"The Emperor himself had the uncomfortable feeling that what they were whispering was only too true. "But I will have to go through with the procession," he said to himself. So he drew himself up and walked boldly on, holding his head higher than before, and the courtiers held on to the train that wasn't there at all." ~ Hans Christian Anderson, The Emperor's New Clothes.
Things are really going to hell in Turkey. For the majority of Kurds (those who refuse to assimilate), Turkey has been hell for a long time, but the Turkish state seems intent on outdoing itself lately.
Bianet has the Turkey section of Amnesty International's 2006 report available. In general, AI seems to be in agreement that things are really going to hell in Turkey. After the events of the first half of this year, I predict AI's 2007 report is going to be a lot more intense. Give that report a read so that you can make your own comparison of how bad things have gotten.
Ever since the attack on the judges, the battle-cry has been "Secularism!" However, I am reminded of the story of The Emperor's New Clothes, because Turkey is anything but secular. Women are forbidden from wearing the headscarf in schools, state buildings and at state functions but, at the same time, religious education (Sunni Islam religious education) is a mandatory subject in the schools--even for those students who are not Sunni Muslims. Check out what the leader of Diyanet has to say about this, from The Washington Times:
"Every belief group is our partner," said Diyanet leader Ali Bardakoglu, who is responsible for maintaining Turkey's 80,000 mosques and monitoring their state-employed preachers.
But then he argues that Alevis are actually Sunni. "It's not that we are opposed to cemevis," he said, "but they are not an alternative to mosques. Alevis can have their semah [ritual dances], but they should fast, too."
The article refers to "Tunceli," which was the name the Kemalists forced on the city and region that are really known as Dersim, after the Turkish army slaughtered almost 40,000 of the locals. The position of the Diyanet is that Alevis are Sunni Muslims and, therefore, they are not a minority. A similar argument is used against Kurds: Kurds are Sunni Muslim, therefore they are not a minority. In both cases, for Alevis and for Kurds, this ideologically-based argument is the justification for the destruction of both cultures. It permits both to be forcibly assimilated, at least on the official level, even though in reality, both groups resist.
Turkey's answer for every problem is to apply force, to crush, to destroy, whatever it perceives as different, even while it loudly and belligerently proclaims, "Alevis are Sunnis," or "Mountain Turks live in the East," or "No woman can wear a headscarf at a state function." All of these statements can be summed up in one, simple statement that expresses the essence of the fascist ideology at work here: "Ne mutlu Turk'um diyene!" And in spite of the fact that this ideology, and all of the attitudes and actions that derive from it, has not worked for the past 83 years, this abject failure of a state is still touted as a model of "secular democracy" by a lot of people, many of whom really know better.
Yet we have opinon writers, like Gunduz Aktan at TDN, who tell us:
In the 83rd year of the Turkish Republic we are still grappling with crises due to the fact that we have not rendered the two founding principles of the republic as firmly entrenched. The recent statements made by the prime minister and the parliament speaker have made it all too obvious why exactly we cannot reach a national consensus on the principle of secularism. Meanwhile, our unitary structure is faced with a major threat in that the Democratic Society Party (DTP) has demanded a change in the structure of the republic with the support of terrorism that has begun anew in Turkey in parallel with the Kurdish independence movement in northern Iraq.
The fact is that the two founding principles--secularism and "unitary structure"--are lies. If the state were secular, why state control of religion? As for "unitary structure," it might have worked had the Ankara regime not resolved to slaughter or, failing that, deny the existence of the Kurdish people. This regime nullified all arguments of its right to rule over Kurds by its violent oppression; it is not legitimate.
To link the Southern Kurds with some so-called terrorism is a flimsy pretext to justify invasion of South Kurdistan. How quickly the Turks forget who has helped them in the South. The reality is that even if only one Kurd remained alive on the earth, anywhere on the earth, that one Kurd would be a threat to the "unitary structure" of the fascist Turkish state. Why? Because that one Kurd would stand as proof that "Ne mutlu Turk'um diyene" is a lie, and it doesn't matter how many mountains in North Kurdistan are defaced with this lie--it is still a lie. For another hint, check the title of this opinion article: Let us finish off this job. It sounds like a call for a final solution.
While Turkey's real problems such as underdevelopment, poverty and unemployment remain unsolved, we expend our intellectual energy -- of which we have a limited amount, anyway -- on these regime problems. Like gangrenous wounds, these problems prevent us from achieving economic development and consolidating the democratic system.
Underdevelopment, poverty and unemployment are most rampant in North Kurdistan and these are Ataturk's legacy to the people he wished to genocide. The reason for the intensity of these secondary problems among the Kurdish population under Turkish occupation is a result of Turkey's real problem: Fascism. Good, old-fashioned European fascism, because it is no secret that the ideological founders of the TC based their ideology on Mussolini's fascism. Turkey, as it exists today, is a dinosaur among nation-states. Until there is a constitution written by civilians who are knowledgeable in human rights, political science and democracy as it is actually practiced in real democracies, Turkey's real problem will remain, along with the attendant secondary problems.
If there is any doubt about the fascist nature of the Turkish state and the excellence of the system that perpetuates fascism, let's take an example from last week. On the day of the judge's funeral in Ankara the following was reported by the Associated Press, carried on the Washington Post:
"This is the Sept. 11 of the Turkish Republic," wrote Ertugrul Ozkok, chief columnist of Turkey's leading newspaper Hurriyet on Thursday.
How can a columnist write something like this, comparing the murder of one person and the shooting of four others, to the murder of some 3,000? From the same ideology which has as a slogan, "Bir Turk dunyaya bedeldir" (One Turk is worth all the world). He should have called it their Helebce; it would have been far more dramatic.
Let's not overlook this lie: "[U]nder Atatürk's leadership the groups created by these reforms fought and won a war of life-and-death and founded the Turkish Republic," because the fact is that Kurds also fought in that foundational war and the moment it was over, the Turkish army was deployed against the Kurds. Dersim itself is a prime example of that. Turkish injustice was not satisfied until everyone, even those who had no part whatsoever in the rebellion, was dead. The TC was established on the blood and bones of the innocent, something no doubt inherited from the Ottomans with their genocide of Armenians.
Aktan claims that "The young republic adopted a rhetoric of endless self-praise." Indeed it did, but not for the reason Aktan gives. The TC immediately began with "endless self-praise," a fancy phrase for what is referred to in real democracies as propaganda. The TC had to impose its ideology on the people, make it part of the education system, reinforce it at every turn and by every means, so that what we have today in the TC is a population, the vast majority of which is brainwashed. The modern Turkish media is part of the system, and it reinforces the brainwashing that officially began in kindergarten.
If, as Aktan states, the Turkish state "made great progress on the path of nation-building, state-building and economic development," and if the "drive continued after the country adopted a democratic system," then why does Aktan state that Turkey's real problems are "underdevelopment, poverty and unemployment?" If there is a democratic system, then why is AI documenting a slide backwards in freedom of expression, fair trials, impunity, torture, and human rights protections? If the Turkish state has made such great strides, why does it have a constitution that was written by generals in order to protect the state from the citizens. In a real democracy, constitutions, and the laws derived therefrom, exist to guarantee and protect the rights of the citizens from the state.
The fact of the total insufficiency of the Turkish constitution and all, lesser laws, Aktan's two recommendations for solving Turkey's problems are totally inadequate. In a democracy, no one and no political party is closed down for violating principles. In fascist states, yes, political parties can, and are, closed down for violating "principles," but real democracy is strong enough to bear any "violation" or challenge of its principles. The second recommendation is derived from the first, and so is its insufficiency, because if the foundational law is flawed, so is everything that derives from it.
Lest anyone think I am picking too much on Turkey, here's a little reminder: The entire international community has aided and abetted Turkey in its brutality. It has armed Turkey and has stood by silently as Turkey attempted to destroy the Kurdish people, severely persecuted religious minorities, and invaded and occupied other, sovereign nations. The entire international community continues to remain silent on these atrocities, while continuing to perpetuate the myth of a "secular democracy," or a "moderate Islamic state." The entire international community continues to coddle Turkey's fascist belligerence as it renews its dirty war against the Kurdish people (a type of warfare the entire international community was all too eager to train Turkish security forces in), and threatens invasion of South Kurdistan.
By the way, Kurds are not leaving Kurdistan. If anyone doesn't love Kurdistan, let them leave it.