Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

Exploitation of children

Detentions, house and office ambushes of the police, discovery of arms caches here and there in Ankara and of course the political rhetoric continuing over the so-called "Ergenekon terror gang" story produced an "obsessed" Turkey once again

Including the continuing Gaza Strip tragedy or the developments in the Cyprus talks, irrespective whether they are happening in our close geography or not, all foreign developments have once again become secondary for the Turkish people. We are so much preoccupied and obsessed for different reasons and perceptions with the Ergenekon thriller.

However, some strange things do happen in the country within the framework and for the sake of a "pro-active foreign policy" that our prime minister and his foreign policy adviser are concocting by bypassing all together the entire Foreign Ministry apparatus of the country. Readers might remember a front page headline on Tuesday in the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, and in some other newspapers. It was about an order from the Ministry of Education to the primary and secondary schools of the country. Accordingly, schools all around the country observed a minute of silence in memory of the Palestinians killed in the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

In a letter to this writer a foreign teacher (name withheld) serving for the past six years at an Istanbul private high school, appeared as puzzled as this writer why the Education Ministry wanted primary and secondary school kids engage in a political activity.

"I feel for the children and the adults in Gaza as well as Israel; I feel for the children and adults in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan. I feel for children and adults anywhere that public policy has failed and violence has succeeded. But I take exception to the Ministry of Education mandating that this honor be used as a protest, as it surely is. I think is disgraceful that a political organization that is supposed to protect children is party to a ploy that uses children and their teachers, both Turkish and Palestinian, to make a political statement," said the teacher in summary in his letter.

It was not appropriate at all
As long as it does not turn violent, right to demonstrate cannot be denied from anyone. But, to exercise the right to demonstrate, one must be an adult. The government may like it or not, a foreign embassy might appreciate it or not, people may condemn a certain development. But, there must be a difference between right to demonstrate and exploitation of children for some political reasons.

Many people will remember the recent demonstrations in many southeastern Turkish cities. At least some people will remember the tragicomic 300 years behind bars demand of a prosecutor for children who were accused of attacking police with stones, hurling Molotov cocktails, burning fires in streets. Those kids were exploited by the local organization of the Democratic Society Party, or the DTP, and its mastermind the separatist terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, gang. The kids were placed in front of other demonstrators as part of a plan to portray a confrontation between the police and the kids. Unfortunately, that plot worked well as similar such plots worked and are working in Palestine, Lebanon, Jerusalem and elsewhere. Is there a difference between kids demonstrating in streets of Lebanese towns with wooden missiles and rifles or small kids being recruited into paramilitary forces, terrorist groups and forcing them with ministry directives to make political statements?

Do something rather

than hiding behind kids

Even though we might share similar concerns and indeed taking to the streets and engaging in identical acts or even undertaking further actions to demonstrate our heartfelt sympathy for the sufferings and gross violation of human rights bordering genocide, if children are placed in front of demonstrators as a shield, or if kids were asked to make a political manifestation at primary and secondary schools, how can we describe such an action other than condemning it as a gross violation of rights of children and exploitation of them for some political reasons? If he wants to demonstrate how outraged he was with the Gaza atrocities, Çelik must perhaps undertake a protest action himself rather than hiding behind kids.