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December 28, 2012, Friday

Peace symbol

Diyarbakır deputy Şerafettin Elçi, who had long sought a peaceful solution to the long-standing Kurdish question, passed away at the age of 74 on Tuesday. Mourning his death, columnists strongly praised his approach to the Kurdish issue.

Cengiz Çandar, a columnist for Radikal, focuses on a photo almost all newspapers had on their front page on Thursday. “No photo can be more meaningful than this. It shows the prime minister, the parliament speaker, opposition party leaders and numerous ministers standing in front of Elçi’s Turkish flag-draped coffin during his funeral ceremony. And Radikal’s headline for the story was ‘The last generation,’ making reference to Elçi’s remark of ‘We are the last generation that can solve the Kurdish question.’ That photo was either one that said goodbye to the hopes of solution, saying: ‘We could not succeed when you were alive. Farewell!’ or it said: ‘We respect your lifelong struggle for Kurds and we believe we can solve this issue by following your footsteps. May God bless your soul.’ Regardless of what the message of the photo was, it was surely a hopeful coming together of the country’s political leaders,” Çandar writes.

Ahmet Taşgetiren from the Bugün daily argues that Elçi and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should have come together when Elçi was alive to discuss how they could have come up with a solution to the Kurdish issue. Elçi was a man of reason and an experienced politician. More importantly, he was always stressing that Kurds and Turks should not be alienated from one another.

With a different approach, Sabah’s Nazlı Ilıcak says many agree on the idea that Elçi was a symbol of peace. Then how come the Turkish Republic tried and convicted this symbol of peace? When he openly said, “There are Kurds in Turkey and I am one of them,” while he was a minister in 1979, he became a target of harsh criticism. Then he was sentenced to two years, four months in prison in 1983 for misconduct. And finally, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison when the Democratic Mass Party (DKP), whose former leader was Elçi, was closed down in 1999. Ilıcak says all of this suggests that there is either a huge fault in our laws, or Elçi was no symbol of peace, despite the common belief. Once this dilemma is solved, she notes, Turkey will be able to end the Kurdish question.

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