In Turkish Kurdistan

‘In Turkish Kurdistan’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books (Diary), November 16, 2006

It was barely light in Istanbul as I stumbled into a taxi and headed for the airport to board a flight for Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in eastern Turkey, not far from the Iraqi border. The plane was full, thanks to a large party of what looked like chattering students with closely shaved heads, whose nervous excitement seemed to indicate they’d never left home before. One of them took the window seat next to my interpreter. It turned out he wasn’t a student but a newly conscripted soldier, heading east for more training and his first prolonged experience of barrack-room life, perhaps even of conflict. He couldn’t have been more than 18; this was his first time on a plane. As we took off he clutched the seat in front of him and looked fearfully out of the window. During the flight he calmed down and marvelled at the views of the mountains and lakes below, but as the plane began its descent he grabbed the seat again. Our safe landing was greeted with laughter by many of the shaven-headed platoon. read more

,