DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — Turkey has been debating the trench and barricade warfare the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has launched in towns in southeast Turkey. Many couldn’t understand why the organization chose that method of warfare. But there are widespread allegations in the southeast that the organization’s leadership was deceived by reports sent by the PKK rank and file that the people were ready to join a popular uprising.
Vahit Cetiner is a shoeshine man on Izzetpasa Avenue in Diyarbakir’s restive Sur district. He has been living in the Hasirli neighborhood, which is now a heavy combat zone, for 65 years and shining shoes on the same sidewalk for 50 years. Because of Sur clashes, he lost both his house and his livelihood. He is now back at his job as the situation has calmed down a bit, but he is still not allowed to go home. He doesn’t really understand what is going on, but that doesn’t stop him from commenting on it: “The PKK believed that the people would be on their side. People were supposed to rise along with them. They filled the neighborhood with guns and bombs, but when the bombs started to explode, everyone escaped. There was nobody left standing with them.” Who knows if this is Cetiner’s personal opinion or the serious truth. But similar views have been circulating in the southeast for months.