PEN Peace Conference: “Farewell to Arms”

25 April 2016
PEN International, Kurdish PEN Centre and PEN Turkey Centre held a Peace Conference in Diyarbakır-Turkey on 24-25 April, 2016.PEN Int’l President Jennifer Clement and President Emeritus John Ralston Saul sent video messages of appreciation and solidarity. PEN Int’l was represented by Vice-President Eugene Schoulgin and Peace Committee Int’l Chair Tone Peršak, Kurdish PEN by President Shexmus Sefer, and PEN Turkey by President Zeynep Oral and Vice-President Halil Ibrahim Özcan.

The opening speeches, including the one by Diyarbakır Co-Mayor Fırat Anlı, were followed by the peace letter read by Mrs Türkan Elçi; her husband Tahir Elçi was assassinated last year, when he was President of Diyarbakır Bar.

The guest speakers were Prof. Dr. Abbas Vali, Prof. Dr. Jabbar Kadir, Prof. Dr. Jean Pierre Massias, sociologist Dr Nazan Üstündağ, journalist Yüksel Genç, lawyer Fikret Ilkiz, and Editor-in-Chief of Daily Cumhuriyet Can Dündar.

Here is the joint press release of PEN Int’l, Kurdish PEN and PEN Turkey at the end of the peace conference:

“As writers, journalists and artists, we gathered in Diyarbakır on 24-25 April 2016 in order to defend human rights, freedom of thought and expression, and the principles of PEN –Writers of the World. With the support of PEN Int’l, PEN Turkey Centre and Kurdish PEN Centre have joined to increase the sphere of peace by discussing “PEACE: How and For Who?” with guest speakers and representatives of various NGOs.

At present, even uttering the word “peace” is dangerous, open to accusation, punishment and attacks. In spite and because of this situation, we have united for an invitation to peace. We have decided that our demand for peace to be heard. We have got together in harmony with the dear memories of our losses including Hrant Dink and Tahir Elçi, who were also working for the same aims… . We re-emphasize our individual responsibility to leave our children a better world worth living in and to help them realize their dreams. As specialists and concerned people, we shared various related experiences in the world; we discussed ways of conflict resolutions. We focused on issues of journalism, ethics, society, social psychology, law, war and peace.

In Diyarbakır, which is the heart of the area most destructed by armed conflict, we have decided to declare our insistence and perseverance regarding our demand for a lasting and honorable peace:

* We invite all the sides of the conflict to stop using arms and start a dialogue.
* We demand that each citizen should be respected in terms of a humane life , citizenship rights and identity.
* Those who say “We have decided to fight ” should revise their position and make a public statement in harmony with peace.
* The operations in the cities that have been damaged and destroyed should stop so that normal life can start.
* We invite all the concerned international, national and local institutions and organizations including NOGs to support our peace call. The media that provoke war should stop using the language of war and start using the language of peace.
* We expect all the PEN centers to contribute to the development of a peace culture in harmony with PEN International Charter.
Those who need peace  the most are the people who are caught in the middle of the fights and who suffer from destruction and loss of lives, carrying all the pain. Each person has the right to live in peace. Violence and destruction have never been a solution to any serious problem in the world; on the contrary, such actions have only deepened the problems causing harm to innocent civilians. Before this ancient land is further damaged with its natural treasures, people, villages, towns and cities, we invite everybody, each institution and all the governments to support our invitation and contribute to the formation of a lasting and honorable peace.

PEN International - Kurdish PEN Centre - PEN Turkey Centre