I live in a farming village so I am used to hearing the sound of gunfire...farmers shooting the wild boar to stop them eating crops. Often this is at night. My heart skips a beat because I worry that these men might be shooting the street dogs, which I am absolutely certain does happen.
Men get trigger happy at village weddings. Getting drunk and firing their guns into the air as if in some way this adds to the celebration. There have been many reports in this country of people being killed or injured at weddings due to stray bullets. One of the reasons why I never attend village weddings.
I have encountered several incidents during my years in Turkey. When we lived in Side, a man fired his gun and shattered the windows of all the banks in the nearby town of Manavgat. Why? Because they wouldn't give him a loan. An off-duty policeman once sat on a beach in Side, firing his gun at pebbles....with holidaymakers all around him. He was arrested of course, and sent for psychiatric reports.
When we lived in Selcuk, a neighbour several apartment blocks away was firing his gun from his balcony, and shouting at the top of his voice. In spite of my protests, Mr A went to investigate, and actually stood talking to the man, who it seemed had been having a fight with his wife, who was cowering in the corner of the balcony. Thankfully the jandarma arrived and he was taken away before anyone was hurt.
Young men have to do their national service in Turkey, so they will be taught how to use guns. From an early age boys run around with toy guns, often dressed in little army uniforms, which I find quite sickening. Bad enough that they will possibly have to fight for their country when they are older, but it seems that parents find it somehow amusing to introduce them to this when they are so young.
Parents in this village think it is quite acceptable to allow their 11 and 12 year old boys to carry the small guns that fire pellets (I think they are called BB guns, but am not quite sure).
Two such boys, with guns, walked up past my gate yesterday. Luckily I was in the kitchen. I could see out but they couldn't see me. They raised their guns and started firing at my dogs in the driveway. Just a couple of pops...none of the dogs were hurt, but they were frightened.
I have never leapt out of my house so fast in all my life. I shouted at them, using a few choice Turkish swear words and told them I would be ringing the jandarma. I chased them up the hill and noticed which house they entered.
I phoned Mr A and it seems that these boys are sons of a friend of his, so he phoned him. The boys denied having fired the guns...well they would, wouldn't they? Apparently they only use them for shooting birds...clearly this is acceptable!!!
I posted the following on the village Facebook page, and a friend translated it into Turkish for me. I had several "likes", interestingly all from people who have moved away from the village.
"Please parents of this village be responsible and do not allow your young children to have guns. Two boys have walked past my house today and were firing their small guns at my dogs. These boys are only about 12 years old. This is dangerous and irresponsible behaviour. It must stop, or I will notify the jandarma. Incidentally, all my dogs have kimliks (pet passports) and as such are protected by the law, so if anyone harms them, they will be prosecuted"
I had a couple of comments:
"Mrs kaya , in the World of war today ,it seems inevitable to be affected by the events around us,you have wishful thoughts about that , I agree ,yet to some degree children will be children.
"In my eyes, this is not normal behaviour for children...to deliberately set out to harm innocent animals. It's up to the parents to teach them right from wrong. And this is wrong."
His response: "yes,it is also the responsibility of teachers"
And from another man:
"Linda, i don't remember if i said that to you, but, wellcome to turkey.. we do not love ourselves and other people, we hate from our brothers and sisters.. so, animals, you know.. sorry.."
(I think it is clear what this man is trying to say...sad isn't it?)
I have just come back from feeding the dogs in the village, and judging by the looks and the whispers from the teahouse, I think news of my message has spread.
What good it will do, remains to be seen.