Peace is a beautiful thing.
The end of violence, the end of hate and fear, the tranquillity of good nights sleep, free from the explosions and gun shots and fear of death or kidnapping.
The conflict between the Turkish military and the Kurdish workers party (PKK), a conflict that has spanned 30 plus years claiming the lives of more than 45’000 Turks and Kurds seems to be coming to end. At least this is our hope, and that of our friends here in Iraqi Kurdistan.
A “ceasefire” has been called. As of the 8th of May, PKK troops are moving back in to Iraqi Kurdistan. No one has declared victory but instead both sides seem wiling to search the middle ground for political and non-violent solutions to the Kurdish Question of Turkey. Both sides are still weary of the other, this is not the first "ceasefire", all others have failed and descended into worse violence than before. What makes this different is the involvement of the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, a man who has been imprisoned since 1999 by the Turkish authorities, but has remained at the ideological forefront of the issue of Kurdish rights; and this brings hope.
But does this mean peace?
It has been made very clear that Abdulla Ocalan, who initiated the “ceasefire” calling to let “the weapons fall silent and allowing ideas and policies to speak out”, does not mean for there to be a disarmament. The PKK who are now heading back to their headquarters in Iraqi Kurdish mountains, are still heavily armed. There will be no returning of prodigal sons, there will be no beating swords in to ploughshares. Not yet at least. Often when we talk of peace, when we talk of specific conflicts, we don’t often talk of the effect on the wider region that peace could have. The Pkk has had turbulent relationships with both Iran and Syria, not to mention the internal Arabic Kurdish tensions.
Iran once supported the PKK until the fight for greater Kurdistan started to focus on the Kurdish region of Iran. Syria regime has also supported the PKK, and their relationship in the middle of the Syria civil war is very complex. With Kurdish areas under full Kurdish control, PKK affiliated organization have secured a level of safety stuck between the Free Syrian Army and the Regime.
This peace will lead to an estimated 5000 strong, battle hardened armed force waiting in their military head quarters on the Iran/Iraqi Kurdish border. 5000 soldiers who have no love for the Iranian regime especially its treatment of Kurds. We fear the possibility of future wars, of power games and heightened regional conflict.
But there is also hope. 5000 men and women, passionate for the human rights of the Kurdish people, passionate about the family of humanity and equality of all, seeing their conflict being resolved not by guns, but by words and honest actions could lead to incredible change in the communities they return too.
This is our hope; That those who fought the injustices committed against the Kurdish people will now, in a time of peace, look within their own communities and start to build upon their freedom. To fight the corruption of their own leaders, to fight for the rights of all Kurdish women, to fight for the right of freedom of expression, and to begin working towards reconciliation in the middle east.