Min Dit: The Children of Diyarbakir (Before Your Eyes) (2009)
Director: Miraz Bezar.
Starring: Senay Orak (Gülîstan), Muhammed Al (Firat), Hakan Karsak (Nuri Kaya), Suzan Ilir (Zelal), Berîvan Ayaz (Dilan 'Dilara'), Fahriye Çelik (Mother), Alisan Önlü (Father), Berîvan Eminoglu (Aunt Yakbun), Mehmet Inci (Mîkaîl), Çekdar Korkusuz (Çekdar), Recep Özer (Bindest).
Kurds in Turkey are killed by Turkish paramilitary groups
In Turkey a man sells packs of cigarettes one at a time. A little girl named Gulistan is with her mother, baby sister and young brother Firat. Gulistan watches the people on the street as their bus goes by. They don't look so different from the people on the street, but they are different. They are Turkish Kurds. [According to Wikipedia, the 40 million Kurds are a Middle East ethnic group mostly inhabiting a contiguous area spanning adjacent parts of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), western Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), and northern Syria (Western Kurdistan). They are culturally and linguistically closely related to the Iranian peoples. The Kurdish languages form a subgroup of the Northwestern Iranian languages. There are Kurdish diaspora communities in the cities of western Turkey, in particular Istanbul. The far southeastern part of Turkey is dominated by the Kurds or have a relative majority of Kurds. Fights between Turkey and its Kurdish people have been going on for decades. Between 1983 and 1993 some 37,000 people were killed in the ethnic conflict in Turkey. "However, some political violence is still ongoing and the Turkish-Iraqi border region remains tense."]
The Kurdish family goes to the market. They buy quite a few groceries and Firat especially has a heavy load. So they set their groceries down to rest. Mom tells Gulistan to watch her brother, while mom and baby will be shopping in another store. Brother and sister sit down to wait for mother. Gulistan watches a blind vendor trying to sell some vegetable. A man wants change from the blind man, who calls out to his granddaughter Zelal for some help. The granddaughter is not around so the man puts the vegetables back, takes his money back and leaves. Gulistan feels compassion for the man and asks who is he calling for The blind man says he's calling for his granddaughter. Gulistan looks around for Zelal but has to tell grandfather that she's not around here. So, Gulistan tells Firat to stay put, while she goes to look for Zelal.
Gulistan finds a girl looking through some garbage for food. The girl sees Gulistan staring at her and she tells Gulistan to go away. Gulistan just stands there so the girl picks up a stone to throw at her, but she holds back on her throw. Gulistan asks if her name is Zelal, and Zelal says yeah, so what? The staring girl now says that her grandfather needs her. The two girls walk back to grandfather. Gulistan's mother is not happy with her for walking away and she scolds her.
Gulistan and Firat's aunt comes around the corner to greet the children. They will eat a little something in an outdoor restaurant. Auntie has brought baby Dilovan a little present to play with. Mother says that they don't see much of auntie these days. She adds that she hopes that her sister is being careful. The aunt, Yekbun, tells her sister not to be afraid for they won't catch her. Sister warns her again: Don't put your life in danger.
At this time Gulistan's father is being driven around the town in a car by a male friend. He asks the driver if Salih is coming? No, is the answer because the police arrested him yesterday at a demonstration. Dad says there aren't many police stations that the poor guy hasn't been in.
Dad works as a photographer. He has photos of people killed in Xane. He asks a female worker to send the photos to Istanbul for tomorrow's edition. Then dad sits down at a computer and writes a report. "Four People Killed in Xane. 'No Suspects' Again!"
Mother has made a cassette of her reading stories for children. This way she can just put on a cassette and the kids will just go to sleep. Dad comes home late. Mom wakes up and comes to talk to him. He says that his friend Sehmus will lend the family his car for Saturday. The whole family can go for a day trip. Mom says that Yekbun is helping to hide a boy from their village so the police won't arrest him.
The next day father goes to pick up Yekbun and the boy. The guy's name is Memo. Dad introduces himself as Vedat. The young man stays with the family. The fellow helps Firat with his homework. Tomorrow, the family is going to a wedding and mother just finished making Gulistan's dress for the wedding. Gulistan is very pleased with the dress. She hugs her mother and thanks her.
Dad stops in the street and asks a man for a light. The man and his buddy take an interest in the stranger and look at each other after dad walks away. The kids come home and see auntie and their guest leaving with dad in the car.
On Saturday the family attends a wedding. Everyone has a lot of fun.
Along the road, three men are waiting in a car. One of the men we saw before when Vedat asked for a light for his cigarette and the two men took an interest in the man. A message comes into the car: "They just drove by. We'll block the road for you." A car is used to block the highway. The three men come over to father's car. The man who gave Vedat a light for his cigarette looks directly at the two children in the back seats. This man tells Vedat that one of his car lights is bad and his tire pressure is low in one of his tires. The man says that Vedat can't drive the car this way. Vedat gets out of the car to look and the man shoots him in the back of the head. He then shoots the mother in the head. Now the three men quickly jump back into their car and speed away.
The baby girl starts crying. The kids in the back are in shock.
A neighbor gets a knock on her door. It's Gulistan with her baby sister saying: "Mrs. Songul, Dilovan's refusing her milk." The woman invites Gulistan in and shows her how to feed the milk to the baby.
A man gives Yekbun an address of the place where she will stay in Istanbul. Then he has the address in Sweden. And, finally, he gives her a travel ticket. She protests that there is only one ticket in here, when she wanted three. She needs two more for her niece and nephew. The man says that's all they gave him.
Yekbun brings some dinner home for the children. The next morning Yekbun is leaving to try to get tickets for the children so they all can visit grandfather in Stockholm, Sweden.. She leaves Gulistan with a bit of money to last for three or four days. If she runs into an emergency she is to go to this address and Aziz will help her. Yekbun leaves.
Gulistan goes to the store and buys groceries. Unfortunately, their good neighbors are leaving to live and work in Istanbul. She gives Gulistan some baby clothes for her sister. Meanwhile, the food is giving out. Gulistan goes to visit Aziz looking for help. Aziz's sister is there and she says she hasn't seen Aziz for a long time. She then tells Gulistan that if she sees Yekbun, tell her to stay away because the police raid them every day. Now she tells Gulistan to run along.
Gulistan starts selling the few things they own in order to get money for food. Meanwhile, the landlord keeps reminding Gulistan that she hasn't paid the rent in three months. His wife scolds her husband for badgering the children.
Gulistan now sells the last of their possessions. The baby is not doing well and Gulistan doesn't know what to do. She tries her best to calm her down, but she can't. Firat runs to a pharmacy to get medicine for the baby, but he doesn't have enough money to pay for the medicine. He has to return empty handed.
The electricity is turned off in the apartment of the children. Over the night, baby Dilovan dies. In the morning Firat awakens to his sister crying. Then he see that the baby's dead.
The baby is buried. And now the children have to walk the streets. They sleep outside in a real dumpy place that smells.
In the morning the kids gets something to eat and then go to the park to eat it. A woman sits down on the bench where the kids are. She says she will pay the two kids if they will go around and put her advertisements of herself under the windshield wipers of the parked cars in the area. She gives the cards to the kids and they take them and place them on the windshields. The card says her name is Dilara and she asks if you are looking for a friend. Call me at this number: . . . .
When the children finish they look for Dilara. She is no where in sight. So the kids look for food in garbage bags. One day they run into Zelal. She takes the kids to her grandfather and brother Mikail in the park. Mikail shows up pushing a cart filled with various things to sell. He just recently bought a microphone and speakers. He records his sales pitch and keesp replaying it for prospective buyers. Zelal tells her brother to take grandfather home. He goes to get grandpa. Now Zelal gives lighters to Firat and kleenex to Gulistan to sell. She tells them both: "Listen, no matter what they say, don't let them go. Stick to them! If they won't buy, put it in their pockets or bags. They'll buy in the end."
The kids try to sell, but at first at least they are not persistent enough. A man pulls over to the side of the park to ask Firat to buy a lighter. Firat recognizes the man as the one who killed his mother and father and indirectly his baby sister. The man doesn't recognize Firat, who just stands there staring at the man. The man gets tired of waiting for Firat. Zelal comes over and asks what's wrong? Firat pisses his pants.
The murderer goes home to his wife and son. He is good to his son, if not to the sons and daughters of those he kills.
The kids are with Zelal by the river bank. Gulistan is washing clothes. Zelal tells Firat to wash his legs in the river. She tells him not to be ashamed of pissing his pants because her brother has done that many times. She tells Gulistan that on the night the soldiers burned down their village, Mikail got very scared and still has terrible nightmares about the deaths of their parents.
Zelal takes the pair to see what used to be an Armenian church. Now the church is in ruins.
The murderer goes to work at a prison. He is an interrogator/torturer. Inside one room is Yekbun sitting in a chair with her hands bound behind her and with a blindfold around her eyes and head. The murderer comes in and his buddy/partner is there with him.
The murderer is back home now. He lives in an apartment with a nice balcony. We now learn his name is Nuri. He likes to watch people walking on the streets.
Selling tissues, Gulistan runs into Dilara. She tells Dilara: "You promised to wait. We distributed all your papers! You owe us money." She keeps pestering the lady, until Dilara tells her to meet her in the park in two hours. Gulistan follows Dilara to her home. She lives with her mother and two children.
Gulistan and Dilara meet in the park. Dilara pays her the money. Now they introduce themselves to each other. Dilara's real name is Dilan.
Firat is selling goods from the cart. Zelal introduces him to two young fellows on the street: Cekdar and Bindest. Cekdar wants her to sell his stolen goods, but Zelal won't take them. She says he will get her into trouble.
The kids and grandpa now sleep together on bedding in an alley. Sometimes they play the tape of a fairytale recorded by Gulistan's late mother.
Dilan takes Gulistan shopping for some new clothes. Firat joins with other street boys to engage in crime. For instance, they hang around ATM machines, get a person's pin number, steal the person's wallet and then immediately use the credit cards to withdraw money.
Dilan now has Gulistan stand with her as mother and daughter waiting on the streets for customers. She gets cell phone calls from her advertisements and then meets with her customer. She tries to pay Gulistan some money, but Gulistan won't take it. Dilan asks if she will stand with her again tomorrow, and Gulistan agrees to that.
The street boys that Firat is with are all Kurds. They sing a sad song about where is their Kurdistan homeland? The boys sing around a fire. Another boy comes running to warn the others that the police are coming. The boys put out the fire and go watch as a van pulls up and men from the van drop off dead bodies wrapped in blankets. After the van leaves, the boys go down to look at the bodies. Firat recognizes the face of the young man who helped him with his homework when auntie was hiding the man.
Dilan gets a customer and the customer turns out to be the murderer. He turns to say to someone, who are you looking at? Standing there staring at the murderer is Gulistan. Dilan goes with the customer, while Gulistan looks for Firat. Firat is with his group and they are going to go with a man whose going to take them to Istanbul to steal from the wealthier residents there. The man who will be the boss and driver is named Osman.
The murderer returns to Dilan for another date, but this time he wants to take Dilan to his house. Dilan says she never goes to a client's home. Gulistan sees her opening and says yes, they will go. Dilan says no, but the murderer says let the sister come with them so the neighbors won't be so suspicious. So off they go. On the way to the man's house, they travel on the open road where Gulistan's parents were murdered . In the apartment house Gulistan looks all around the apartment learning as much as she can about the man. She sees his photo of himself in a military uniform. She sees a plaque dedicated to Sgt.-Major Nuri Kaya for Outstanding Service, 1991-1995. Then she sees two pistols. She picks one up. When Dilara finishes and goes to the bathroom, Gulistan walks over to the man's bed and points the pistol toward his head.
Bach home, Gulistan saves a frog from being killed by the boys. (scenes of animal abuse) She stands right in front of the boys to stop Firat from taking his turn at hitting the frog with the sling-shot rock. Firat warns her that if she doesn't move, he's going to hit her. Gulistan takes the pistol out from a plastic bag and holds it before the boys. She says she found the murderer. Firat is so shocked that he releases the sling-shot and Gulistan is knocked down.
Nuri comes to see Dilan. He manhandles Dilan by the throat demanding to know from her where is his pistol? Dilan says she knows nothing about a gun. So, he asks her where is the little girl? Dilan says she hasn't seen her. He then threatens her that she better find that girl immediately or he is going to beat the crap out of Dilan.
Gulistan gives the pistol to Firat, who, in turn, hands it over to the older boy Cekdar. Later the little gang watchea as Nuri and his family return to the apartment.
Gulistan greets Dilan, who has a black eye from Nuri, at her doorway. They hug each other.
In the morning Nuri comes outside on his balcony. His son shows his father a flier that someone dropped off at the apartment. It has a photo of Nuri in his military uniform with writing that says Nurii Kaya is a member of the paramilitary force JITEM. [According to Wikipedia, JITEM stands for "Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism". It is the military wing of Ergenekon, an ostensible underground nationalist organization. It is also the controversial wing and intelligence agency of the Turkish Gendarmerie. It has been involved in the Kurdish-Turkish Conflict.]
The flier also says that Nuri Kaya is a murderer. And now Nuri is being shunned by the people of the neighborhood. He rushes outside and starts just grabbing the fliers out of the hands of people on the street. Then he sees a scrawl on the street saying in bright orange: "Murderer Nuri Kaya lives in this building!" Firat using his microphone to shout out: "Shock! Shock! Shock! Nuri Kaya is a member of the paramilitary force JITEM! Nuri Kaya lives on Emek Street, Sumbul House, 2nd Floor, Apartment 6! Nuri Kaya is a murderer responsible for the disappearance of many people. He is the killer of Vedat and Sevda Gun, assassinated on May 15 in Batman." He tells the people of Diyarbakir all about the man. The people just stand and stare with hostility in their eyes at Nuri.
Driver/Boss Osman fills his car with children going with him to Istanbul to steal. Firat and Gulistan get into the station wagon in the back. They wave goodbye to Zelal. In the car Gulistan gives a hungry girl some food to eat.
"To the children of Diyarbakir."
Spoiler warning: Good movie about ethnic hatred between the Turks and the minority Kurds. Gulistan and Firat's mother and father are killed simply because they are Kurds. This crime means dirty street poverty for Gulistan and Firat. And poverty means death for their baby sister Dilovan. The kids eventually adapt to life as street children. They are taken in by a generous little girl named Zelal who is there with her grandfather and brother. She teaches them to sell items to make money to survive. Overtime, the kids keep running into the main man who killed their parents. Gulistan and her brother, with the help of lots of street children, plot revenge on the murderer, a member of a nasty paramilitary group responsible for many deaths of innocent civilians (innocent, except for being Kurdish).
Senay Orak (as Gülîstan) is very cute and very good in her role.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
Return To Main Page
Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)