A LESSON IN KURDISH REALITIES
"We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality."
~ Ayn Rand
~ Ayn Rand
The New Anatolian has a great interview with two Kurdish politicians, Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk, of the Democratic Society Party (DTP). What is particularly interesting is that this interview is a confirmation of things I have thought and said, sor quite some time about the role of PKK as part of the greater Kurdish national movement.
The entire interview can be read here, but I will snip some pieces of it to show what I consider to be crucial to any consideration of PKK.
Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk, co-chairs of the new Democratic Society Party (DTP), said even though their party doesn't have any organic ties with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) or Abdullah Ocalan, they have common stands, and in Turkey the Kurdish issue can't be solved if the reality of Ocalan and the PKK is ignored. [. . . . ]
Tugluk, Ocalan's former lawyer, defended herself like so: Now I have a different responsibility, dealing with politics, so this can't be connected to my old activities. But Ocalan is a reality in Turkey. Some think that he's a hero, others that he's a terrorist.
It is true that Ocalan and PKK are realities for the Kurdish situation in the North. PKK will forever have an influence on that situation because it was PKK that politicized the Kurds under Turkish-occupation, reminded Kurds who they were and showed them that resistance to brutality was possible. PKK taught the people to find their voice. Ocalan himself has become the symbol of that politicization and resistance, not only for many Kurds in the North but for many in diaspora as well. Like it or not, approve of it or not, this is the reality of the situation, and everyone has been affected by it to one degree or another.
In connection with the absurdity, and hypocrisy, of "sub-identities," which Erdogan spoke of at Şemzîn (Şemdinli):
The prime minister sometimes makes talks like he did in Diyarbakir this summer: The state has been at fault on the issue, the Kurdish problem is my problem. There's a primary identity but there's also a sub identity.' Then all of a sudden it's so sad that we see a different prime minister who speaks differently on the way to Australia. He says, There's no Kurdish issue, in fact the issue is terror,' and he tries to make Islam out as the primary identity. So how will excuse yourself to minorities, then? So at this point we're really having a hard time understanding how our premier came to that point.
Ahmet Turk also points out the reality of the rejection of the Kurdish identity in the past, the politicization of the Kurdish people and their determination to seek their rights, and that these rights are still denied to the people today.
The interview continues with a discussion of the Turkish constitution. It has been my argument that the Turkish constitution needs to be scrapped and a new one written because the writing of this document was supervised by the military, it serves to officially enshrine and protect Kemalism, and with the changes required to bring it into line with Copenhagen Criteria are so vast that it is ridiculous to try to save this document. Since EU accession is a goal, it would be simpler and more effective to write a new constitution with a truly democratic spirit.
Here are some of Aysel Tugluk's comments on the constitution:
If there's an article in the Constitution saying that all the citizens who have a relation of citizenship to the government are Turks, this doesn't allow other identities to be freely expressed. This is antidemocratic and so the other parts of society can't see themselves in such a Constitution. In fact this Constitution is very much outdated and it doesn't fit the needs of today's society. This Constitution must be changed. Kurds have to see themselves as a part of this state in that Constitution. As an identity, as a cultural society they must be accepted by the Constitution.
Ahmet Turk answers the questions about the 10% threshold for elections and, again, I think the explanations he gives are truly accurate, especially in his descriptions of the various pressures brought to bear on Kurds who vote. The old cliché of "divide and conquer" should come to mind in reading this portion of the interview, nullifying any idea of free and democratic elections in Turkey for the Kurdish people. It should also come as no surprise to anyone that the major Turkish parties support the threshold because it is, in fact, a barrier serving to keep Kurds out of the Turkish parliament. Of course, if Kurds do manage to make it into Parliament they cannot be effective in working for Kurds because the threat of what happened to Leyla Zana and her colleagues is always a Turkish version of the sword of Damocles.
Both Turk and Tugluk comment on the missed opportunity in the period after Ocalan's capture. During that time, from 1999 until last year, the Turkish government did nothing to restore the situation in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan to anything that might resemble "normal" anywhere else. It was the perfect opportunity for the Ankara regime to prove its sincerity in solving the Kurdish problem it created, but it failed. And it is still failing. It is also hypocrisy for Ankara to blame the situation on PKK. As Ahmet Turk states:
If there wasn't a Kurdish issue today, maybe the PKK wouldn't exist, not even our party would exist. We're a democratically established party. But in fact we have a mission to solve the issue. So in accordance with the same problem the PKK also gives the same messages. The same truth is expressed by two different bodies and they say that we have organic links, but it's not true. We don't have organic ties but we have a common stance and common demands and there's a Kurdish issue that we're both trying to solve.
But the PKK has been around for years, and they chose to seek a solution by arms. So it's an existing reality. Without seeing this, acting as if there isn't such a movement, where do we go? In fact, we must be more realistic. But once we declare the truth now, we become anathema.
Aysel Tugluk's comments on the subject:
One part of society believes that he's [Ocalan's] a hero, the other part calls him a terrorist. So there's a controversy. In my opinion he's a reality, having political, social and emotional dimensions. I remember British Prime Minister Tony Blair once saying, "I can't reject the feelings of some citizens who sympathize with the IRA." So this reality must be evaluated in the right way. Instead of deepening the separation we have to try and find a compromise. You can't develop any solutions without seeing this reality. On TV I once saw a Kurd say, Even if you get rid of the PKK, what will you do to their sisters, brothers and parents? A new group will take its place.' I believe that the PKK or Ocalan aren't the reasons but the results. And the results stem from reasons.
Indeed, PKK and Ocalan are the results and the realities and there is no way to erase them from the political life of North Kurdistan. Their influence will be there for a very long time to come. Mention is made of the Armenian conference this past summer, and the recognition of what happened to the Armenians is closely tied, I believe, to the present Kurdish situation. If Turkey can come to terms with the genocide of the Armenians at the beginning of the last century, it is on its way to coming to terms with the present Kurdish situation at the beginning of this century.
In the meantime, Turkey is begging the CIA for intelligence information to continue its fight against PKK. Of course, it will be impossible for either to wipe away all remnants of PKK because it will be impossible for either to de-politicize the Kurdish people. The genie has been out of the bottle for a long time.
By the way, there's another NEWSFLASH from The New Anatolian. Apparently, the PKK is no longer the most serious threat to Turkish society's unity and peace. . . the most serious threat is the fact that 16,000 mosques in Turkey do not have imams! I kid you not, check it out, from those fun guys at the Religious Affairs Directorate:
'16,000 mosques don't have imams. This is the most serious threat'
Maybe Erdogan can get the CIA to investigate and then share intelligence over this very serious threat.