"Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it."
~ Lily Tomlin.
~ Lily Tomlin.
Here's hypocrisy for you. Compare:
A crowd of 16,000 expatriate Turks cheered Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a vast indoor auditorium in Germany on Sunday as he told them to resist assimilation into the West. The political rally by Germany's biggest ethnic minority upset German politicians, who objected to a major public event on German soil being advertised on posters in Turkish only.
Erdogan indirectly addressed those concerns, saying it was right for Turkish immigrants to learn German and other languages so they could integrate, but wrong to abandon their Turkish heritage and assimilate.
"Assimilation is a crime against humanity," he told the crowd. Many Turks had travelled from France, Belgium and the Netherlands to hear his hour-long address in the shiny venue, the Koelnarena.
Turkish policy towards the Kurds was for many years determined by the 1924 constitution, which refused to acknowledge the possibility of any ethnic identity other than that of the Turks. The only exception to this rule was in the case of non-Muslims.
[ . . . ]
According to the constitution, those Turkish citizens who were not Turks in ethnic terms were to be assimilated. It was under this principle that the Republic carried out its policy towards the Kurds.
The Kurdish revolts which were repeatedly directed against this policy were put down in short order, and the policy of "Turkification" functioned almost perfectly until the 1970s.
[ . . . ]
But a new Kurdish opposition, which fundamentally opposed the government's policy on the Kurds, arose in the early seventies. This opposition, led largely by doctors, lawyers and students who had studied in Western Turkey, was characterised by a left-wing rhetoric.
The military putsch of 1980 saw the movement, which was increasingly finding support among the poor Kurdish farmers, thoroughly destroyed.
In the following years, the government pushed its policy of assimilation more energetically by means of military repression. In spite of the transition to a civilian government in 1983, the state of emergency in the areas where the Kurds lived remained in place.
The most public result of this policy of repression was the clear domination of the Kurdish opposition by those who supported a military line. The PKK, which wanted to win an independent Kurdistan using a strategy of guerilla warfare, emerged as almost the only important Kurdish organisation after 1980.
An important development in the world of journalism that Can Dundar and Ridvan Akar witnessed to shows how the military coup in 1960 was a rejection of the Kurds and the Kurdish question.
The Cabinet of the military coup prepared a report that became an important letter of decisions and signed by a colonel, were sent to the coalition of AP-CHP under the chairman of Ismet Inonu.
[ . . . ]
The leaders of the military coup put the report into the archives and now 47 years later the report is being revealed.
The report rejects the Kurds and the Kurdish question. But in reality the report reveals the Kurdish question and the Kurds in Turkey. The report seeks to achieve assimilation. The report wants the Kurds to be forcedly cut off from relations with all their roots and their language and this way their identity shall be annihilated.
It is very obvious that the politics of assimilation that have been the main politics of the state. From the leaders of the military coup of 27 May.
Another important aspect of the report is that the Kurds shall be forced by the state to leave their homes in the Southeast and it continues as follows:
''In the region Turks shall be placed in order to 'make those who believe that they are Kurds' into Turks and Turks from the Black Sea shall be replaced in the region so that Kurds shall be convinced to leave for places that are economically better and through this way more Turks will be placed everywhere.''
In Turkey, the Kurds contributed to the War of Independence (1919-23), but in the immediate post-1923 period Kemal Atatürk rejected the Kurds’ demands for autonomy, severely crushed Kurdish revolts in the 1920s and 1930s and pursued a strategy aimed at their assimilation into the Turkish nation, using both education and military force. For decades, Turkey, whose Kurds make up to 20 percent of the country’s population, simply denied that they existed — they were “mountain Turks” — and systematically tried to destroy their Kurdishness (Kurdayetî in Kurdish, Kürtçuluk in Turkish); the Kurdish language and open expressions of Kurdish culture were forbidden. More than 50 years after his death, Atatürk’s stamp on the basic character of the state continues to cast a long shadow that few dare to challenge openly.
So, who is guilty of crimes against humanity, Tayyip?
"I can well understand that you are against assimilation," he said. "It is important to learn German, but your Turkish language should not be neglected."
Contrast, from Amir Hassanpour:
The policy of Republican Turkey since its establishment in 1923, is a typical case of what has been called "linguicide" or "linguistic genocide" (cf. below). Replacing the loosely integrated Ottoman state, Republican Turkey was established as a highly centralized, secular and westernized nation-state based on Turkish ethnic identity. The practice of centralization and Turkification led to a number of Kurdish revolts (in 1925, 1927-31, 1930-38) which were severly repressed (cf. Jwaideh 1960:593-640).
Policy on the Kurdish language was based on a more general and long-term aim of changing the ethnic composition of the Kurds, who formed the most numerous and densely populated non-Turkish people in the country. To achieve this end, the Turkish government deported hundreds of thousands of people from Kurdistan to Turkish-inhabited regions of the country, conducted mass executions after each revolt, the resettled Turkish immigrants from Europe in the Kurdish areas in the 1920s-1940s (documentation is available in Rambout 1947; Kenda 1980a:58-68; Bedr Khan 1928). By the late 1930s, all the Kurdish provinces were effectively controlled by the military who, established a police post in every village of some size (van Bruinessen 1984:8).
Forcing the Kurds to abondon their language and become native speakers of Turkish is the primary goal of the language policy. Various methods have been used in the past seven decades to eliminate the Kurdish language.
[ . . . ]
The all-round attempt to eliminate the Kurdish people and their language has partly succeeded in thinning out the once densely populated Kurdistan, in Turkifying large numbers of Kurds, and bringing Kurdish national culture (oral and written literature, music, and dress) to the verge of extinction. The harsh methods of repression have made it difficult for the Kurds to reveal their ethnic identity. A Western student of "political elites," for example, found out that few Kurdish deputies "professed (or acknowledges) an ability to speak Kurdish" (Frey 1965:109). Similarly, a Kurdish official involved in taking the 1965 census observed that many Kurds who were not familiar with Turkish preferred to declare themselves as Turkish speakers to avoid trouble (Kendal 1980a:48).
[ . . . ]
Although the Kurdish language in Turkey is not dead yet, prospects for its extinction do exist. "Language death" has happened and is happenning in all parts of the world (Dorian 1981:1-2) largely due to non-linguistic reasons (Adler 1977:2). In Turkey, the Armenian people and their language were eliminated largely through physical extinction planned by the Ottoman and Republican regimes.(15) Similar methods have been applied to the much larger Kurdish population and, if regional amd international conditions permit, the Armenian experience may be repeated. (16) President Özal's policy on lifting the ban on spoken Kurdish in January 1991 does not indicate a change in the ideology and politics of the Turkish state. This policy is tactical and is part of the desperate efforts to save the Ataturkist state in the face of a serious economic, political, cultural and ideological crisis. (17)
Another contrast, from Mehmed Uzun:
Uzun was the author of about a dozen novels in Kurdish and Turkish, including "In the Shadow of a Lost Love," and was considered one of the leading pioneers of modern Kurdish literature.
He fled to Sweden in 1977 after serving a brief prison term on Kurdish separatism charges for his writings in the magazine Rizgazi, of which he was a managing editor.
In 2000, Uzun was again prosecuted for instigating separatism for a speech he made in Diyarbakir, in which he slammed Turkey's ban on the Kurdish language and called for Kurds to be educated in Kurdish. He was not present for the hearings, but through his lawyer submitted written testimony. Uzun was acquitted.
"Turkish should remain as the official language, but Kurds should be educated in Kurdish in their own regions," Uzun had said in his speech.
Speaking Kurdish was forbidden until 1990. Turkey continued to ban the use of the Kurdish language in schools, official settings and broadcasts other than music until 2002, when — under pressure from the European Union — it allowed a limited amount of Kurdish programs on state-owned radio and television. It still refuses to allow Kurdish education in schools, saying it would divide the country.
[ . . . ]
He recalled how he was punished on his first day at school for speaking Kurdish.
"I was slapped because I spoke Kurdish — I couldn't even speak Turkish!" he told Milliyet.
Yet another contrast, from Osman Baydemir:
The beginning of talks with the EU in 1999 led to the improvement of conditions for the Kurds in Turkey. Prior to that, Kurdish people were forbidden to name their children Kurdish names, but now this has changed. Also, the Kurdish language which is not officially recognized was dealt with differently on an official level; today Turkish television broadcasts 45 minutes in the Kurdish language.
Although we consider these to be major developments, we also consider 45 minutes to be too short. Over the span of 80 years, the Turkish state used to tell us that there was no such thing as ‘Kurd’ or ‘Kurdish’. You are the mountain Turks, meaning that you live in the mountains. The state used to consider us backward Turks. At last they have recognized us as Kurds (laughs), which is a considerable improvement for us.
However; the problem is that despite some modifications, the authority’s manner in dealing with and resolving the Kurdish issue has not radically changed. In fact, starting from October 2005, the Turkish state began to retract these small steps that it had taken towards reform and the military confrontation flared up once again and the killing resumed.
Furthermore, the cultural rights of the Kurdish people have diminished. The situation in 2002 and 2003 was far better than the current situation. For example, Abdullah Demirbas, the former mayor of the Sur district in Diyarbakir who was dismissed from office, as were all the members of the municipal council [which was dissolved], who all suffered the same fate because they had offered some municipal services in other languages, Kurdish and English along with the Turkish language.
Another example is the fact that there are 30 lawsuits filed against me, all of which are related to use of the Kurdish language. On the Kurdish New Year, or Nowruz [celebrated 21 March] we used to send out greeting cards. I wrote in the greeting cards “Happy New Year” in Turkish, Kurdish and English and I sent them to the president, prime minister, the MPs and the heads of courts in Diyarbakir.
[ . . . ]
The truth is that the human mind cannot accept such practices. In the 21st century, there exists a language that is spoken by 20 million people, which is the Kurdish language, and it is prohibited. There are dozens of similar examples pertaining to the letter ‘w’.
He [Erdoğan] said ethnic Turks abroad should be more confident in standing up for their interests, and should win election as mayors and members of European national parliaments.
Contrast, from the last election:
With parliamentary elections approaching later this year, Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish political party is finding itself at a crossroads, beset by increasing pressure from both within and without.
In recent weeks, the Democratic Society Party (DTP) has endured a crackdown, with dozens of its top leaders arrested or jailed and several of its offices raided by the police. An Ankara court in February sentenced party co-chairs Aysel Tugluk and Ahmet Turk to 1 1/2 years in prison after DTP workers distributed political pamphlets in the Kurdish language, violating Turkish law. Soon after, Turk was sentenced by another court to an additional six months for "praising" Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the guerrilla Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), by referring to him in a speech as "sayin Ocalan," the equivalent of "Mr. Ocalan" in Turkish. Tugluk and Turk are free pending an appeal.
Local DTP have also been caught up in the crackdown. For example, Metin Tekce, the DTP mayor of the city of Hakkari in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, was sentenced by a court on March 19 to seven years in jail after he said in a press conference that the PKK was not a terrorist group and that he was proud to be Kurdish. "The state is giving us a lot of trouble. They are coming after us systematically," says Osman Keser, the DTP mayor of Yakapinar, a municipal district of Adana, a large city near Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.
"Anything we say now gets us in trouble," adds the mayor, who is among 56 other DTP mayors currently facing charges for having written an open letter in support of Roj TV, a Kurdish-language satellite network broadcasting out of Denmark. The Turkish government is trying to shut the channel down.
[ . . . ]
"The crackdown is a process of intimidation and judicial harassment of the party," says Reyhan Yalcindag, vice president of the Human Rights Association, a Turkish watchdog group. "As human rights defenders, we are very concerned."
Contrast, from the Federation of American Scientists:
The Turkish government has consistently thwarted attempts by the Kurds to organize politically. Kurdish political parties are shut down one after another, and party members are harassed and imprisoned for "crimes of opinion." Most famously, in 1994 Leyla Zana--who, three years prior, had been the first Kurdish woman elected to the Turkish parliament--was sentenced to 15 years for "separatist speech." Her party was banned. More recently, in June the leaders of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP) were sentenced to several-year prison terms for allegedly having ties with the outlawed PKK guerillas. The state prosecutors' evidence consisted largely of press releases found in the HADEP offices from a news agency close to the PKK.
Yet another contrast, from Human Rights Watch:
Meanwhile, attempts to organize and articulate the Kurdish identity through parliamentary politics have been consistently frustrated. Since 1971, every party that has explicitly voiced the need to tackle the problems of the Kurdish minority has been closed down as "separatist" under Article 81 of the Law on Political Parties which forbids mention of racial or religious minorities. In the 1990s alone, eight political parties were shut down on these grounds. The People's Labor Party (HEP) and its successor parties have been subjected to relentless persecution by the state and its security forces for over a decade.
HEP scored notable successes in the 1991 election, winning twenty-two parliamentary seats. However, when HEP deputies went to take up their parliamentary seats, there was a near-riot in the assembly. Leyla Zana, a HEP deputy, appeared wearing the "Kurdish colours" (red, yellow and green) in her hair and announced in Kurdish that she was taking her parliamentary oath in Turkish under protest. Many of those enraged by this act mistakenly believed that these were the colours of the PKK. The Ankara State Prosecutor, who drew up the indictment against Zana, was among those who reacted strongly to the incident. As HEP began to be perceived as the political wing of the PKK, it became very dangerous to be a local HEP official. Brutal raids on the party's offices were carried out with monotonous regularity, and those detained were, almost without exception, tortured.
Kurdish political leaders have also been murdered. Fifty-seven members and officials of HEP and its successors DEP and HADEP have been killed since 1991. In September 1993, the DEP parliamentary deputy Mehmet Sincar was shot dead in broad daylight. The killers were never arrested, and many believe the security forces were behind the killings. There is a good deal of evidence to support such a claim. Muhsin Melik, president of the Urfa branch of DEP, was attacked outside his office in Urfa in June 1994. Before he died, he made a statement in front of witnesses that he recognized his assailants as police officers who had been following him for some time.
Don't talk the talk if you won't walk the walk, Tayyip.