Politicians sanctifying armed customs do not care about the "right to live"

15 May 2008
On Tuesday, May the 13th 2008, on the same day we had the third “Local Media Training Seminar on Personal Disarmament and Violence News in Turkey” a news item broadcasted on television revealed the cultural dimension of personal armament in our country and the reinforcing role of the politicians in this culture of violence once more.
It is extremely futile that the politicians folk-dancing during a wedding in Batman along with the firearms fired in the air made unbelievable statements defending the armed celebrations as part of the conventions rather than preventing fatal accidents by advising that guns should not be used during weddings and celebrations and by defending personal disarmament.
These politicians who are not ashamed to make peace and negotiation part of their speeches with sordid worries under the competitive conditions in the political arena, in another cultural climate which sanctifies violence and guns do not at all hesitate to defend violence and armament claiming that “it is part of the culture” just because it is in line with their interests.
Let us draw attention to politician Erkan Mumcu’s inconsiderate statements reported on Radikal Newspaper, dated May the 14th, because the subject matter was approached with the perspective that the guns fired during the wedding were guns used at war and mostly the specifications of these guns were covered. Yet the uncivilian and inhuman perspective of the incident became secondary not like the way it was protested in previous examples of armed celebration with politicians.
Erkan Mumcu, who described the firing in the air using G3 infantry rifles during the wedding of the son of Kemal Tarhan, Provincial Chairman of the Motherland Party in Batman as a “custom” and tried to defend the case in the following way:
“Those who reported the wedding coverage as ‘picture of shame’ know very well that the real meaning of shame means ‘doing something which will make others ashamed’. This is a wedding and the images there are the images of brotherhood, enthusiasm, happiness and solidarity. You do not feel ashamed by the happiness of others, quite the opposite, you feel happy and excited. What’s really shameful is to make those who are having fun decently without harming anyone at one part of the wedding ‘as it is tradition’ look as if they are second class, present them as extraterrestrial and looking down at them by generalizing them as tribes. Those who really should be ashamed are the ones who present this picture as a Picture of shame and who are ashamed of their own nation. I would like to wish those who are ashamed of this picture of peace and solidarity in one part of Turkey an adventure they would not forget in their forbidden love with the west.”
It is absolutely a duty to analyze how these are arguments of little substance. “Those who reported the wedding coverage as ‘picture of shame’ know very well that the real meaning of shame means ‘doing something which will make others ashamed’” With this statement it is as if Erkan Mumcu is giving away some sort of a confusion in his mind. Because as we can see from the splendid description as he is explaining “the real meaning of shame”, he perceives first of all as person and then as an acting politician in society a celebration during a wedding with firearms not as something to be “ashamed of” but a “tradition.If it Isn’t a shame that people lose their lives or get injured as a result of this tradition”, then what is it?
Mumcu, who abstracts this situation from a situation in which firearms are fires and the the people’s rights to live is endangered and evaluates it completely differently and says: “What’s really shameful is to make those who are having fun decently without harming anyone at one part of the wedding ‘as it is tradition’ look as if they are second class, present them as extraterrestrial and looking down at them by generalizing them as tribes.” He is not aware that this celebration “as it is tradition” threatens “the right to live”, the most basic human right. It is not at all understandable to defend such traditions which threatens people’s right to live  with concepts like “decency”.What would Mr. Erkan Mumcu, who defends the armed celebration culture as a good “tradition” so much, say to those citizens who lost their children, wives, siblings and their loved ones during such celebrations?
In Radikal’s news item, it was reported that Recep Kızılcık, the Mayor of Batman stated that the G3’s fired during the wedding were previously given to Village guards and said “This family most probably got those guns during the years when they were village guards. At times when terrorism was more intensive these guns were handed to village guards with a license. As they are licensed they are not collected back from the forest offices.
The guns given to village forest officers are at the same time a serious civil security problem. One of the suggestions of the Law Work Group in the “Personal Disarmament in Turkey: Suggestions of Solutions” report published by the Umut Foundation in 2005  was the following: “The regulation on the handover and licensing of the unlicensed guns in possession of temporary and voluntary village guards should be ceased to have effect. The guns possessed by the village guards as described in this regulation should be returned.”
In accordance with the instruction given by Mr. Kızılcık, the Mayor of Batman to carry out the necessary transactions on those who fired in the air, Fatih and Erdal Tarhan, the sons of the organizer of the wedding, were taken under custody by Batman Police Department. Following their investigation the accused were brought before the court at Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Batman and they were arrested for ”using an unlicensed firearm at a residential area” We must thank Mr Kızılcık, the Mayor, for not omitting this matter.
The seminar we held at Anadolu University in Eskişehir with the attendance of journalists, students, member of NGO’s and local protocol started by protesting the “war guns” fired at this wedding in Batman attended by Erkan Mumcu, the Leader of the Motherland Party, the “armed celebration” mindser and the acts of those politicians who strengthen this mindset.
Nail Güreli, Honorary Trustee of Umut Foundation and Columnist of Milliyet Newspaper started his speech on the “Report of Rights and Responsibilities of Journalists in Turkey”; by saying “Long-barreled guns were fired at a wedding in Batman. Erkan Mumcu, the leader of the Motherland Party and still an active politician was folk-dancing at this wedding during which guns were fired in the air. I am testing this.”
As Erkan Mumcu was defending armed celebrations as “a tradition”, at the seminar in Eskişehir the dimensions of personal armament and the approach of the media to this topic was being discussed. According to the information given by Ayhan Akcan, Board Member of Umut Foundation, Each year, an average of 9000 people are injured by firearms in Turkey and there are guns in approximately 300,000 cars currently in traffic.
Nazire Dedeman, the president of Umut Foundation gave the following information:
Each year an average of 3000 people lose their lives due to firearms in Turkey. Approximately 700 of these 3000 people are killed due to accidents with firearms.
Throughout the world, according to IANSA’s (International Action Network on Small Arms) statistics, 1000 people per day are killed by firearms. 250 of these are deaths caused by wars; whereas 750 of these lose their lives due to causes such as homicides, suicides and accidents using firearms.
Again according to IANSA’s data 875 million guns are in use in the world. 74’%, i.e. the majority of these guns is in possession of civilians. This number shows that personal armament is more than the armament of states and thus it is a very important problem throughout the world.
Have a nice week,
Umut Foundation