Photo of the Week by Elaine Fallesen: Flying a kite in a Kurdish village on the slopes of Mount Ararat in 2014.
Our Mission: Ararat 2015 team was in the homes of Kurdish people in eastern Turkey in June when members of the Kurdish-centered party made history by being elected to parliament for the first time. That victory was short-lived for the Kurds.
In July, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, smarting from having his Islamist Justice and Development Party lose its parliamentary majority, re-started the long war against militant Kurds. He is, as The New York Times observed recently, attempting “to stoke nationalist sentiments” for a new election that Erdogan has set for November.
In places we visited in southeastern and eastern Turkey, Kurdish people were seen in recent weeks being searched on streets by security forces and, in some cases, arrested. “Cafes in this city that usually stay open until midnight now close at dusk,” The Times reported from Diyarbakir. “Jails are filling, once again, with Kurdish activists and officials accused of supporting terrorism.
“In the mountains, Kurdish guerrillas hastily set up vehicle checkpoints and then dissolve into the rugged terrain in a game of cat and mouse with Turkish soldiers. In the countryside, burned and mangled vehicles blight a landscape blackened by forest fires set by the Turkish Army – a tactic that destroys militant hide-outs but also apple and cherry orchards and stocks of feed for villagers’ cows and goats.”
Kurdish forces have been the acknowledged heroes of the war against the Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq. The U.S. supports those forces. Turkey was drawn, reluctantly, into the war against ISIS. But then to confound matters it struck not only ISIS forces, but also the Kurds. And has continued its barrage on Kurdish bases only.
Civil war, which was waged for decades between Turks and Kurds and is estimated to have claimed more than 40,000 lives, ceased from 2013 until July.
Pray that this war would end and please lift the many Kurdish people we have ministered to in eastern Turkey since 2013 when we returned to Mount Ararat. C4C has carried out expeditions there in 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
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