Thursday, June 24, 1999 Published at 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Hatred for Ocalan runs high
Emotions are high in the city of Erzurum
By Chris Morris in Erzurum
Strong emotions have been provoked by the trial of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish PKK rebel movement.
It is a sentiment that helped the ultra-nationalist party, the MHP, to make huge gains in April's general elections.
"People in Erzurum are very traditional,'' said the party's provincial chairman, Mustafa Cinar. "Our bond with the Turkish state makes us hate Abdullah Ocalan. It's a natural emotion."
Angry families seek revenge
Imam Bey has lost two of his children and he holds Abdullah Ocalan personally responsible. His son Bilgin was killed by the PKK in 1996, while on military service, and a second son committed suicide after his brother's death.
More than 400 young men from Erzurum have been lost to the PKK. Their angry families want revenge. Conciliation is not on their agenda.
Imam Yasayan says their pain cannot just be forgotten. "If I could catch Ocalan myself, I would take his blood. I'd kill him, and then I'd end my own life," he added.
Nationalist sentiments prevail
In Erzurum and elsewhere national pride is at stake. Nationalist sentiment has been whipped up and channelled into hatred of one man.
Some said they wanted to tear Ocalan apart and hang his lawyers as well. They insisted there was no Kurdish problem - it was just a foreign plot.
A song paid emotional homage to military martyrs, indicative of the strength of feeling about the Ocalan case in a conservative city like Erzurum.
Emotions are just as strong a hundred miles across the mountains, in the mainly Kurdish south-east of the country. But they are on the other side of the divide.
That is the dilemma Turkey is faced with. When the Ocalan trial is over, the country will wake up the next morning to find the problem has not gone away.