Ukrain and İtaly ; Lets Build a Common Democracy
ERASMUS + PROJESİ, BRICKS and SHARING – LET’S BUILD A COMMON DEMOCRACY 08 – 19 SEPTEMBER 2019/ UKRAINE Diyarbakır Environment and Development Association is a great opportunity to present a vision to young people in Diyarbakır. Every year around 200 students are sent to various projects in order to gain experience in harmonization with European Union and in order to development interaction and communication between cultures. Diyarbakır is a the city which is attach importance to Kurdish region and Turkey, due to the this reason the youth of Diyarbakır also important to have arbiter in these issues and to improve their perspective. The development of civil society is vital for the Kurdish geography and for the Kurdish people in Diyarbakır. As Diyarbakır Environment and Development Association it supports the young people's skills in subject such as youth rights, democracy, refugee, immigration and social media. It is the most important issue in the build the democracy , in view of the fact that the civil structure which are the necessity of democratic societies , will contributes to the democratization of the country. The Association will use the democratic methods whole stages of project starting from its own internal workings and will make and implement democracy-themed project for the development democracy. The way of influence the decision makers mechanism are to gain experience in such as projects. In particular, we are moving towards "gender mainstreaming" in our projects and project operations. Diyarbakır Environment and Development Association (ÇEVKA) is a member of various platforms in Turkey to influence decision makers in the development of civil society and more democratic country. The vice chairman of the Association is also a board member of the Turkish Youth Organization From, which is our roof organization. This structure contains a combination of 62 youth organizations in Turkey, it is one of the most important arguments for "building democracy " and "pluralism". We believe that Erasmus Plus projects are highly valuable and important, in terms of bringing different cultures together, binding people and giving voice to those who are considered as minority in their own countries, by providing them a free environment. During the time we spent in Ukraine as the first step of the projectbetween 8-19 September, we also had the chance to speak regarding certain problems we face in our country. We were totally excited once we heard that we will be visiting Ukraine. We didn’t know much about Ukraine, except for the things we learnt from history books and some daily emissions of certain TV channels. Me and most of my teammates never had an experience like this before, we were both enthusiastic and pensive regarding the project. Four groups including us participated in the project. Turkey, Italy located in south Europe, Poland and EU nominee Ukraine. Each country had 8 participants including team leaders and each team was formed balanced in terms of gender. Project was very interesting to us because of its subject. How democracy should be in a country, how could it be possible to build a more pluralist democracy and can this newly built structure function in terms of practicality? These questions were very interesting to us since the country we live in has democracy issues. Once we got to Ukraine, we had a very warm welcome. Afterwards, we headed over to the Novi Sanzhary region, a camping site where a school facility dated back to Soviet period is located in, in order to spend upcomingeight days. Throughout the project we had lots of activities focusing on how to build solidarity networks, discussing democracy problems and possible solutions and sharing democracy violations we encounter in our countries. The presence of our Ukranian friends and BUR organization who had experienced Ukranian revolution provided us a more realistic perspective through our discussions. The most common subject among our Italian friends whilst sharing the problems in their country was gangsterism (activities of the mafia) on a local scale. The organization Acmos which they have founded and participated in managed to take over some places belonging to the mafia, which were eventually turned into areas where they provide sheltering, education, social adaption to the homeless or refugees. Each participant from different countries shared their own problem. Poland for example, shared the problems faced by LGBT members in their country, Ukranian participants on the other hand, who are host of the project at the same time shared about Orange Revolution which took place in 2004 and how they are struggling to To have the idea of democracy settled in their local. As Kurdish participants from Turkey, we shared the democracy problems we face in our country, especially the injustice that’s been going on towards Kurdish people and other minority identities. We tried to explain our wish for a structure which is pluralist, locally governed and egalitarian, which are the obligatory bullet points of democracy. We also emphasized on violation of Human rights and inequality to reach fundamental rights and native language . we were happy to being a part of process of developing democracy in Europe . We know sharing our experience will be effective for process of democratization of countries As participation of Turkey we compare our problem and Ukrainian experiences . We focused on How They solved their problems and we didn't hesitate to share ours when we needed to Because the most important thing is criticize the undemocratic practices and management approaches . When it be necessity courage to oppose these problems and support them with inspiration from each other . We have experienced a lot during our eleven days in Ukraine, we shared the food, the water, the air we breathe in. We have built strong and amazing friendships, friends from different countries who knows how we feel, whom we can share our thoughts and worries. We spent the first eight days at the camping site which was in touch with nature; sharing our cultural experiences, melodies, dances and stories In the last tree days , we experienced the results of the last political conflict of Ukraine in Kiev, the capital and the relation between the place and the memory there. We had the chance to learn about the details of the Orange Revolution, one of the most important political action in the history of Ukraine, through some newspaper articles and photos we saw in Independence Square , where the people were united against the military coup. Whole revolution and brutality were photographed, written and registered in the hopes of not occurring ever again. The documents were hung up everywhere like reminders, for the people to always remember. On the last day, participants shared their overall impressions and feelings about their camping process. In the end of the project, the most important thing we noticed is that how all participants became familiar and empathetic with their fellow friend’s problems. All those people had ideals now which they find suitable for their country in terms of a better democracy. Most of us returned to the country with their first erasmus project experience. Of course, the project was not finished yet. The second step would be in Italy, and one of the important steps was that we had to prepare a video presentation on democracy in our country. At the same time we as a group started to face a visa process that was going to be the most challenging visa process among all four countries. The second step would be a few months later, but during this process, our agenda was to talk and think about the achievements of this project and also to feel the important sense of responsibility for a crucial project like this. As a group of young people, we have created an area where we can easily express everything we think about ourselves, our country, democracy. At the same time, we supported the Ukrainian youth who try to built the democracy of their own countries starting from local. In our video presentation we have identified a few names to talk about democracy and also to talk about human right violations that occur in a state of de-democratization. We did interviews with these people about the state of democracy in Turkey and we prepared the interviews for the presentation. Then we started the preparations for the visa process, which was the most worrying part for us. Documents related to the project started to come from the European Union office and we gathered these documents one by one and added them to our files for visa application. We completed our visa applications after completing all our documents about where we will stay during the project, about the details of the project, the documenst explained that the costs will be covered by the European Union, and also that we have joined in the first leg of the project in Ukraine. While waiting for our visa results with enthusiasm, we started to getting excited to take part in the second step that will take place in Italy. In this process, we were doing the work sharing about the presentations that we would make for the second step and discussing the issues we wanted to talk about. We were also worried because our visas were very likely to be rejected. Although it was a European Union project and we were invited by the European Union, our chances of rejection were very high for political and cyclical reasons. It finally happened in the way that we expected, and the European Union, which is the organization that sent us the documents to join the project, informed us that our documents weren't adequate while everything related to the project was obvious and as a result we were informed that it wasn't possible for us to join the second step of the project. We, the young people, have been deprived of a project where we can express ourselves and the systemic problems we face and gain experience. It can be said that this rejection process was in a sense traumatic for us. Our efforts and many experiences were left unfinished. We were all sad because we had an opportunity to make our voices heard and to learn about togetherness, sharing and living together with different cultures. We were aware that this decision was related to our birth in this geography and the perceptions of those who made this decision about our geography. They were punishing us on behalf of the problems of the geography that we live in, but in fact, what we wanted to do by participating in this project was to look for solutions to solve these problems. One of the things that those seeking a visa when stepping from one land to another is the fact that this decision has made their problems bigger than they are, and at the same time, this discriminatory decision is an unfair wholesale punishment. While trying to overcome the shock of this situation, with the support of our friends from other countries, we were in constant communication in order to create an area where we can explain what we want to say. We could not be there, but our friends who took part in the first step of the project with us would present the presentations we prepared to represent us and they would talk about our problems, feelings. After all, this was the result of interaction and action in Ukraine, and this made us proud. The Italian step of the project started when we were not there, and our friends were constantly in contact with us. They were communicating to us instantly the developments there and the speeches they made for us. Despite the distances, we were able to make our voice heard and we had a small contribution in the construction of a new understanding of democracy. As Kurds, as we have always encountered in this country, while we were ignored, we tried to express ourselves by not leaving the struggle and we succeeded. Although we could not participate in the second step, we gained valuable friendships and experiences with this project; we have learned to approach different problems from different perspectives. And perhaps most importantly, we have seen that we can overcome the difficulties step by step by acting together and sharing. Nevertheless, we would like to thank the European Union, ACMOS ,ÇEVKA and BUR, who have given us a space for expression in this project, and we look forward to being together in new projects.