Wednesday, March 12, 2008


"These dams, highly profitable projects for US and European multi-nationals, are deeply connected to the US-led war on the Middle East. With Turkey’s recent bombing and now land invasion (both backed by the US) of the villages in Northern Iraq, and the power struggles over who will control Kurdistan, the Turkish, US and international dam-building hand is strengthened."
~ Maggie Ronayne.

I hope no one's getting excited about the NYTimes article in which Katil Erdoğan is shown as the savior of the Kurds, the bearer of reform. It's already been translated for Turkish media. Several Western media sources are helping to spread it. Headlines would lead the ignorant to believe that the Ankara regime, particularly the AKP government, is actually going to invest in The Southeast in order to help Kurds. It's offering "reforms" for the Kurdish minority. It's going to create better "relations" with Kurds.

And it's all bullshit.

First piece of bullshit:

As part of the push, the government will dedicate a state television channel to Kurdish language broadcasting . . .

This must be a rewrite of a 2002 article from the same NYTimes, in which it was announced that Turkey would allow Kurdish-language broadcasting. As we all know, this little farce churned out pre-recorded programs, censored by the state, in a dialect that has not been comprehensible to the Kurdish population of Turkey. Live Kurdish language TV is absolutely forbidden, as are children's and educational programs. Thus TIME summed up the need for real reform:

Ankara now has two choices: guns — which have never managed to eliminate Kurdish rebellion — or else a bold new policy designed to address Kurdish grievances, encourage economic growth in the region and move forward. Not just a token law allowing one hour of Kurdish language TV and radio broadcast a day (as was passed three years ago). Real, comprehensive reform.

Even now, a director of one of those Kurdish-language stations had to appear in court:

Until now, only heavily regulated local stations have been permitted to broadcast in Kurdish, but for no more than 45 minutes a day and only with Turkish subtitles. Gün TV is one of those stations. Its commissioning editor, Diren Keser, 29, recently appeared in court because the word "Kurdistan" was used in one of the station's programs. The misstep could cost him €50,000 ($75,000).

Kurdish is forbidden in any political or official discourse. The letters W, X, and Q are still forbidden to Kurds (but not to Westerners in Turkey). Private Kurdish language schools that were finally permitted by the regime had to close down because it was difficult for many people to pay tuition in that part of Turkey which has an unemployment rate averaging between 60 and 70%--and higher in some areas.

Second piece of bullshit:

The state will invest between $11 billion and $12 billion over five years to build two large dams and a system of water canals . . .

This is nothing more than GAP, a boondoggle that's been promoted since the 1970s. And since it's been around that long, you would think that some of the alleged benefits would have accrued to the Kurds of Turkey by now . . . but what we have instead is that 60 to 70% unemployment rate. Not only is Turkey, and the AKP in particular, using GAP to reduce the water supplies of Syria and Iraq, but it's also using GAP to continue the state policy of cultural genocide of the Kurdish people:

. . . [O]pponents believe it will devastate the area's environment and cultural heritage, as well as displacing more than 50,000 people.

Among hundreds of sites to be flooded would be the ancient town of Hasankeyf, considered an archaeological treasure and home to at least 3,800 people.

[ . . . ]

. . . [P]rotesters' biggest concern is what they see as inadequate plans for resettling and compensating an estimated 55,000 to 78,000 people displaced by the waters.

Some 199 settlements would be affected by the dam, Ms Ayhan said, but the consultants who drew up the resettlement plans had had access to only limited information.

Many of those displaced would be likely to head for nearby Batman and Diyarbakir, both of which have seen clashes between security forces and Kurdish protesters in recent months.

What about that alleviation of poverty song-and-dance?

The dam builders and assessors finally now mention women in the reports – but only as victims whose poverty is used an excuse for the dam to go ahead. If you believed these documents, the dam would do wonders for women especially.

Of course the promises are not backed up by any concrete plans or funding, there are few local benefits of the dam. As women from Suçeken (Kurdish name Şikefta) village say: ‘our question is: will it be harmful to us?’ But they have not received a truthful answer or even any substantial information about these reports.

There is no evaluation in the report we reviewed of women’s contribution to society through their caring work, I found no evidence that carers would benefit, and in all likelihood they would have to undertake an even greater burden of work in conditions of increased poverty if the dam went ahead. Proposals for ‘training’ and ‘income generation’ projects for women displaced by the dams are not properly budgeted for and the way the report speaks about involving the private sector and NGOs, it seems likely that any money for these programmes would go to professionals for ‘helping the poor’ rather than to women themselves.

The effects of the conflict are hardly mentioned even though, as village women from Suçeken recently informed us: ‘the main problem is war. This is the main reason for our poverty. The first thing we want is an end to war.

More on that, again from Maggie Ronayne.

Of course, an end to the war is very easy to achieve, if only AKP and its partners, the Paşas, had the will for it.

Third piece of bullshit:

. . . complete paved roads . . .

They're doing that for the military, and only for the military.

Fourth piece of bullshit:

. . . and remove land mines from the fields along the Syrian border . . .

But Turkey has to do that anyway, according to the requirements of the Ottawa Treaty:

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty, Turkey must destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but no later than 1 March 2014. In September 2006 Turkey confirmed its commitment to the Mine Ban Treaty and informed States Parties that its mine action plan will allow it to meet the 2014 treaty deadline.[59]

This is what's called making a virtue of necessity.

According to Landmine Monitor's 2007 report on Turkey, the most casualties come from the following areas: Bingöl, Şırnak, Hakkari, Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Tunceli, Ağrı, Siirt, Van, Sivas, and İzmir. That means that Turkey has a bigger problem than just landmines along the Syrian border, especially because the regime does not mark mines or close off minefields in Kurdish areas.

Since Sabrina Tavernise, the author of the NYTimes piece, has reported extensively from Turkey, she should know the situation better and should have pointed out the chasm that exists between Katil Erdoğan's fantasies and the Kurdish reality.

Atma, Recep, din kardeşiyiz! Küçük at da civcivler de yesin!


Anonymous said...

How can Erdogan say these things with a straight face. Also Sabrina Tavernise is practically Turkish state media relative to what should be expected from the NYT. Joshua Partlow on the other hand...he is original, that was the first article (you know which one) I've seen in mainstream print that actually humanized this conflict. Animals fight, but human beings are the only animals original enough to make peace.

Anonymous said...

Also, here is an article that damingly (haha) summarizes the evil behind the GAP project. It was published in the Guardian back in 1999.

Anonymous said...

Slight mistake with the URL above, the correct one is here.

Gordon Taylor said...

All very interesting stuff. Note, of course, that Hurriyet is pushing a letter-writing campaign to the Washington Post protesting their recent PKK article. It is stupid, it will achieve nothing. The Wa. Post article was significant. It showed the guerrillas as human beings. Even Bush, who doesn't read any papers, will probably get a summary of the article. And at least you can be sure that the staffers in the White House read it.

A minor question, and off topic: What does Şikefta mean, if anything? I ask because, in an account of the battle at hpg-online, Rubar Andok referred to one of the Zap peaks as Şikefta Birindaran Tepesi. Is there a common Kurdish meaning?

Anonymous said...

"shikefta" means "cave" in Kurdish Elîshêr

Anonymous said...

Dear Mizgin, xwishka heja,
thanks a lot for your job on internet in revealing the truth about the Kurds' struggle and the Turkish regime's ugly policies.

Spasdariyeka mezin ji Fransa-France


Anonymous said...

When I saw this thing in many news (via AFP), I remembered Kerim Yildiz book The Kurds in Turkey (Turkki, kurdit ja EU in finnish) and somehow I felt there is something now that doesn't fit. And then I opened this site, and: Bingo!
No wonder if people get wrong information and don't know what's going on, what these news mean.

What we can do easily (in Europe at least) is to send feedback to our newspapers and broadcast companies and ask for better journalism.

Mizgîn said...

Anonymous, thanks for the link to

Gordon, I agree, the Hurriyet campaign will come to nothing.

You're welcome, Elisher. No problem.

A, another thing that can be done is to write to editors and TV, explaining why their reporting does not fit reality so that they know that you know that they are full of shit and that they are approaching the point of irrelevance at the speed of light.

But people have to verify the information in the media as much as they can by teaching themselves about the issues they're interested in.

People must educate themselves.