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INTERNATIONAL PEACE INITIATIVE (IPI)

Text of Video Message from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu ADDRESS TO THE PRESS CONFERENCE (3rd December 2012) FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE INTERNATIONAL PEACE INITIATIVE Greetings from Cape Town. It is a great pleasure to address you albeit from afar. My message to the leaders of the Turks and the Kurds is a very simple one: Peace is better than war. Peace is better than war for your brothers and your sisters, for yourselves and your children, for your country and for your region, and for the world we share. But making peace is much more difficult than waging war. Making peace requires of combatants with entrenched positions and prejudices and grudges to set aside their anger and disdain and admit that maybe, just possibly, there might be some validity to their adversaries political, cultural and social identities and positions. I feel deeply troubled by the violence that is once again spiralling out of control in Turkey between the Turks and the Kurds. The fact that thousands are languishing in prison for political offences some awaiting trial and others convicted and serving lengthy prison sentences is also deeply troubling. I have learnt with considerable gratitude that the more than 700 political detainees and prisoners in Turkey have gracefully responded to the call of Abdullah calan from prison that they should call off the hunger strike. They have been on hunger strike for more than 60 days. This, in my view, sets the tune for peaceful negotiations. I appeal to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan to grab the olive branch of peace which is held out by Abdullah calan. It is time to talk and to listen. In 2009, talks between the imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah calan, and Turkish authorities created hope for lasting peace. It reminded us of the first talks the apartheid Government had with the imprisoned Nelson Mandela which eventually led to our peaceful journey from apartheid to democracy! In September 2010, we welcomed the announcement that the Turkish Government was going to hold comprehensive official talks with calan. But our hopes were dashed, following general elections in Turkey in July 2011. The talks were summarily terminated violence escalated and many more Kurdish activists were detained. My appeal to Turks and Kurds is for an urgent cease-fire to take root as a necessary first step to formal negotiations, reconciliation and lasting peace. Peace is better than war. God bless you! Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu