Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Read about great Turk man the "Peace Father"

What a fantastic story. This is the way that peace and morality can be gained back, through the individual efforts of great men such as he. Makes me proud of my Turkish ancestry on my maternal grandmother's side ;-)


How Kurdish Mr. Fix-It resolves blood feuds
In Turkey, where disputes last decades and can lead to loss of life, the 'Peace Father' works his magic with words, tears

DIYARBAKIR, TURKEY — Murat and Farida didn't know about the feud between their families when they first met at the university in this stone-walled town, a place where residents cling to long memories and ancient traditions. They found out only when Murat went home to tell his family, the Kamcis, that he wanted to marry a girl he had met at school whose last name happened to be Tarhan.

The news appalled the Kamcis and they forbade the nuptials. For 36 years, ever since a young Tarhan boy innocently let his goats graze on a Kamci pasture, the families had been at war. A member of the Kamci family slapped the Tarhan boy that day in the field and the blood feud was on. Four people were killed as a result of that slap, and dozens of others had been driven from their homes to preserve the dignity of the two names.

Distraught by their families' reaction, Murat and Farida went to see the local imam for advice. He told them that if they wanted to get married there was only one way - they must seek out the man known as the Peace Father.

Sait Sanli, the Peace Father's real name, is the 64-year-old wise man of Turkey's Kurdish southeast. Diminutive of stature, exceedingly polite and admittedly prone to tears, the former butcher is the man local residents turn to for advice when their blood starts to boil. By his own count, Mr. Sanli has resolved 449 blood feuds in the eight years since he agreed to mediate his first dispute, and he says none of the pacts he negotiated have since been broken. But his favourite story is the tale of Murat and Farida, the real-life Romeo and Juliet.

"They were crying. They told me they loved each other, but they couldn't get married because their grandfathers had a problem 36 years ago," Mr. Sanli said. "I cried with them."

The next day, Mr. Sanli went to work, travelling to see the elders of both families, as well as the widows and orphans on each side. He took an accounting of how much wrong had been done by each side over the decades. How many had been killed by each family (three Kamcis had died versus one Tarhan) and how much farming income had been lost (the Kamcis had seized 15 hectares of Tarhan land). Then he proposed a solution: Hadn't the blood debt owed by the Tarhans to the Kamcis been repaid by 36 years of free rent and farming income?

It was a simple suggestion, but one the two clans had never considered before. Mr. Sanli offered that the Tarhans should be allowed to return to their homes and that Murat and Farida get married. The two sides accepted and held a festive dinner in the Peace Father's honour.

Read the rest of the article, and you cannot help but be so totally charmed, as I am, by his humility and dedication to this great personal calling. More people should imitate him, for sure.