SAFAK PAVEY: Thank you very much for your gracious hosting and your kind invitation. I'd like to also recognize here Lisa, who's been a wonderful friend for me. In my eyes, she's a rising star in academia and as important as a female I have come across with her and her analysis as a unique one, because she actually can read our region from a cultural point of view as well, not only by the mind, but by the heart and the soul.
So first of all, I would like to use the word that in my culture of Anatolian culture, let's say, there is a [NON-ENGLISH]. And in that culture, everyone is a soul, and we have a female version of it. Soul is jan, and the female soul is janan. So I would like to salute you all, souls and janans-- jans and janans, as we say.
I would like to start with this, what Professor Miyazaki has actually told us about the Syrian context, Turkey in the middle of its refugees, European Union, global crisis of security, which actually is sadly wiping away our dream of living together.
And I would like to take you back at moment in my life, a turning point, in fact, at the very middle of Syrian conflict, just at the very beginning. Exactly three years and one week ago, I witnessed the conversation in Hatay, which is the borderline town on the other side of the Syrian border in Turkey. And I thought this is the right place, right time to convey that today and right here with yourselves.
My colleague from the region received a call. I was there for women's day event, visiting and being together with the great, courageous women of Hatay. And my colleague from that town, an MP himself as well, has received a call from a father from another corner of our country.
And this father was actually looking for a young Syrian migrant girl, if possible not having passed the age of 18 and with green eyes as a second wife for his 30-year-old son. And he was also asking the methods and the ways of payment, how he can pay for it. He felt that it was appropriate to ask this MP from the region, because he felt that it was natural cultural way of behavior. He was convinced about it. So he didn't feel shy about it or embarrassed.
My friend's face was turned into white, stone white. And he put the call on the speaker phone so that we can witness this call along with him, as many other calls that he was receiving at that time, March 2013, in his cell phone as an MP of Hatay. And it was a daily call that he was receiving.
So we recorded it together. We witnessed it. And that is exactly the day that I decided to travel to Syria with my courageous, brave friends, colleagues, comrades, as you may call it, because as he wanted us to hear that call, he wanted us to remember forever the turning point and the embarrassing point that the humanity has arrived, for us not to forget. Therefore, our duty was actually to witness and to listen to all sides of this escalating conflict in the middle of that propaganda internationally, where everyone and when everyone was actually supporting war crimes.
So that is the-- in a couple of days, we decided to travel to Syria. And we tried to negotiate for the release of Turkish journalists, finding out about the destiny of an American journalist who had disappeared back then. We tried to contribute to the efforts of peacebuilding, which was a weak but still an existent effort back then.
It was, of course, with our small steps and small moves that we had. We tried to reunify families who were separated by the borderline between Syria and Turkey, those migrants, who have left their beloved behind. And I crossed the border to go back to my country and the women's day, 8 March. I will never forget that scene.
Those villager women were basically bending on their knees, having heard that we were going to cross that point of borderline. They were praying us for Turkish administration not to escalate the conflict further and for the peace to arrive in both countries.
Our efforts have been attacked, of course, by the dark propaganda and collective war cries back then. Our voice has disappeared. What can we say, as again, in Anatolian culture we say, well, thanks to those friends who tried to protect us. Let them live forever.
Societies are like children. They do not grow easily like yourselves. They require many, many efforts. We are witnessing today the sadness of the children of our mother lands in the East and in the West, as we have seen also yesterday in the bombing, the innocent souls. We are witnessing our next door neighbors lose their children in this war.
In the East, people are dying of not having-- well, of curfew, not being able to make it to a fire. The people are dying out of suffocation in a burning building. Firefighters cannot reach them due to curfews. People who have never seen the sea and do not know how to swim are dying in the sea in the western front of the country.
In the metro parts, as we have seen yesterday, we watch innocents die by the hands of jihadist barbarians and terrorism. Left behind are shattered, very much shattered and sad lives.
I want to take this moment to express once more my deepest condolences for those lives lost yesterday as well as many others before. And my best wishes for a prompt recovery to the survivors of those who have been the victims of this terrorism.
And of course, we have our parliaments in Turkey, which has become to a state that, when the previous Ankara bombing had happened just next door to the parliament, we have been shaken at the plenary when with some of my colleagues we started to walk to the incident place.
I've heard the very words by the Deputy Speaker who has said openly that these things happen in our country. We will continue with the ordinary plenary agenda. This shows sometimes that parliaments can turn into dysfunctional spaces if we don't feel street's pain and what is happening and responsibility of protecting lives. Then why are we parliamentarians, one questions? Why people have trusted us to represent them if we are not being even able to show them some compassion? Forget the empathy.
I'm not going to discuss here now and why we came to this point, because we have nowhere else left. We have sent them long ago. And moreover, breath is very precious. Moment is very precious. Life is really priceless. This is why today I have chosen not to talk to you about the deaths of which wrong policies, wrong readings of the region have caused since 2003. It has become a region of Pandora's box opening, opening up like Russian matryoshka dolls, non-stop.
The disasters do not end in my region. But rather, I would like to cherish once again the value of living together. So therefore, I would like to present to you some humble analysis as well as some solutions which are urgently needed in my region. Our Aegean shores previously renowned for their touristic attractiveness, our majestic coastlines and agricultural prosperity are living through hell, as death and security threats go on and on.
We hear the tragic stories of the helpless victims of migration and the good intentions and generous hosting city and village dwellers. And mostly we hear them from social democratic municipalities, which are our municipalities. Our municipalities, our thinking, our mindset in Turkey, which also exists despite all odds and the global rise of Islam in my country, political Islam I'm talking about.
There is a segment in Turkey, which is very strong thanks to the Anatolian way of living and thinking and beliefs that has kept it alive until today thanks to Ataturk's vision, thanks to the modernity attempts in my country, we are also alive. We will survive, because we know that our survival or non-survival will have global consequences. So therefore, we exist, and these municipalities are ours. Western shoreline is where we live, where we take refuge. It's our shelter.
For modernity to continue, it has to be strengthened with efforts. So therefore, my municipalities have not been enrolled as whole in the doings of the strong policies. But also they have to carry the debris and the trauma as they look in the eye of the crying and hopeless victims of migrants. All we need to do is to listen to them, because I believe every solution we are looking for lies in the people who live through them, not those that are deciding what is the solution up and about without the touch of people.
In my culture, we start our suppers with a soup. So I would like to begin with a starter soup story, which I have shared recently in the UN platform as well, from a different perspective than being a migrant, which comes from your country, in fact, in the US. It was the early 2000s, and I was in New York. My friends and I went looking for a small Turkish restaurant famous for its soup. The employees were first-generation migrants and spoke Turkish among themselves.
While waiting for our lentil soup, which we are famous for, we began hearing sentences like-- from the shop owner-- some think the soup to the tourists over there or the tourist sitting at that table still didn't get his lentil soup. In the world of the soup shop owner and his employees, they were locals and the Americans were tourists in the middle of the New York, Manhattan. It is easy to enjoy the humor caused by the perception of these first-generation migrants. But this situation also gives us clues about what it means to join a new society.
Now, let me take you one step back, and perhaps to understand this migration story, we need to again come to today and then understand, put ourselves in the shoes of those migrants, trying to find a space for themselves to survive, trying to fit in. And perhaps the hard line on integrative migration groups needs to also be opened up. So I'd like to elaborate on that a little bit later on in the speech.
I think we will witness the consequences of these mass migration movements, not only in the near future, but in the next century. And nobody can clearly foresee the outcome. I think we, the politicians, may not be sure about what to do, as ever, how to solve this great challenge that connects us across the borders.
Military actions, including proxy ways of waging war, are returning as a flood of people. And I believe we now need to focus urgently on how to ease humanitarian needs with inclusive solutions, not just aid programs, and with collective compassion as what it is to work on solutions to prevent further migration moves so that you, the young, brave, brilliant minds, do not have to deal with this burden that we would leave you. And we should. It's our mission and duty to take it off your shoulders.
I believe that is only possible by finding ways to keep people content at their own homelands. In world history of contemporary politics, we are witnessing for the first time that migrants are in sociological reality strong enough to determine the political fate of their native country as well as the country of migration. They can't vote in both.
We are also witnessing clientelist politicians tapping into this as an approach of appealing to more votes. Even stuffing their political campaigns amongst migrant communities or fundraising with the savings of their hardworking migrant compatriots, sponsor their political campaigns back at home, as we have witnessed where the current leadership-- so-called leadership-- in Turkey, having raised their votes from Germany based Turkish migrants and their savings.
So far, we have heard of legends where intelligence services of the country determine the political fate of another country. Hollywood films showed us the way. But this is a case where citizens of the country determine the politics in another country. This is new. It belongs to contemporary politics of today.
We are talking of people's power who are able to vote for two different regimes as well. We can witness some hard unintegrated migration group members in European countries voting for social democracy, which means, in European context, social democracy. And back in their homelands, voting for fascism, voting for dictatorship, voting for political Islam.
Then why do these communities who are invaluable for those opportunistic politicians cause tremendous anxiety all to the sudden, I ask myself? The whole world is in an emotional state about migrants. And it is easy to invoke antagonistic feelings against the other at times like this. And this is exactly our question as a starting point for finding solutions, I believe.
Despite the idea of the great fusion of cultures, different cultures have yet to resolve the issue of how to live together. Polarization and discrimination are at their historical peak, unfortunately. And the primary problem for society has become security, which recalls the Moravian invasions of 13th century.
On the other hand, there is another change in parallel that gives me hope. That is you, at your age actually. The technological revolution of the last 50 years is changing the world in ways that we cannot even comprehend. It's very exciting and it's very fast, and it's steadily bringing us closer in very mysterious ways across borders. That is amazing.
Innovation is beyond what we can control, and that is exactly what I like about it. We will be living in communities that are more cosmopolitan-- I have no doubt about it-- and more interactive than ever, ever before. These changes also raise critical human rights issues, of course. We need to talk about perceptions of migrants, the legends we all believe in.
Only in this way, we can begin to work towards realistic solutions concerning the true barriers that prevent integration and realization of human rights and freedoms for all. Now, you can move to the perceptions quickly. migrants think that the host community is immoral, and the host community thinks that migrants have immoral values and practices.
Here, I would like to share a little anecdote and just remind you that little anecdote actually that I shared as well at the very beginning about the Syrian girl and the father not feeling shy or embarrassed about asking about it. So although my parliamentarian friend and I and like-minded people were in shock, this was a reality in my lands.
So this is exactly what we need to talk about-- courageously, bravely putting our sleeves up to find a way for the next 20 years' challenge of reconciling freedoms and tradition, not compromising on any standards of human rights and freedoms that have been gained thanks to the struggle of earlier generations-- previous generations-- than us, but finding different ways of beating it, finding a way to reconcile them both and convince the societies, not the states any longer, the who are already on board with international conventions of human rights.
One of the particular contesting areas of perception is the behavior of women. This includes being friendly to men, wearing revealing clothes, drinking and eating equally with others in social environments, and laughing loudly sometimes can cause a lot of trouble in my region. Indeed, in the perception of some cultures, equality among different sexes leads to women to lose their chastity, as it is believed, and lose their integrity therefore.
Belief comes first and among some migrant cultures, because belief means the world. Adapting to the new culture is understood as losing one's own culture or turning into an infidel sometimes. Of course, the perceptions can change depending on the level of education of the individual migrants. But a common belief is that becoming like them means losing your own values. This may be a reality also for those hard unintegrated migration groups in Europe.
There is one more phase to integration that we almost never consider. Inside the closed migrant communities, there are also those who try very hard to adapt, who are extremely grateful to the host countries and believe these countries have cultures worthy of respect, like myself, who has been migrant as well.
As you see, when we set aside prejudices and legends, we see that there are communities within communities, again just like Russian matryoshka dolls. And I have seen at the Cornell that you have some toys with the Cornell brands with Russian matryoshka dolls. So I'm planning to buy one tomorrow, because I keep referring to it these days. It will be a nice memory.
It is very common to find miniature Tunisia, for instance, in Amsterdam or a miniature Afghanistan in Tehran, where I lived for close to three years. In fact, these colonies are not defined by their national character alone. They bring with them and continue the same sectarian or ideological struggles of their countries of origin.
In fact, ethnic and religious identities become all the more relevant among migrants. migrant communities do not build walls between each other. They also do build walls towards the host culture. By doing this, they think that they can overcome the threat of integration and external influence.
The host society prefers, on the other hand, to put all migrants behind one wall in clearly defined migrant ghettos. So a cliff opens up between us as a global society, and social values turn into weapons with which the communities under siege threaten each other.
What is most tragic is that the fifth generation migrants are much more closed-minded than those of the first generation, I observed in Europe especially. This is why terrorism is no longer a product of migration, but it is homegrown. Host societies may not be willing to accept it, but this is the truth. As long as these barriers are not discussed openly, attempts at inclusion face strong resistance on both sides. One side does not want to include and the other side does not want to be included.
Maybe my proposed solutions may seem very essentialist to you, but if we discuss them together, I think we can reach somewhere. Let us look at it in terms of three pillars underpinning the UN-- United Nations-- to guide us through.
And it's thanks to Jane Connors, my mentor at the UN, a great UN diplomat, who has also seen the making of CEDAW and CSW work. That was the start of her second career at United Nations until we had met. She has done marvelous things, including previously lecturing at SOAS-- international law. So she is exactly the person who has taught me these principles and the three pillars, what they enveloped. Therefore, I say let's invest more in the pillar of peace and security, in the pillar of development, and in the pillar of human rights. As simple as that.
And to conclude on what we can do together perhaps. First, given that neither the migrants nor the hosts are happy with the current situation, the most positive step would be to create conditions for people to live in their own countries, as I said.
This may sound Utopian, but there is an easy choice to it, that no country wage war on lands that do not belong to them, even in a proxy way, or send military troops to change regimes. And that let us raise hell for those who try. Next time, more with more wars in unity and coordination thanks to technology.
History shows us that military interventions have produced and keep producing terrible, terrible results. We must bring an end to this shame. It's shameful. One of the greatest sources of anxiety against migration is the security issue. Here, if we can make the host-- host communities-- feel safe, migration will no longer be an urgent issue, I believe. Perhaps we should remember that there is also another side to security, which is the fact that we cannot protect migrants either, refugees either.
We need to remember that migrants and refugees feel similar security threats. That women, girls, migrant refugee girls are under constant threat. Just a couple of months ago in the host town of Gaziantep, close to win refugees in Turkey, a journalist who was waiting to be resettled in France has been killed the same way as our souls by the barbaric jihadists in daylight. Just been shot. migrant girls are always under constant threat of being stolen from their families, being sold, raped, caged, as we have witnessed.
We should start investing in ideas such as separated neighborhoods in those host countries and traditional institutions to fit different cultures different ways. But instead, we should invest in occupational training, equal education opportunities that bring us together and protect migrants from the influence of traditional parents that puts migrants into a rotten box. They exercise their political power over them.
My dear friend, Hamdi Ulukaya, who is also migrant, the shepherd's yogurt big king. He's a migrant from Turkey, a migrant in the US. And he is the owner of Chobani Yogurt and the founder of it. He has started this marvelous initiative that you can also contribute, I believe-- the TENT Initiative for UNHCR.
He is trying to bring all the private sector multinationals and businessmen across the world-- businesswomen-- across the world to contribute to it. Shelter, finding employment, because he says these miraculous words that also made it like suddenly click in my mind. He said that once you actually employ migrant and refugee in the host country, they stop being migrant and refugee. So we can perhaps think about contributing to that initiative, that he's doing it from his heart, contributing with everything he has.
Undertaking this kind of big investment would strengthen the sense of developing among migrants, and then we will witness a miracle on the security front as well, I believe. The magic potion, therefore, for inclusion and more secure future for all is through creating mixed neighborhoods with and through equal opportunities for all.
Second, global migration made us forget how much our future relies on development, the second pillar, agriculture and food security that is awaiting as a challenge for your generation, unfortunately. We need to encourage sustainable agriculture and small-scale family farming in countries like mine where local farms at the Aegean shores, small family businesses of tourism and trade need to be strengthened for their survival so that they can also afford to locally host those migrants in desperate situations.
Did you know that most of the Syrians who are dying on the shores of my country are tricked by human smugglers with the hope to work in the farms of the Aegean. Then they find out that such thing is a lie when they arrive from the borderline towns to the Western shores. And then they fall in the hands of the sea human smugglers and they die in a sea where they don't even know how to swim. Most of them have never seen the sea in their lives.
Did you also know that Syrians have never had the intention to migrate? This is evident and proven by the fact that Syrians do not have a diaspora in the Western countries. So the reality and the truth is before our eyes.
We can use the great knowledge that they bring to us with their migration in Turkey, the knowledge of land, the knowledge of growing and being part of the farming society, if we only support the host farmers who are being completely left to their destiny and very much weakened by the policies of the Turkish administration-- current Turkish administration-- which believes in investing in the concrete rather than food. I don't think we get into concrete in the future.
We need urgent help therefore for strengthening Turkish family farmers, entrepreneurs of the Aegean towns, and social support programs directly provided to local authorities of Western Turkey is a key for them to be able to offer a temporary safe home and employment for Syrian migrants, which is our common hope.
And let us not forget agriculture gives people peaceful roots with better results than local humanitarian aid while also reducing the desire to migrate further. So investing in agricultural solutions is also a prevention method, I believe, for future migration.
And this was repeated, to my delight, at the Munich Security Conference very recently, which is an important summit, which I have been lucky enough to be invited. And I have seen on a panel Lebanese prime minister, Salam Tammam, was saying the same thing-- agriculture is one way to support us.
Finally, let us please not forget that migration is a human right. Of course, we do not have to change human rights principles to please migrant cultures, and we will get better results if we try to change the local cultures to fit the higher ceiling of international role standards. Let us not allow the politicians who are doing this easy way just to appeal to more votes, giving in.
I do not think that it is sensible to allow the establishments in host countries to justify traditional institutions in the name of cultural rights. That is the most dangerous gamble that the human rights community is taking, that often this cultural race, let us not forget, often made the life of those migrants a hell that they want to run away from.
And when they arrived to unite with their migrant community in a host country, they found themselves in the same hell that they had to escape, sometimes by taking the risk of being killed by an honor killing, by a societal pressure, committing suicide. They're trying to also find ways to get out of this hell or so-called cultural rights gamut.
Becoming included is neither a sin nor a crime nor does it mean ceasing to exist, we should explain. We should convince these societies that this is not going to harm them. It means being included in the common life of ordinary people. This is something that we have learn only if we bring down strong barriers between us. Once it was said, by the Human Rights High Commissioner on a stage at Human Rights Council that the budget-- the chocolate budget of the multinational companies is much more than what is given to human rights pillar of the UN.
Well, I'm certainly not saying let's not eat chocolate. That's a marvelous thing. So I beg to differ there, and I don't want anyone to feel guilt, shame for taking pleasure out of life, like eating chocolate. However, what I would like to say is that let's eat it together. We have enough resources to share with our siblings across the world, I believe. We really do.
A miracle of inclusion would be to have the international financial institutions to invest more generously on a good life in the home country, in the original country, perhaps by turning their chocolate budgets halfway through into human rights contributions.
So let me conclude now in the Turkish way again with a sweet soup that we serve as a dessert at the end of the dinner. It is called ashura and that ashura is also in the culture of Syrian food. And it was [INAUDIBLE] during the best of them.
This soup is made by the contributions of the townspeople. It represents shared abundance out of solidarity and unity that we built with each other. It is part of living together. Transforming lives for the better collectively, it means. Sharing the abundance. I think it is time that we make an ashura together with whatever we have at our homes. And we share our ashura with each other. And I think more than anything, more than anybody, what we need right now exactly is compassion for each other. Those who are in pain and desperate situation for humanitarian needs do not need empathy any longer.
As a great man, wise man, the religious man has said once-- Matthieu Ricard, the Buddhist monk living on the Himalayas. He has transformed-- he has actually went into, as I heard, into the body of the refugee trying to feel the same pain. And he cried, and he was trembling so much. When he woke up, he said they don't need me to feel their pain. They need my compassion the most.
So perhaps we can follow compassionate ways to share with each other. Only then we may be able to realize that miracle of opening the gates of living side by side transparently and in safety without being scared from each other, being afraid of each other, with open arms.
And I would like to repeat and reiterate once again the very first solution that was actually presented by Ataturk, the great founder of our secondary republic, which was the first attempt in the geography of Islam to have attempted at a modern life, living a modern life. Equal rights for women. That was the opening gate for us.
There are so few people at your age who are interested in studying the modern history of Turkey. So I wish out of this room some of you feel the passion for it. I do hope that that doesn't disappear by the time you become professionals. We will make sure it doesn't. That is also important that your analytical minds help us find ways, your brilliant minds show us some different ways that we can survive, and we can continue in this journey of modernity rather than fall back into the dark Middle Eastern ages.
So therefore, I would like to repeat the words of Ataturk right here. That was the first solution, the first pillar, the most important, I believe, about peace and security. He said at the start of the 20th century, peace at home, peace in the globe.
So this is the very end, and I would like to thank you for sharing your time and for your patience for listening to me. Thank you.
SPEAKER 1: Thank you very much for this wonderful message of hope. Do you have questions?
SAFAK PAVEY: Sure. Of course. Of course. I'm open to any questions.
SPEAKER 2: Hi, [INAUDIBLE] mainly for Turkey, for you to actually [INAUDIBLE]. I ask something that you've already touched upon, but [INAUDIBLE] regarding the situation in Turkey. OK, the Sunni people are seeking refuge in Turkey. We are aware of that. But looking for a more controversial-- for a stake in the social and economic rise perspective, do you think that these people are actually-- OK, they have place to sleep, but they're not given the-- they're not [INAUDIBLE] and other than that.
So even though the government is actually supporting their migration to Turkey, they are not giving them the tools to work for themselves and earn their incomes. They are just like laborers, like illegal laborers but in another context.
And my question is, this is also creating an antilogism in Turkey. And how can we solve the problem since Turkey is a place that generally can give its own people this? Now we are creating another minority. So what, in the future-- what can we do to solve this problem?
SAFAK PAVEY: Saying it, my great compatriot, who is an old student. This is a living proof for yourselves that I-- actually, before Zanaf arrived, having not heard my speech or the solution that I was suggesting, she asked the question. So with her own comments as well. I thank you very much. It actually completes the full picture.
You ask the question. I gave the answer before. It was agricultural solutions is the most important right now, because that's what Syrian refugees can offer. Lebanese prime minister has repeated the same. He also repeated the construction business, but we have enough of construction business, I think, for corruption purposes in my country. So I think that's the end of concrete business.
I do hope that we can find some solution by supporting family farmers on the Aegean shoreline who are very poor and desperate conditions-- in desperate conditions themselves but who are very good hearted and would be gracious hosts if we support them, if we strengthen them by agricultural funds directly-- directly given to them, not as a mediator. Through NGO, through well-monitored mediators.
Then we can make sure, and I'm sure-- I come from that region myself as well, I know the characteristics of those people-- that they will be wonderful hosts and will provide a temporary safe home and will also provide employment as a labor for their farms by these Syrian refugees who already know how to farm. So I think that may be one practical solution and immediate solution. Thank you. Yes, please
SPEAKER 3: Thank you once again for coming and speaking on these important issues. So if I read correctly, in a number of occasions, you mentioned how political parties look at one page of this very unfortunate humanitarian crisis. So if you can help us understand, it will be better-- I mean, many would argue probably Turkey has done a very commendable job, at least temporarily, in accommodating so many-- I mean, huge number of refugees. So if you can help us understand better where Turkey probably could have done better. Yeah, just take on that.
SAFAK PAVEY: Of course. It is thanks to the gracious-- well, the common sense and generosity of the common people, not the Turkish administration. The international funds that have been given to the Turkish administration's central government has never been shared with those cities, for instance, that are not affiliated with their political party.
Like Hatay, who is carrying an extra population of Syrians of 500,000 people at the borderline of Syria, with very sensitive security issues. But Hatay municipality belongs to a social democrat who was brought from my party, from the main opposition, Ataturk's party.
And it is not-- the funds do not fall down to Hatay. It was given to [INAUDIBLE] Gaziantep, where there are also very immediate security threats and a certain amount of population extra from Syrian refugees, which I have shared with you the incident of the journalist, for instance, being killed on the street. That was in Gaziantep.
But those funds apparently are not being spent for the protection of these refugees in the urban. In the camps, as an MP who has worked in the refugee area-- protection of refugees-- for many years before I joined political life of Turkey, I have been denied five times by the administration to access the camps as an elected person.
So what is going on there? We're not very sure. But back in 2013, with this story that I shared with you, the Syrian girl being sold and everything, I have dived deep into the streets of those borderline towns and have been working on different issues together, alongside with my great colleagues from the region.
And my observations, my findings show me, together with other analysts and correspondents as well who have reported on this is that the camps-- the very closed camps-- are being used as militant based for those to cross the border, come back and rest. So humanitarian funds, we are unable to audit the humanitarian funds that are being given to the central government.
So far, you may remember the story very recently, two journalists have been released, thanks to God. I mean, we celebrated their freedom together. But we need to continue to make sure that they will never be jailed again. What did they report on? They reported on the crossing of guns and militant elements to the jihadists across the border by the hand of Turkish government's favorite and only implementing partner, IHH. That is who the funds are channeled to.
So the administration of camps, of course Turkey has been gracious, but it is thanks to the people. If in another country, 2.5 million now by official numbers had been in the urban in these situations, there could have been a social clash. So it is the generous hearts. It's the common sense of our people which made this possible despite all of it.
I wonder and I would like an inquiry actually on those funds, where they have been channeled and everything. We have been asking that in parliament. We have received no replies, no responses. Even on official, like on the record parliamentary inquiries like I did, like many of us did on the main opposition party, we haven't received any official replies from the prime ministry, from the-- sorry?
SPEAKER 3: So how is 2.5 million--
SAFAK PAVEY: Million people.
SPEAKER 3: --are being taken care of?
SAFAK PAVEY: It is with volunteerism.
SPEAKER 3: Generosity.
SAFAK PAVEY: Yes. Generosity of people. People are sharing even the socks of their children. Food, making ashura, distributing it, making soup. Volunteerism. Volunteerism is at the very core, a major-- that's a word, again coming from Anatolian way of life. In the West, in the East, people are surviving on these means without any crumbs even shared with them, with the real people that are working on the field.
Very funny fact as well, which I'm very curious about is that international credible and nationally accredited NGOs, civil society organizations, have not been included or invited to be part of the humanitarian operations. They don't want any credible eyes and ears to witness what they're doing. That is why.
An MP is being denied to access the camps. The civil society, the credible ones who have the expertise, are not being invited. Humanitarian law is not being applied. For instance, ICRC is the expert. If we have militant elements amongst the refugees infiltrated groups, which is also a danger to them, do you know that refugees are changing their-- despite not having anything, that they are changing the districts where they stay roughly in the part or in little houses that they get and collectively stay together.
They change it every week so that their little boys and little girls do not get identified by these infiltrated groups, jihadist groups. Their girls could be sold and raped and used for a jihad purpose of being a bride-- they want jihad brides-- or their boys can be taken to any camp in Turkey to be trained as a militant person.
So we need to apply humanitarian law immediately with ICRC expertise. Where is it? It needs an invitation from the Turkish administration as a state, so for sovereignty reasons. So why it is not there? Why the militant elements and those individuals are not being separated from the genuine refugees for their protection and the host community's protection? Why?
We need to ask these questions and try to find the answers together, I believe. Is that a bit more clarification? Thank you so much for your good question. Thank you.
SPEAKER 4: So you talked about how in the country which is very culture abiding instituting laws is not enough. So if you had to go back and give Ataturk advice about how to like bridge the center-periphery divide of the tradition and reform divide, and how to reconcile those, what would you say?
SAFAK PAVEY: It's not my place, but I think he has seen it already. That is why not only he has changed the country into a country of modern law, of a republic as well, but he has also done a lot of role modeling. He allowed-- you would see Ataturk with little girls swimming next to him. You would see a female pilot, and he is fare-welling her on a first flight experience or a teacher teaching the class and Ataturk is observing. So these photographs sometimes are much more powerful-- the captions and photographs are much more powerful on this culture dividing society than anything else.
I have seen it with my own little experiences while entering the parliament with a prosthetic leg. I thought it would never be an issue. And there was a dress code in our parliament of like, you know, like in uniform-- not a uniform. It's a civilian code, but for women to wear two piece, [NON-ENGLISH].
And that has been interpreted by-- it doesn't write skirt, but that had been interpreted back then in 2011 when I entered the parliament. Still back then, it was interpreted by speaker and the deputy speakers of the parliaments till then for being a skirt and a jacket. And the female parliamentarians before us have also requested for this to happen. So anyway, I put this aside now as an information.
I enter the parliamentary plenary for the first time, just like any other female MP, with a skirt, which has never been a problem for me, apart from post-conflict areas where people couldn't afford the prosthetic legs, and do you really need to cover your leg and not to, you know. But leaving aside as well, I entered and this has become a huge issue for the country going through a lot of troubles, and the whole issue has been my prosthetic leg.
I became Miss Leg of Turkey. I thought I was a parliamentarian, but because another issue sneakily was being discussed by that [INAUDIBLE]. So allowed the deputies to wear also head scarf. If they said it outright and openly, I would have supported it. But they tried to use my disability as a cover to push for it.
So I swore that I would never-- I would push for the bylaw to change together with the other female colleagues to wear the freedom. I am all for freedoms. Wear pants, trousers, and I wore jeans as well in the parliament. But for four years, I'm the first.
But for four years, in my first term, I resisted, resisted of wearing pants-- trousers because they tried to use that as part of their propaganda for head scarves, which they had to end up bringing to the plenary, which I supported with my words, like any other party in the parliament as well.
And since then, you know, until the end of my term, I didn't wear, because I couldn't believe the low of human beings in the parliament, world-renowned parliament. They didn't shy away of discussing, and especially men, they could shy away of discussing my prosthetic leg for four months that summer with my first step into the plenary.
But this also showed me another reality very quickly. First, I got confused. I thought, you know, where to hide because everyone was looking at my leg. But then four months later when the issue was closed, I saw the fruits of it. I saw more people walking with their disability on the street.
So if I was beaten at some level for this, then I said that is what is being a representative of people and in culture-abiding society role modeling, opening a way, you know, opening the barriers happens much more faster in role modeling.
So I think Ataturk saw that already at the beginning of the 20th century with his great vision. We are grateful for him to not allow us to have our freedoms and rights on the paper as women but also the social freedoms, the atmosphere where we could breathe. So I actually realized the importance of social freedoms that I was born into, and I took it for granted until living in [INAUDIBLE], not being able to step over the streets together with men.
It opened my eyes about social freedoms, how precious they are. They're like a breeze that we don't recognize so much, as much as we should. Like riding a bicycle, how important that is, having that right. Wearing jeans, reading a book, kissing your boyfriend or your friend in the park. These are all social freedoms, and I think it is priceless and precious. So every experience opens your eyes, and that was mine, recognizing the value-- the precious value of social freedoms for a woman as well as a man. Yes, please.
SPEAKER 5: The government of Turkey is reported to have taken over a significant number of press agencies and a large newspaper recently in Turkey. The presentation of ideas through the press, as you mentioned by Ataturk, et cetera, one of the key things to make a difference in the way people in Turkey thought. Your thoughts currently on press freedoms in Turkey and specifically for the migrant communities. How are they receiving news of what's going on in the world?
SAFAK PAVEY: You're very right, sir. But can I also take a couple more questions so that I can collectively presume? Is that OK? Thank you. Yes, please.
SPEAKER 6: I was reading an article about the EU Turkey and the one-in, one-out refugee deal.
SAFAK PAVEY: What, sorry?
SPEAKER 6: The EU-Turkey, like one-in, one-out refugee deal.
SAFAK PAVEY: Yeah.
SPEAKER 6: And I was just wondering what your thoughts were on that.
SAFAK PAVEY: OK. This is one question where--
SPEAKER 7: You mentioned social freedoms. You made the statement from Ataturk about peace at home, peace abroad. And then from an outsider's American looking into the Middle East conflict or the Syrian conflict, religious intolerance. Conflict. How do you reach modern social freedom? How do you resolve?
SAFAK PAVEY: Majority clashing with the stigma.
SPEAKER 7: Yes.
SAFAK PAVEY: Modern values.
SPEAKER 7: And religious intolerance from hundreds of years ago.
SAFAK PAVEY: Religious intolerance from hundreds of years ago.
SPEAKER 7: Groups of people not getting along.
SAFAK PAVEY: Oh, yeah. The social division in the society.
SPEAKER 7: Yes. Right. But also from a religious perspective.
SAFAK PAVEY: I understand. I understand. Freedoms for all is the answer to it, but--
SPEAKER 7: Right.
SAFAK PAVEY: Yeah.
SPEAKER 8: You were telling us about elected officials hadn't tracked where aid money is going.
SAFAK PAVEY: Sorry? I can't hear it.
SPEAKER 8: You were telling us about how elected officials in Turkey cannot track where aid money is going. There have been three bombings in Ankara, and not a single government official has been held accountable. A lot of the problems you seem to be talking about, including the refugee crisis, seem to sort of stem from some sort of inherent problem within Turkish democracy. Do you agree and, if so, why do you think that's the case?
SAFAK PAVEY: Yeah. Then I will pass, because then it will be giving too much privileges to a compatriot. So which I would like to, but I can't. Any other question? This would be the last, I believe. Yes, please.
SPEAKER 9: You mentioned how some other solutions to the immigration problems in Europe and across the world is having less divided immigration within cities and more mixed-- basically more mixture amongst people. How do you think governments can encourage that happening other than--
SAFAK PAVEY: Mixed neighborhoods.
SPEAKER 9: Yeah. Mixed neighborhoods. How do you think governments can encourage that happening, because it doesn't seem to be happening naturally in a lot of European countries?
SAFAK PAVEY: All right. And what's the number of these? There are so many. So if you could help me if I forget any. Yes. The last question? Yes, please.
SPEAKER 10: Unfortunately, occupied ruling governments also want a lot less collection. They have a bad track record of not using environment, but also people as well. And I've heard rumors that they basically register some of the refugees as voters that also can vote. Do you believe those rumors or did your parliament get any intelligence about those kind of rumors?
SAFAK PAVEY: I cannot-- it sounds right, but I cannot confirm it because I don't have that kind of information. It's everyone that also started two years ago. But these kind of rumors without having evidence about it is actually causing further antagonism and triggering antagonism between a migrant community and the host community. So I would not comment on it unless I know something concrete.
Second. How to encourage mixed neighborhoods, you asked. How to encourage them? By models, by creating pilot models. And making good models had a butterfly effect, I realized, even though it may be a small thing, you know, by making a great communication strategy around it and spreading it through technology and mainstream media, if they are interested as well. Making that story available to others to hear and open their eyes would be a collective effort that people can do, and politicians can pressurize to duplicate that model.
So if you have anything in mind that you have witnessed so far on the street, which is a good collective effort of a mixed neighborhood or if somebody else, a civil society organization talking about it, that this is the great model, then spread it. Spread the news. That's the least we can do, I believe, or be part of it. And pressurize your positions. You have a great democracy here. So your voice can turn into action easily.
So coming back to the Turkish democracy, you were saying-- could you just repeat the very essence of the question, please?
SPEAKER 10: Among the problem, you seem to be siding, seem to stand for the fact that there is something dysfunctional about--
SAFAK PAVEY: Dysfunctional about the democracy. Yeah.
SPEAKER 10: Do you agree and, if so, why do you think that's the case?
SAFAK PAVEY: Yeah. Well, as I said, Turkey has the great reputation of bringing together two continents, right? That's our brand. But unfortunately, we are unable as a society to bring together ourselves despite the differences that we have. Socially so divided we are, sadly, that even the names of our children are different.
You can understand immediately that nature-related shamanic themes like mine-- Safak, sunrise. They are the left wing modern families, children of them. And then you can also see those names that are selected very carefully from Koranic verses and understand that those are the children of more conservative, religious, pious people. There's nothing wrong with being pious as long as I said, you know, it's a guidance for our morality but not an imposition on others.
So I have nothing against freedom of religion and faith. But I have also nothing against for people to be nonbelievers and atheists or not to have religion that dominating in their life. I have something against them for religion to try to dominate the public life. That's a different thing. And that is called as expansion of 57 states of Islam right now, which is having a trouble all the time, not one with a good story. From Yemen, Yemen seems to be a democracy as well. No?
As curious as the end of the cold war, the American idea, the bright idea of democracy for all, has turned into something else and has taken villages close in different-- in my part of the world at least. So on the paper, Iran is a democracy, Yemen is a democracy, France is a democracy too. Korea-- North Korea is a democracy. I mean, on the paper, right? So it is People's Democratic Republic. No? So South Korea is a democracy. How do you define democracy?
But coming back to the Middle Eastern context, democracy has taken the religious cause. That concept, just as curious as sand turning into glass, has turned into something else in my region. Turkey is still the only hope for the region, for any synthesis to be produced from that big effort before us with the establishment of the republic to reconcile Islam, democracy, and secularism.
The parts that the world-- the international community-- applauded to political Islam with great enthusiasm has forgot the third pillar unfortunately. Secularism is what we need in the region, for women to breathe, for girls to be educators, for boys not to have the social pressure to kill a girl, for men and women to live in peace and with the neighboring countries. We need secularism more than anything in the Middle East.
So with the international spoiling of the political Islamists, this is where we have arrived today. But I still have my hopes high that we will manage. We put so much effort into this country. Our collapse to the Middle Ages would mean, as I said again before, a big-- bigger global security threat to all across the world.
We are so connected. So that is why it is worth to try visit Turkey. Now I'll do a tourism-- a little tourism thing. Because our tourism needs support. Don't be scared. Oh, no. We will protect you. We will-- our tourism people will find a way for you to have a joyful visit to Turkey. And if you want, volunteer work for refugees and humanitarian aid. We need-- we need support.
And more than any time, I mean, right now the modern people of Turkey who are not being supported and discriminated against as if they are not the citizens of the country by the Kurds, Turkish administration, with the mindset of [NON-ENGLISH] mindset. They are trying to turn our country into [NON-ENGLISH] version of North Korea. We should resist it, but we need to strengthen ourselves much more. So I am more than happy to share any suggestions for a good holiday, a vacation, if you are planning any, or a school tour or a volunteer tour for humanitarian purposes. And have I skipped freedom of expression and--
SPEAKER 6: The EU-Turkey refugee.
SAFAK PAVEY: The EU-Turkey. Freedom of expression is very apparent and evident that we have-- we became a big prison for journalists. But there, Turkey-- again, I very much believe in taking lessons from our past. Turkey has gone through this kind of very trying space for freedom of expression before as well, with the military coups and military tutelary periods.
We know how to survive out of it, and we will. We are trying, and we have celebrated just very recently the release of our friends thanks to the international pressures as well, as well as those who have put their hearts into it. We can survive this kind of pressure. Adunis, the great Syrian poet, once said-- which would actually give you the contradiction where we are-- freedom of expression is of course the most precious thing.
But Adunis, when he was asked in a tricky way to support, he was-- as you know, he is in exile. He is a migrant in France as far as I know. He's a great poet, who has been persecuted by the Syrian regime at the time. And he was asked to actually-- to give his intellectual support or his name to the new formation of so-called opposition-- armed opposition in Syria as a so-called opposition.
And he said, you know what-- and in Egyptian context as well-- you know what? A revolution that starts from a military barracks, I would never support that, because it would dictate over what I think, what I say. However, I would never, ever support a revolution that starts from the mosque, because that would then dictate not only how I speak, what I say, what I think, but also how I feel, how I live, dictate my soul. I would never allow that.
He never fell into the trap of Muslim Brotherhood's idea of being the brightest-- so-called brightest, at the time the moderate Islam democracy. So he knew the traps as a poet who has been persecuted by authoritarianism.
So what we cannot deal with right now is not only the leg of freedom of expression. Our social freedoms, our breathing space, maternity rights, freedoms are being-- collectively being targeted. But more than anything, as modern people, our existence. Secularism is under threat. Secular thinking is under threat. That's exactly where we need to look at, I believe.
So EU-Turkey. I hope that this is an answer, sir. But, I mean, of course, Turkey has become a big jailer of journalists, which we are trying. And Freedom House has come up with a great report that you may like to look at.
EU-Turkey relations has turned into a humiliating relationship unfortunately. I always believed that Turkey, the only concrete and real roadmap before Turkey is not being part of the big Middle East. What do they call that roadmap? The big Middle Eastern something. But not that. Not Shanghai Five. But in fact is the EU process-- accession process-- is the real true pathway-- roadmap-- before Turkey for not only harmonizing its laws but also principles and values.
I think that it has come to a stage that both sides are humiliating each other and are not sincere, which is a sad thing. However, with the refugee crisis, as I said, the story, we have seen it. I am rather sad to say today that we have told you so, is the sentence that-- the only sentence I can tell European counterparts who decided not to listen to us before because we were opposition.
I have seen European officials telling to our face, before Gaziantep protests, those brave youngsters, before they have shown them what was happening in Turkey, thanks to them, I have heard these sentences like you, authoritarian seculars, and them, democrat Muslims. These words said to us. And they decided not to listen to us at the time and our sister parties included. And a very strange way.
So all of us are paying for not having acted, not having listened, having closed our eyes all together. But for those of us, those of great innocent ordinary people, which is a very difficult business for survival in Turkey, they are paying the price with their lives, like last night, like two weeks ago, like one month before that.
That was 20th July, that was the start of all that escalating violence, both on the terrorism side as well as barbaric jihadist side as well as the state side, increasing the violence in my country. And the first victims of it were those-- your generation of people, who went to Syrian borderline town of Suruc to take some toys for the Yazidi girls. And they were bombed by the barbaric jihadists. They were at your age. 34 of them was the official statistic.
I do know many other who are left behind trying to rebuild their lives without a leg, without a spine, without an eye. So perhaps those who are not paying for what they have done wrongly, for not having listened enough, it is difficult to wish something bad for people. But what we say in a very neutral way is that I hope everyone who has done something or who hasn't done something receives the same in their lives and for those innocent lives not to suffer for other's wrongdoings.
That's exactly where we are with Europe. I believe that Europe has been taken hostage right now by the refugee crisis, which said I'm coming a long time ago. Everybody could have seen that. They've heard that. There were great people from Turkey trying to tell the story, the real story, but sometimes that propaganda is so powerful that it even convinces those across borders, that propaganda that's been produced by the Turkish administration, the current administration. It's just, I hope that people do wake up and try to see, hear, and speak the truth very soon indeed. Thank you very much.
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Turkish Parliament member and human rights activist Safak Pavey discussed solutions to solving the Syrian refugee crisis March 14, 2016 as part of the Einaudi Center Foreign Policy Distinguished Speaker Series, co-sponsored by the Cornell Institute for European Studies.