Français | English | Castellano

Cey­lan Önkol’s wide open eyes con­tain the full sym­bol­ism of war chil­dren, of those gen­er­a­tions that were cut down at the age when they should have been ful­ly engaged in the process of growing.

In this spe­cif­ic case, there is an expla­na­tion to the sym­bol. Zehra Doğan revealed it when she explained that the only pho­to the press could pub­lish after Cey­lan was mor­tal­ly wound­ed by mor­tar fire  while she tend­ed her sheep, was  sim­ply that of a child with unnat­u­ral­ly widened eyes, cap­tured in a Photomat…

Cey­lan Önkol was killed on Sep­tem­ber 28 2009 in the ham­let of Ham­baz, a part of the vil­lage of Sen­lik in Diyarbakir’s Lice dis­trict. Her death caused quite a rip­ple even caus­ing emo­tion­al out­bursts in West­ern Turkey, although, four years lat­er, the West is now quite deaf to the woes of the Kur­dish peo­ple. Cey­lan Önkol died with­in the tri­an­gle formed by the Taban­te­pe mil­i­tary unit, toward the Bingöl side of the Bingöl-Diyarbakır bor­der, and the gen­darmerie out­posts of Abalı and Yay­la. The “inquiries” were lost in the mean­der­ings of  a failed inquest and even the CDEH   failed to pro­ceed any further.

There­in lies a sec­ond sym­bol, that of an unpun­ished crime com­mit­ted against a child by State-ordered armed forces.

There have been so many oth­ers, even if one looks only at the Turk­ish ter­ri­to­ry. Some were greet­ed with emo­tion, such as tiny Alan Kur­dî in 2015 (rechris­tened Aylan Kur­di by the press) whose dead body on the shore was seen all over the world. The EU then signed agree­ments with the Turk­ish regime and thus financed an “ally” against migrants. The “smug­glers” were con­demned, with words.

Nihat Kazan­han, was killed at age 12, Berkin Elvan was killed in 2014 dur­ing the Gezi revolt, while going out to get bread for her fam­i­ly, there were also Muham­met and Furkan, crushed by a tank while they slept, and so many others…

We are told there are 23 mil­lion chil­dren in Turkey. The num­ber of killed is falling accord­ing to an offi­cial infor­ma­tion web­site of the Turk­ish regime that terse­ly reports: “In 2016, the num­ber of chil­dren between ages 1 and 17 who died in Turkey was 2 270. In 2017, the num­ber has fall­en to 1 846 deaths…The mar­riage rate for young girls has gone from 5,8% in 2014 to 3,8% in 2018…The per­cent­age of chil­dren (minors between 15 and 17) work­ing to meet their fam­i­ly’s needs was 20,3%; in 2018 it increased to 21,1%…” All’s well, then, and the mas­sacres com­mit­ted against the Kurds in 2015 and 2016 care­ful­lyy avoid­ed the children…The arti­cle pro­vides no fig­ures on the num­ber of chil­dren born in jail, and resid­ing there. Yet in 2017, there were already 2 800, and close to 200 detained under the head­ing of “ter­ror­ism”. End of 2019,  there is talk of almost 4 000, 700 of which are in “polit­i­cal” categories.

Turkey: the lit­tle polit­i­cal pris­on­ers (Video in French)

Dur­ing her incar­cer­a­tion, Zehra Doğan lived with these chil­dren as co-detainees and doc­u­ment­ed the sit­u­a­tion; some of them have final­ly been freed.

The Asso­ci­a­tion for Human Rights in Turkey (IHD) has pub­lished a report on the vio­la­tions of chil­dren’s rights in Turkey. “Since 2002, under the reign of the AKP (Jus­tice and Devel­op­ment Par­ty), 440 000 girls and ado­les­cents of less than 18 years gave birth to a child”. The report makes no men­tion of the boys…

Would Turkey then be the coun­try where vio­la­tions of chil­dren’s rights are most blatant?

Cer­tain­ly not, no mat­ter what those accus­ing the “Mus­lim” nature of the coun­try may say, con­sid­er­ing as they do that  this reli­gion “dis­re­gards every­thing.” Where sex­u­al vio­la­tions are con­cerned, patri­archy is the cause and the fig­ures con­cern­ing assaults against migrant chil­dren in the Unit­ed States make your head spin. Each year, more than 3 mil­lion indi­vid­u­als are direct­ed toward author­i­ties respon­si­ble for the pro­tec­tion of chil­dren. The mor­tal­i­ty rate is approx­i­mate­ly two deaths per 100 000 chil­dren. Not to men­tion the killings of young peo­ple caused by the flour­ish­ing weapons mar­ket. The USA is not a “Mus­lim” territory…But our pur­pose is not to con­duct an “infan­ti­cide comparison”.

Let’s get back to the chil­dren of war and Zehra Doğan’s words when she signs a mur­al about Cey­lan on the walls in London.

What Zehra is express­ing is both a denun­ci­a­tion of the fate of Kur­dish chil­dren fall­en under  unpun­ished crimes, killed by  gun­fire or crushed under tanks, and the larg­er ques­tion of chil­dren in war. It is a draw­ing for peace, and the sheep in the draw­ing is in no way  a sym­bol of absence of resistance…

And if this draw­ing could also speak about child sol­diers, chil­dren drowned in the Mediter­ranean, the chil­dren in Yemen dying under the Euro­pean weapons sold to their tor­tur­ers and the chil­dren of Pales­tine, it would do so.

Cey­lan Önkol’s wide open eyes stay that way to tell us to open our own. More than ever is it the time to stay alert, while polit­i­cal lead­ers stay mum about Erdoğan’s projects in North­ern Syria!

You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.
KEDISTAN on EmailKEDISTAN on FacebookKEDISTAN on TwitterKEDISTAN on Youtube
Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.