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Sevgi’s engagement night

People are in possession of guns, licensed or not licensed. And that is another factor contributing to violence, claiming the lives of dozens. We, as a society, are becoming armed. Automatic weapons are causing the east to resort to violence, allowing quick and sudden deaths.

As a society we like violence. It is part of our daily lives. We are trying to solve our problems by violence. But we cannot solve them because violence gives birth to new problems. We see repercussions at all levels, in any kind of relationship. Violence is everywhere from one-on-one relationships to families or against women, children and animals; or in sports activities and traffic. Not only individuals but the state also resorts to violence. Torture and ill-treatment cannot be prevented in Turkey.

The Ergenekon detentions taking place before dawn, the release of detainees only after days of interrogations or keeping them inside for years, or intervention in private lives, searches turning private properties and offices into battle fields. If all this is not violence, then what is it?

Two sides of violence

We have seen the utmost example of violence in Mardin’s Bilge Village at a house preparing for the engagement ceremony of a young couple. We saw violence in the cold-blooded murder of 44 people. The incident urges us to ponder about two sides of violence: how could man commit such violent murder? And why is there such a serious culture of violence in society?

Violence in Turkey begins in the family. In a report by the Amnesty International on violence in Turkey, a woman from the southeastern city of Diyarbakır says: "We usually live in fear. We are afraid of our fathers, brothers and husbands because we are exposed to violence. We don’t want to be exchanged, get married with someone who we have never seen.

We don’t want to be presented like a gift box or remain uneducated, or be forced into marriage at very early ages and we don’t want to live in fear all the time."

In addition to that, not having education, urban sprawl, poverty, living in hardship and in shanty houses; and not keeping with modernization are encouraging violence.

Is this about rage and despair?

People are in possession of guns, licensed or not licensed. And that is another factor contributing to violence. We, as a society, are becoming armed. Automatic weapons are causing the east to resort to violence, allowing quick and sudden deaths. You don’t have to face your victims or have contact with them. You can just pull the trigger of a Kalashnikov.

Individual and spiritual reasons why one resorts to violence and aggression are very complex. The Freudian approach sees this as a motive. But others are that one resorts to violence in order to have control over the public or destroy objects including himself. Psychiatrists must have a lot to say about the massacre that took place in Mardin.

But I think rage and despair lies behind this mass murder. Newspapers claim the main reason is jealousy. One of the guests, Abdülkadir Çelebi, said: "We wanted Sevgi Çelebi to get married to one of the members of our family. But her family rejected the proposal and wanted her to be married to someone from another family, with whom we are enemies."

Jealousy is a common reason for violent acts. Anger at being rejected and despair transform into violence.

We see examples everywhere in the world. But the massacre in Mardin has some other thing. Not only were the bride-to-be, Sevgi Çelebi, and her fiancŽ, Habib Arı, punished but also the entire Çelebi Family because Sevgi’s body belongs to her family not herself.

Her family decides with whom she can marry. So the entire family is being punished. Sevgi has nothing in it.

The murderer perhaps thought that Sevgi really loved him and that they couldn’t get married because of Sevgi’s family. Or perhaps Sevgi was really in love with her relative who killed her. None is important. Sevgi’s family decided whom she could marry. Sevgi’s will is not an issue. The massacre in Mardin consists of tragedy rings; tragedies of Sevgi, children who lost their parents and of the victims. In fact this is the tragedy of the entire Turkish society.



Rıza Türmen is a former judge at the European Court of Human Rights, or ECHR, and a columnist for the daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared on Friday. It was translated into English by the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review's staff.
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