When I walked into Cizre State Hospital, I came across a scene that I will not be able to forget for the rest of my life. There were five wounded soldiers and a martyr in the hospital on February 9. Tens of unshaven police officers and soldiers who had just come out of a clash, wearing assault vests full of ammunition clips, covered in dirt and blood, holding guns...
The tears running down the cheeks suddenly change their scary appearance. Wiping the tears from their faces, they try not to let their generals and the people around see them cry.
They cry for the friends they have lost.
Death and friendship side by side
I am the only civilian besides the paramedics. I see the traces of compassion, love, tears, friendship and anger in the “world of brothers in arms” to which I am foreign. I see how a rigid and scary life and death is based on a very emotional, simple friendship.
A brigadier general embracing a police officer, a police commissioner kissing a lieutenant on his forehead, a head official of district wiping away the tears of a sergeant... This is a world of people that share their grief, breathe deeply, cry, get angry and take courage.
'Don't tell my wife I'm wounded'
The wounded lieutenant says something to the police commissioner who kisses his forehead. Overlooking the wounds on his body he says, “ I am fine, please take care of the others.” Later on I find out that he also said, “Please don't tell my wife I'm wounded; she will be very scared.” I walk out trying to hold my tears back.
The survivors wipe their tears away, embrace each other, hold each other tightly and return to the conflict zone with full determination. They specifically don't wipe away the blood of their martyr and veteran brothers. They return to their posts before night falls. Two days later news comes: “Cizre is cleaned of all terrorists.”
How can you tell a family that their son is no longer alive?
The telephones on the desk suddenly start to ring. The police commissioner and the general pick the phones up in an instant. “Is there something wrong?” is the first question they ask. And then they ask the miserable question, “Did you get our martyr?”
This news coming from the Gendarmerie Special Forces (JÖH) or the Police Special Forcers (PÖH) in the close combat zone is the news on the martyrdom of a security personnel. There are frowns on faces, breaths are held and cigarettes are lit. The governor, the division commander and superiors are called.
And when the ambulance enters the lodging
I had never thought about it before: How was the news of a martyr given to the families living in lodgings? I shuddered when a police officer living in the lodging explained it to me:
“An ambulance comes when the news of a martyr is given. Just in case members of the family faint upon receiving the bad news. When an ambulance enters the housing complex, everyone rushes to their windows. If the ambulance goes toward another block, they quickly run to their telephones. They call their husbands, brothers or fathers and ask if they are fine. If they confirm that their loved ones are fine, they quickly go to the house the ambulance is parked in front of to offer their support. If the ambulance stops in front of their house, then, the wails and cries start.”
The cries in villages
The scenario is the same in the military lodging. Breaking the bad news... It isn't easy to give a mother, a wife, a son, a daughter the news that their loved one is martyred. Those crying in their neighbors' house start to wail in the fear that one day it will be their loved one who is killed. Sometimes the officers lose their soldier's resoluteness in a gush of emotions.
The grief is no different in the villages when the families of soldiers are told that their loved one has been martyred. Apparently mothers start to wail and cry the minute they see an ambulance enter their village. They say, “The lost one is a son, whether he is mine or my neighbor's.”
It seems like those who battle in the field grow stronger with every grief. Whether a martyr or a veteran, every new casualty strengthens those battling in the forefront.
When we enter the life of those surviving or those standing distant, we see how foreign we are to their world.
And then, think about what you were busy doing when a soldier was carrying his martyr or veteran friend away from the battlefield (and then returning back himself) or when a family's heart was torn with the news of the loss of their loved one.