İrfan Aktan • This is not a war

guerre war

Not to speak of the war, not to write about the war. Such is the censorship set up in Turkey.

This censorship, however, is accompanied by an uninterrupted stream of publications in the media of regime propaganda, going as far as applauding war crimes while speaking of the “Operation Sources of Peace” in Northern Syria. An article by Irfan Aktan.


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This is not a war

This is not a war.

Calling what is going on a “war” is prohibited. A pertinent decision.

What is ongoing is not a war. Everybody knows that.

But it is forbidden to say what it is, this thing that is not a war.

It is forbidden to write about it, or to talk about it.

If you write about the war, it is forbidden to write “war”, you must write “peace”.

The planes we see are not war planes. The bombs on which are inscribed names of “journalists” are not bombs.1

Those who call themselves “war correspondents” are not war correspondents, but “operation correspondents”.

For a long time, we said “journalism is not a crime”. No, journalism is a crime.

On the faces of those who claim to practice journalism at a time when journalism is forbidden, the makeup is kaki-colored.

But the time is their time.

The time belongs to those who sign the bombs, to those who call persons refusing the war and calling for peace “forgers”, the time of those who lean up against their State, their tanks, their weapons and give you the finger, spewing threats around them, and who use ruins as backdrops for their makeup.

In only two days, once again we have seen among whom we live. The journalist who cozies up to the strongest is a soldier, the lawyer, the politician, the ecologist, the soccer player, the comedian, the musician, the singer even the pseudo opponent is a soldier.

Nowadays, such is the law: either you are a soldier or you are looking for trouble. Those who don’t fear trouble are in a sorry state, those who fear it are in a state even worse.

But there does exist a road for everyone: talking may be forbidden, but keeping quiet isn’t forbidden yet.

This is why as shame re-emerges, in this period where those unable to speak turn their faces the other way to talk of other things “of daily life”.

If it is forbidden to speak about the big truth, each word on another topic becomes a hostage to those hiding the truth.

May this be inscribed in Hisotry: it is a crime for the prisoner to say he is a prisoner and even a crime that he not say loud and clear, that he not holler “I am free and I am grateful” .

A quote from Nietzche whom I read in my university years has stayed engraved in my memory: “All unspoken truths are poisonous.”

We are poisoned.

We are poisoned by the fact of not being able to say what we see.

This year, the Nobel Prize for literature was given to Peter Handke, who supported the war criminal Milosevic. Apparently he himself was surprised. No comment.

Back in 2016 the prize was awarded to the world poet Bob Dylan. And as Dylan said in his song “It’s alright, Ma, I’m only bleeding”, “And if my thought-deams could be seen/they’d probably put my head in a guillotine”.

And may this also be inscribed for History: saying we are under the guillotine is also a crime.

Ha, and may that serve you as a lesson.

In other news last week, Kara Plak published all the words from Bob Dylan’s songs in Turkish.

So let’s leave the final words to the master with a few verses from Ballad of Donald White:

And there’s danger on the ocean
Where the salt sea waves split high
And there’s danger on the battlefield
Where the shells of bullets fly
And there’s danger in this open world
Where men strive to be free
And for me the greatest danger
Was in society

So I asked them to send me back
To the institution home
But they said they were too crowded
For me they had not room

I got down on my knees and begged
‘Oh, please put me away’
But they would not listen to my pleas
Or nothing I would say

İrfan Aktan

İrfan Aktan began in journalism in 2000 on Bianet. He has worked as a journalist, a correspondent or an editor for l’Express, BirGün, Nokta, Yeni Aktüel, Newsweek Türkiye, Birikim, Radikal, birdirbir.org, zete.com. He was the Ankara representative for IMC-TV. He is the author of two books: “Nazê/Bir Göçüş Öyküsü” (Nazê/A tale of exodus ), “Zehir ve Panzehir: Kürt Sorunu” (Poison and antidote: The Kurdish Question). He presently writes for l’Express, Al Monitor, and Duvar.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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*A word to English-speaking readers: in all instances where the original text is in Turkish or Kurdish, the English version is derived from French translations. Inevitably, some shift in meaning occurs with each translation. Hopefully, the intent of the original is preserved in all cases. While an ideal situation would call for a direct translation from the original, access to information remains our main objective in this exercise and, we hope, makes more sense than would a translation provided by AI…
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