Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Turkish Parliament is woting on headscarf ban in universities today. Though the main claim they are putting forward is the "freedom of education" for the headscarved females, defended closing their heads as their "freedom of belief"; we clearly aware of the agenda behind.

Turkiye is in another hard period, from economy to international politics and they are obsessed with our hair, heads (or is it what is in our minds)....

There is too much to think on, to remember, to analyze, to get in action etc that one get lost in the daily agenda. I frequently find myself remembering historical events, periods, characters and cant keep from comparing with the days we live in.

Lately I posted two calls to stop executions in two different countries immidiatelly, which are both about women (thanks to international public the execution in Afghanistan stopped today). Now, I want to turn into the labirenths of history a little and tell you the stories of two women from a century ago.

Let's close our eyes and imagine we are back in time... let's see how some events seem so similar to our day...

It was a time anti-Ottoman uprisings occurre in several fronts. Revolts backed by European colonials for the fall of Ottoman, as in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1875 triggered the Bulgarian uprising of 1876. The regular army was not paid for months and financially defunct Ottoman administration had to rely on irregulars (Başı bozuklar) to suppress the revolts. Irregulars suppressed the uprisings brutally, massacring thousands. In Europe, as if their countries didn't have any role in revolts, many dignitaries, including Charles Darwin, Oscar Wilde, Victor Hugo and Giuseppe Garibaldi publicly condemn the Ottoman abuses in Bulgaria. In the United Kingdom, the opposition leader, William Gladstone, wrote a booklet denouncing what he called "the Bulgarian Horrors," and calling upon Britain to withdraw its support for Ottoman.

Strongest reaction came from Russia. It was accompanied by sharp public discussions about Russian goals in this conflict: Slavophiles, led by Dostoevsky, saw in the impending war the chance to unite all Orthodox nations and fulfilling what they believed was the historic mission of Russia, while their opponents, westerners, led by Turgenev, denied the importance of religion and believed that Russian goals should not be defense of Orthodoxy but liberation of Bulgaria.

On December 11, 1876 a conference of the Great Powers opened in Istanbul to resolve the chrisis (which the Turks were not invited). Negotiations was granting autonomy to Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina under the joint control of European powers but Turks, found a way to discredit the conference by announcing on December 23, the day the conference was closed, that a constitution was adopted that declared equal rights for religious minorities within the empire.

On March 31, 1877 Russia persuaded the powers to sign the London Convention, demanding Ottoman to introduce the reforms which she already proposed herself. The powers were going to watch the operation of the reforms, and if they decide conditions remained unsatisfactory they reserved the right "to declare that such a state of things would be incompatible with their interests and those of Europe in general" (do't this remind you the EU countries support to terrorists and demands in the name of democracy from Turkiye of our day..). But Turks rejected the proposal on the grounds that it violated the Treaty of Paris.

At the end, on April 24, 1877, after nearly two years of futile negotiations, Russia declared war upon Ottoman Empire. Some legendery local wars fallowed one another. Many of the commanders under Russian Commander Nikolayevich were of Armenian descent (as generals Beybut Shelkovnikov, Mikhail Loris-Melikov, Ivan Lazarev and Arshak Ter-Ghukasov). Forces under Armenian Lieutenant-general Ter-Ghukasov, stationed near Yerevan, began their first assault into Ottoman territory by capturing the town of Bayazid on April 27. Victory in Bayazid, led Russian forces advanced further, taking the region of Ardahan on May 17; besieged the region of Kars in the final week of May.

It was hard times for the empire at all fronts in short...

There was a young Turkish woman, who born at 1857 in the city of Erzurum and grow up sending male family members to wars, waiting their returns singing laments behind them. Nobody, including herself knew she will become a legend in Turkish history yet.

Nene Hatun was a twenty year old woman with a three month old baby at the start of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 (which is known as the "The war of 93" / "93 Harbi" in Turkish). She was living in the Aziziye neighborhood of Erzurum, which was close to an important fortification defending the city.

In November 1877 Aziziye Fort was attacked and captured by the Russians (after a sneak attack led by a gang of Armenians) . That treacherous night between 7 and 8 November, a crowded gang moving from two Armenian villages in the vicinity, managed entering famous Aziziye bastion of Erzurum. A few Turkish soldiers defending the bastion were in deep sleep. After they put to sword, fallowing Russian forces placed themselves in Aziziye bastion without any resistance.

A wounded soldier reached Erzurum running, and gave the bad news. According to withnesses of the time, the minarets shouted "Russians entered Aziziye" instead of morning call-to-prayer: "Whole Erzurum heard the news at the same moment. And at the same time, all Erzurum flied into a passion. People having rifles took them, others took what they could find, like scythes, pickaxes, shovels, and sticks, and ran to the streets. All of Erzurum people, both women and men began to run toward Aziziye."

Nene Hatun was a newly married bride living in a humble house. Her brother Hasan was taken home being severely injured the day before, and passed away in the arms of this new bride a few hours ago. Her husband was on the front. Putting her baby to sleep, taking the meat cleaver, she joined the crowd of civilian volunteers who were mostly women running toward Aziziye madly.

Some sources writes; "A bloody and violent fight started in Aziziye. People who did not have any axes, scythes, or sticks, used their claws to throttle Russians. That army with artilleries and rifles, was totally defeated against such rush... The new bride was hitting her meat cleaver on the face and head of any Russian before her. She would never be able to end the pain of her martyred brother even if she killed a thousand Russians..."

"The new bride was among the wounded. She fell down in blood due to an injury she got during her fight with the meat cleaver in her hand. She was unconscious when they found her wounded, even then she did not let that bloody meat cleaver be taken... The name of this young bride was Nene. She got among the people known and respected by all Erzurumers after that day. "

Nene Hatun lived in Aziziye her entire ninty eight years life, and died there at the age of 98. She was named as "Mother of the Mothers" in 1955. Until her death, she was also known as the "Mother of the Third Army" because of her close ties with the military personnel in her region. In 1955, after being elected as the "mother of the year", she died on 22 May because of tuberculosis.

Her fight for the freedom of motherland which began that night went on actively till the end of Natiuonal Independence War. As an iconic Turkish heroine who established her reputation for bravery late in the Ottoman Age, Nene Hatun lived well into the 20th Century, and saw the new Turkish Republic successfully rise from the ashes of Ottoman. Nene Hatun (Kırkköz) earned pension from Serving to Motherland Order at 1953 of this day.

"She told about how Russians were killed in Aziziye to all Erzurumers during her life of ninety eight years. However, she told about herself with only a few words. She told to the NATO Chief Commander who visited her one year before her death that "I did what was necessary then. I would do the same if necessary now too", and stroke him with admiration.."

Certainly Nene Hatun was not the only Turkish woman who wrote their own legends. There were; Kara Fatma, Hatice Hatun, Halide Edib, Corporal Aliye, Tayyar Seher Hanım, Corporal Adile, Black Ayşe and many more we are not able to count.

But, Corporal Nezahet was a unique example between them.

She was only 9 years old when her father Colonal Hafız Halit Bey decided to unite the national resistance forces in Anatolia, with the 70th Battallion under his command. Istanbul was under invasion, her mother was already died and she had to accompany her father from front to front. Learned to fight and became a symbol between the soldiers.

She took part in many main clashes of the Independence war but named between the female heroes very late because of her early age. At the worst minutes of the clashes with Greeks at Gediz, while some of the soldiers even think to run away, Colonal Hafiz Halit Bey saw his little daughter standing on the way of the soldiers on a horse yelling; "I am going to die with my father, where are you going to!.."

This was more than the behavior of a child to help her father but a reminder to all the soldiers, which effected the end of the war at the west front. She recieved her rank "corporal" after this event. They sew her a soldier clothing to the little girl. She had interesting encounters with historical leaders as Inonu, Cerkez Ethem and even with Mustafa Kemal. It is said that, when Ataturk saw her and asked who she is, she replied as; "I am the castle, when the soldiers want to return the safety of their castle they have to find me."

After long discussions at January 30th 1921, Turkish National Assemby decided to honor this 13 year old with Independence Medal. Some deputies disagree giving such a medal to a child but several others told the events they withnessed and how she named by soldriers as "Turkish Jean D'Arch". Bolu Deputy Tunalı Hilmi Bey defended that even the medal was not enough but she should be ranked as "general" too. But though the desicion passed she could never recieve her medal.

The Independence War (1919-1922) marked a turning point for the Turkish women; "Large numbers of women left their homes and made their appearance in public, both as active participants in the war--as nurses, carriers of ammunition, and less commonly, as soldiers--and as replacement workers in the positions vacated by men who had been drafted. The war significantly influenced both the terms in which women's rights were negotiated during the first decade of the republic and the internalization of these terms by many women. When proposing legal reforms concerning women, Ataturk countered the resistance put forth by the conservative constituency in the Parliament by citing the heroic role women had played in the war. For those women, too, who were active public figures during the period, women's contribution to the war became the primary grounds on which they claimed equal worth as citizens. Nezihe Muhiddin, the president of the Women's Association , wrote in her 1931 autobiography.

Turkish woman who proved her self, identity could not be separated from the men in anyway, achieved her share of the work in the battle and the victory. The educated and peasant worked in the same field; one delivered lectures with her mastery of the language, while the other carried ammunition to the front, organized military attacs with their gangs.

Kara Fatmas and their gangs were carrying out operations for independence against the British, Armenian, French, Italian and Greek soldiers (well-known for killing and raping young girls), while another woman, spy author, acheologist, whatever of colonialists was working hard to divide the lands of Ottoman and creating new countries on maps; Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1917.

Bell earned the nickname, "the Uncrowned Queen of Iraq." Working with the new king was, however, not easy: "You may rely upon one thing — I'll never engage in creating kings again; it's too great a strain.". On July 12, 1926, Bell was discovered dead, committed suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills.

An excerpt from Bell's letters also shows us the similarities of the super powers' conspiracies on these lands in time line, it writes: "March 14, 1920: It's a problem here how to get into touch with the Shiahs, not the tribal people in the country; we're on intimate terms with all of them, but the grimly devout citizens of the holy towns and more especially the leaders of religious opinion, the Mujtahids, who can loose and bind with a word by authority which rests on an intimate acquaintance with accumulated knowledge entirely irrelevant to human affairs and worthless in any branch of human activity. There they sit in an atmosphere which reeks of antiquity and is so thick with the dust of ages that you can't see through it -- nor can they. And for the most part they are very hostile to us, a feeling we can't alter…There's a group of these worthies in Kadhimain, the holy city, 8 miles from Baghdad, bitterly pan-Islamic, anti-British…Chief among them are a family called Sadr, possibly more distinguished for religious learning than any other family in the whole Shiah world….I went yesterday [to visit them] accompanied by an advanced Shiah of Baghdad whom I knew well."

Well, let's open our eyes and look around...

Though not possible to compare with Bell, Condi Rice is succesfully performing the plans of the Super Power. The condition of the countries and their people created by Gertrude Bell and friends (drawing the borders on maps) are crystal clear. Shiahs, tribes, Mujahids and even the family called Sadr are still there and worse.

Why they are interesting us, we are not Ottoman Empire any more? We share history and borders, and important than all; we regard women, human rights above all. Middle East and near Asia is a blood dam enlarging day by day. We cant say "lake" but a "dam" because lakes are natural geographic structures while dams are artificial constructions made by human hand.

Unfortunately, that bloody hands and others infected by thoose bloody hands are now trying to reach us. Or should I say "our heads" because they were always between us invisibaly. Most probably, the treacherous deputies of AKP will pass the law about "headscarf ban" from the Parliament in a few hours. We will see the results alltogether.

What a pity for my country but there is still hope. There is still hope because we inherited endless hopes from Nene Hatuns, Corporate Nezahets and nameless thousands buried in these lands (non of them with any medals).

I recieved a comment to my post about Kubilay's massacre, from a reader of my blog asking me; "My brother, how will the Republic help you after you die?" I think this is just the appropriate time/ place to reply;

First of all, thank you asking this question brother. Before any reply, I should make it clear that I am not a "brother" but a "sister". I am very proud of being a female. I am aware of all kind of strenght, power and determination creator and nature gave to women (please dont confuse, I have nothing to do with feminism).

And you ask; "How will the Republic help me after I die?" I will not need any kind of help from any kind of being or concept of meterial world after I die. But as long as I live, I will serve "republic" and "secularism". Republic will see my/ our death but I/ we will not see the death of SECULAR REPUBLIC.

Remember the characteristic of women as "life giver and life takers". Outer and inner forces backed by super powers tested the women of this country all along the history. Not only during the wars but also in times of military juntas, lack of democracy women proved their strengsth and determination several times, under bullets and bombs or surviving tortures and jails.

Headscarved or not the women of these lands has enough intelligence to hug their democracy despite the efforts of radical Islamist pupets and imperialist super powers who pull their strings as they wish, which has nothing to do with real Islam and Kuran.

Karl Marx said; "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce". Let's watch but don't die laughing.

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