Student - November 21, 2019

Meanwhile in... Turkey

Text:
Gina Ho

After the US announced its withdrawal from Syria, the Turkish army invaded the north of the country to create a ‘safe zone’ that is clear of Kurdish fighters. WUR student Ayaz Özkan believes that the Turkish government has everybody’s best interests in mind, including that of the many Syrian refugees in the border region.

Photo: Delil Souleiman

‘Our government is trying to provide safety’

‘Throughout Turkey, Kurds and Turkish people have lived side by side peacefully for a long time. Unlike the majority of the Turkish population, Kurdish refugees from Syria actually have free access to health care and education in Turkey; this was part of an aid scheme that the government made available to them when the war started in Syria. Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, enshrined equal rights for every people in the constitution and to this day, Turkish residents of different races and religions, such as the Kurds and Alevis, are still enjoying the rights and respect from Atatürk’s time.

I’m from Ankara, the capital in the north of the country. Along the Turkish-Syrian border in the south, a lot of people are living in war-zone conditions. There is fighting going on at the border; however, the government’s aim is to protect civilians living in that area, be they Turkish or Syrian Kurds. Turkish news outlets have reported that armed fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK have killed civilians at the border. You don’t see this in the Western media. Some might say that Turkish news outlets are not so reliable, but it is also important to at least bear in mind that what you see in the news is never the whole truth.

I don’t support the fighting but people are being killed in these zones, so the government does have the responsibility to defend itself and protect its people, as we’ve seen in history. A lot of people came to Turkey for safety and better conditions, and the government is trying to provide exactly that at the moment.’

Ayaz Özkan is the pseudonym of a Wageningen student from Turkey who has asked to remain anonymous. His real identity is known to the reporter.