Will Peace Flourish in the End? The History of Suffering: Terrorism in Turkey

Banu Baybars Hawks


For the past 30 years, the PKK has launched a campaign of terror in Turkey. Despite the rise and fall of attacks throughout the years, the PKK’s terrorist activities have never completely ended. Through the recent initiative of the Turkish government, negotiations focusing on pacification have been launched with the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, who is still in prison on Imrali Island. We have yet to see the outcome of this process. Terrorism is not simply about killing people; it is about destroying the population’s sense of well-being and trust in the government. In addition to the casualties and physical pain caused directly by an attack, the normal reaction to an unfamiliar and life-threatening event – fear, stress, worry, grief and confusion –also inflict suffering and social pain. In a world where information and communication play a key part, terrorists try to achieve the maximum possible media impact by the violent acts they commit. So when we define terrorism, we have to keep in mind that a three-way relationship exists between the main protagonists: terrorists want something from the government and work to achieve it through the agency of public opinion by seeking to terrorize the public at large in the most spectacular way possible. Public opinion in turn is influenced by the media which sometimes produces exaggerated accounts of terrorist events. This paper will seek to examine how this three way relationship has developed during the negotiation process with the PKK in Turkey. It will investigate how the ruling government (AKP) initiated the process, how public opinion has been formed in such an environment and whether it has influenced the government’s policies and decisions in regard to this issue. It will also explore how the media has reacted during this process. It is the author’s hope that the findings will be useful for policy-makers, media scholars, and academicians, as well as lay readers interested in the topic.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n10p278

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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