Log-book, October 1997
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Saturday 23rd August : a year ago, police forces broke open the doors of St Bernard's in Paris. Families without proper documents who had found refuge there, were expelled by brutal force in a shocking way. A church is defiled when foreigners are expelled from it. A sad anniversary. The recalling of the events still fills me with feelings of shame and anger.
In front of doors, by the way closed for the occasion, a few hundred of people had gathered with those disenfranchised families. A march of protestation started among the crowd, people joined. I had the pleasure to offer my arm to a writer and actress Marina Vlady. People shouted slogans. Some protested. Everyone knew that the fight on the part of foreigners goes on and the end is not yet within reach.
I had to go and leave that small gathering to join another one, enormous this time. The one invited by Pope John Paul II for a night vigil on the World Youth Day. The crowd was full of enthusiasm and expressed its joy for believing. A crowd able to keep quiet and to listen. It was for me a moment of relaxation. It is very rare to be among a crowd without a struggle to lead, without a protest to make heard, without a threat from the police forces !
Ten young people were baptised by the Pope. The rites of the baptismal liturgy were beautiful. The other crowd I had just left was still present to my heart and I then realised how one is baptised for humanity. At its service. In a Christ like way.
Coming from different countries of Europe who are committed to democratic freedom, we have been deprived of a fundamental one : the right to go where we wanted. The aim of our journey was to go to Diyarbakir, the historical capital town of Kurdistan, on the occasion of the World Peace Day, and where a whole people was eager to welcome us rejoicing at the thought of it.
Nearly 30 million Kurds live in a space, all in one block, which spreads over Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. Some live in the Eastern part of Turkey (where the Kurds are about 15 million) and this where our coaches had the boldness to enter.
When we left Istanbul, 30,000 Kurds had welcomed us with enthusiasm. Those people were peaceful and demanding peace. Kurds filled with joy, came up all along the way, to assure us of their support, though there were police forces with their batons. Police forces did not stop harassing us during the 26 hours'journey we made by coach and at the end they prevented us from entering Diyarbakir. We met scorn from the police forces and the army. This is daily life for the Kurds.
Coming from Europe, which Turkey wants to join, were we dangerous terrorists, to the extend that they used tanks, machine-guns, water-cannons and helicopters ? Confronted with armed forces, we only had non-violence. To batons and riffles we preferred singing and dancing. If we are not terrorists, still we recognise that we are 3dangerous people2. Dangerous because we went to meet the Kurds to say with them " Hurrah for peace ". Armed repression, systematic recourse to violence are not a way which leads to peace. The solution does not lay with the army. It is political with negotiation leading to peace.
We are also dangerous people because we think that more courage is needed to make peace than fight wars. This is why peace frightens. There are risks to take, ways of thinking to change, ways of doing to ban.
Dangerous we are, because we will not stop our struggle now that we have
left Turkey. We leave the country like unwelcomed foreigners. We will go
back. To celebrate peace with Kurds and Turks. This will be a day for celebrations,
a day of feast and joy. One cannot stop people's determination. Hurrah for
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