During the 80s and up until the mid 90s, the Turkish Armed Forces were fighting insurgents and terrorists in the Eastern and Southeastern parts of Turkey. The terrorist camps were set up, across from the borders of Turkey in countries such as Syria, Iran, and especially Iraq, which terrorists would cross and strike military as well as civilian targets on a regular basis. Between the mid 80s and the mid 90s more than 30,000 perished in this silent war, which escaped the radar of not only the international community, but the Turkish one as well. Although the situation turned dormant in the mid 90s, it has unfortunately reared its ugly head again, since the invasion of Iraq by the U.S.
The three stories at the other pages have been selected from the book “Tales from the Southeast” by Hakan Evrensel, who fought this war first-hand as a soldier, and later collected the stories and conducted the interviews as a journalist. Each story in this book covers a different point of view, narrated by an anonymous party, who – whether civilian, soldier, or terrorist – took part in, or was deeply affected by this conflict. These particular three stories were chosen for a reason. They reflect the sometimes all-so-subtle differences between sanity and delirium, stupidity and heroism, horror and satire, hatred and affection.
Hakan Evrensel was born in 1967 in Ankara, Turkey. When – as a kid – he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would always come up with the same reply: “I want to become a soldier”… and so he did. He liked to push the envelope and face challenges, and as a result ended up smack in the middle of combat in Southeast Turkey. Soon though, he started to question “where and why things got out of hand”… and as he realized that he would not be able to get to the bottom of it while remaining in the forces, he quit his lifelong dream – the military – and started out on a quest of looking for answers. He became a journalist, and his troubling journey gave birth to his first book ‘Tales from the Southeast’, soon thereafter to be complemented by his second book “Ground Minus Two” – a fictional novel, based on true characters selected from among those he met during his tour of duty in the conflict zone. Written in a simple but striking style, it is reminiscent of a film scenario. In fact, a movie based on the books of Hakan Evrensel is now in the making, and is expected to be released in 2007.
Below are excerpts from the foreword of “Tales from the Southeast” and from the backcover of “Ground Minus Two”, and one of his stories from “Tales from the Southeast”.