Sunday, February 17, 2008


"[I]f we do what [German Chancellor] Merkel wants, then we will lose our identity."
~ R. Tayyip Erdoğan.

From Hasan Cemal at Milliyet:

Dear Prime Minister, are the Kurds assimilated or integrated?

Prime Minister Erdogan wanted to open Turkish high schools and Turkish universities in Germany, and said "Assimilation is a crime against humanity."

The Germans got angry.

It's normal.

I too thought about what I am: An assimilated Turk, or an integrated Turk?

My grandfather was Circassian, my grandmother was Georgıan. My great-grandfather was from Mytilene; my mother's mother is from Serez, Greek Macedonia. However, I don't have any interest any more in being Circassian, Georgian, or Macedonian.

Then am I assimilated? Or integrated? I guess I'm assimilated. Because I don't know anything about my roots. I don't have any knowledge about their customs and their languages. I have never been taught about these kinds of things in school.

I thought of Ahmet Türk. His last name is Türk, but he is a Kurd. In fact, he's a Kurd and the son of a Kurd. Then is he assimilated or integrated?

Are you kidding?

Look, they haven't let him name himself with a Kurdish last name . .. ..

Our state went against the Kurds very decisively. In addition to not letting the Kurds give Kurdish names to their children, the government changed the Kurdish names of the villages, the towns, the mountains . . .

Since the 1920s and on, speaking Kurdish in public was banned (the government of the 12 September coup renewed this ban in 1983) . . .

Our state even said there are no Kurds, but only Turks, for years and years. It denied the Kurdish language, culture. In short, Kurdish identity as a whole. It arrested both the people who said there are Kurds and who said there is a Kurdistan, just because they said so.

(Furthermore, the state treated such people as "terrorists" by the Anti-Terror Law of 1990)

In short, in this country:

Kurdish has been banned.

Kurdish radio has been banned.

Kurdish television has been banned.

Kurdish publications have been banned.

Even today these restrictions are partially being implemented. Even though the laws seem to allow several things [for the Kurds], in practice there are no such things.

Now, if we ask Ahmet Türk: Are you assimilated or integrated? I don't know, but Ahmet Türk might also get angry about such a question. "Go away, man," he might say.

But I believe nowadays the most proper person to respond to this question would be Tayyip Erdogan.

Dear Prime Minister, are the Georgians, Circassians--or people like Ahmet Türk, who are Kurds and the sons of Kurds--are they assimilated or integrated?

Your answer might be very interesting.

I agree with your view that assimilation is a crime against humanity. Especially beginning in the 18th and 19th centuries, all nation-states committed such crimes abundantly in the name of nationalism. I don't think there are many exceptions to this view.

Look, a couple of days ago, the new Australian Labor Party prime minister, Kevin Rud, went to the podium in parliament and apologized to the indigenous citizens, the Aborigines.

Why? Because Australia implemented a brutal assimilation policy against the Aborigines for a century. It was so brutal that the Aborigine children were forcibly separated from their families and exposed to an education policy that denied their roots.

Yes, Mr. Prime Minister. I agree with you, assimilation is a crime against humanity . . .

Now I'm asking you: Are the Kurds assimilated or integrated? In fact, I'm curious about your answer.

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