitted` because the `Truman Show` must be continued over here…

I’m sure you’ve heard of the movie, `The Truman Show` where the whole life of Truman Burbank is a `fake`. He lives in a giant studio and he does not know. Everything is a fake – people in the street, his job, his friends and the whole world is watching this, without Truman Burbank knowing it…

In the north there is a `circle` drawn by the regime and so long as you don’t get out of this `circle` you may do activities, demonstrations, you may form political parties, have elections and everything. So long as you stay within the `limits` drawn by the `regime` you can do anything and say anything and pretend that this is `democracy` and `freedom`. But once you start pushing those `limits` and trying to organize political activities like the Bi-communal Initiative Against War and Nationalism, you would be banned. Or threatened. Or persecuted. Or tried in military courts. Or lose your job and not be able to find another one. Or get killed like Kutlu Adali, the journalist and writer – remember it was July 1996 when he was shot in front of his house and his body was taken to the hospital in a military jeep, instead of an ambulance, as a reminder?

This is a Truman Show and the giant studio must retain its order. Anyone who wants to go beyond that line must leave immediately or must be stopped! `Nationalism` still needs `blood` and even CTP in `power` in this studio, cannot change this…

You know what the hope is? That every July now in the last two years, there are alternative voices to show the fakeness of the studios we live in and to push the `limits` of the regime for everyone to see…

(*) Article published in the ALITHIA newspaper on the 25th of July, 2004.

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