Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Turkish nights

On Thursday 30th September we experienced rain! It has been getting increasingly hotter and more humid, so the rain was a welcome change. In Ankara we were treated to a bed and something resembling sleep. We breakfasted on a selection of cheeses, egg, salad, bread - almost everything was made available to us and we eat heartily. There followed the mayhem of the press conference which by now we are all very used to, the warm hugs and then we got back on the road again.

IHH the Turkish human rights organisation which has arranged and paid for our hospitality in this part of the world, has been remarkable. They have beeen well organised and efficient, generous and supportive. Sadly the Turkish people have been warned off joining this convoy whilst the matter of the Mavi Marmara murders is investigated. Some say that if one more Turk is killed by the Israelis the Turks would be forced to take military action. I am not so sure. Turkey has right on its side. The UN has found Israel wanting in this matter and demands a full investigation. We know that any Israeli investigation will be a whitewash, and we know that it will take too long, but I feel that by not sending Turks on this convoy they are missing a trick. The Israelis are not going to kill one thousand Turks. I feel that instead of retreating, Turkey should allow thousands of people to come on the convoy. Thousands of ordinary people are not terrorists. The objective of the convoy is to break the seige of Gaza through direct action, not to pussyfoot around witht the type of diplomacy which has failed us for years too long to remember.

We drive on to Kayseri where a great treat awaits: we are driven in a coach to a hotel high in the mountain ski resort above the neat town where colourful headscarves rule and the trams run on neatly clipped grass.

In the morning it is another graveside visit and prayers. Furkan Dogar is another young man cut down in his prime on the Mavi Marmara. We met his brother, father and uncle. I would have liked to meet his mother, sisters and aunts. The cultural divide pressed strongly upon me this day and I said so in this interview on Press TV:

Onwards we go to Adana where the high humidity drains us to a standstill. The sports hall where we are staying has kindly put on the air conditioning, but sleeping on a tiled floor in the engine room of the Titanic does not make for rest, and although I meet a well educated and well informed woman who speaks good English, and although we speak of the evils of Monsanto and GM foods, I am glad to move on to the journey we have undertaken and the mountains and great agricultural plains of Turkey where rice and cotton and corn stretch to the far horizon.

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