The story of a photograph

A selfie of three friends, Ezgi Sadet, Polen Ünlü and Dilan, taken at the celebrations in Bakırköy following HDP’s success in the general election when it won 80 seats in parliament, has become widely shared on social media following the Suruç Massacre.

2 of the 3 friends in the photograph, Ezgi and Polen, travelled to Suruç for the Kobani aid campaign. They both lost their lives in the bomb attack, and they were buried side by side. Dilan could not go to Suruç because of a last-minute hitch at school.

Dilan is 27 years old. She is continuing her Masters studies in economy at Yıldız Technical University. Ezgi Sadet was a student at the Department of Art History at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, while Polen Ünlü was a student at the Department of Philosophy at Istanbul University. They were both 21 years old. The three friends had worked together at the HDP election campaign in Beşiktaş. We spoke to Dilan at the HDP Beşiktaş District Headquarters. The building is crowded, but there is a deep silence. Everyone is rushing around, preparing for the funerals.

“It was only by coincidence that I could not join them. Something came up in the last minute. Now, there is a weight on me for not being there. We live by chance in this country, after all,” says Dilan. She tells us the story of the photograph, “We worked together, day and night, throughout the election period. We then went to celebrate the election results. They had given me a necklace as a present that day. Those who sense they will be departing always leave a memoir. And the necklace was their gift to me.”

Dilan also told us about the preparations made for the journey to Kobani. “We wanted to show the hope that life can continue there. Preparations were focused on the needs of children. A children’s park, a library, and a memorial forest were planned. The toys and clothes that children would need were collected. It was a symbolic step to say, ‘We, 300 people, can manage this’. We wanted to show that life can continue in Kobani.”

‘A small democratic Turkey coach’

Dilan says they were aware of the war and the danger in the region, adding that they wanted to show that this was not only the war of the Kurds: “Kurdistan has always embraced its friends. They were there to underline that. There were Laz, Circassians, Turks and Arabs among them. It was like a small democratic Turkey coach. The fact that young people aged 18-20 went their despite the threat of war, is valuable not only for the HDP, but for Turkey as a whole.”

Dilan was disturbed that their selfie was shared so much on social media. She is especially angry with those who were happy with the massacre, “If I had not seen what those young people believed in, and how they worked day and night, I would have said, ‘Was it worth dying for these people?’ But they will learn how to feel sadness, too.” 


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Uygar Gültekin