Sunday, November 09, 2008


"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."
~ Harry S. Truman.

For those who enjoyed the previous discussion on DTP's solution by Gülay Göktürk last week, here's a continuation of her thoughts, at Bugün:

Even If They Defend the Federation

Behold, it became as it used to be. The document "Democratic Autonomy Project" that DTP presented to the parliament was labeled as the "treason document" by MHP and BBP.

CHP's attitude is no different. Our nationalist columnists are crying out, what kind of arrogance is this . . . The reaction was so severe that DTP subsequently needed to make a statement saying that they didn't defend federation. They said the Democratic Autonomy Project was not suggesting any federative structure. Okay, if they say so let us accept that it is so. However, I say that--even if they defend federation--what's going to happen?

You, on one hand, will tell DTP "okay do not expect anything from terror and here you are in the parliament, do your politics" and, on the other hand, when they start doing politics, all of you, altogether, will cry out to them:

"This is treason". Oh, yes, I understand.

They can do politics, but only the politics you want. They can talk about peace galore, they can give messages for "good and beauty". They can go after the corruption files, they can find jobs for their constituents, they can even--when they have the chance--allocate benefits. Of course, the municipalities can pick up garbage and repair roads; however, discussions about autonomy, about the state system, about official language, they cannot do. Nor can they do identity politics.

This federation debate really became stale. Firstly, this so-called unitary structure is not something from God. It is not a structure that comes from eternity and goes into infinity. Simply, it is a structure of government. It came at a particular point in history and maybe in fifty years no one will favor this system.

Now, almost half of the world's population is governed by federative systems and they are living in good shape. They neither love their countries less than us, nor are they weaker than us, nor are they more unstable than us, nor are they poorer than us. Secondly, there is no reason to be shocked by this thing. The federative system or state system is not being mentioned for the first time in this country.

Özal, even in the 1990s, wanted the state system to be debated. The choice of the federative system is the backbone of Şerafettin Elçi's party. Even Ataturk, according to some documents, had defended autonomy for the Kurds in the first years of the republic (I hate to point out the truth of an idea by using Ataturk as a reference.

In my opinion, I always think the state's power must limited and I always see the federative system more positively than unitary systems. Several experiences show that federative structures are more feasible in terms of living together in ethnically, religiously, or culturally diverse societies. The unitary system on the one hand, with its powerful centralized structure suffocates the other, who wants to give a reaction. A federative system, on the other hand, with its loose structure, enables diversity and gives the right to live more than the unitary system, by giving them the right to live, the right to exist, and the right of political participation.

For that reason, unlike is claimed, generally it does not cause separatism. Rather, it results in a voluntary unity. This looks like this example: If you put a diverse group of people in one house and you place in their hands a very strict document with rules, and you make them to share a budget among themselves, and [tell them] "you are going to eat together, wear the same wardrobe, and will live together" in that particular house, within a couple of days they will start fighting.

However, if you put the same people onto different floors of a building, allocate that particular budget for their mutual expenditures and, for their mutual work, you make them form an administration. Other than that, you leave them to live with their own rules and regulations. More than likely those people will be good neighbors. Of course, these things that I have mentioned are theoretical.

However, if we try to apply this logic in terms of making a transition from today's Turkey to a federative system, there will be no doubt several unknown factors. Indeed, the project that DTP presented to the parliament would serve such a discussion in order to see these results--of course if it had not been rejected with this kind of objection [that we have seen].

Besides, we would also learn to what extent this kind of approach would be favored among the Kurds. Whether it would satisfy their social demand or whether this idea is a theoretical demand in some Kurdish intellectual's mind but hasn't had a response among Kurdish society.


Anonymous said...

here is an interesting item because it's just a general example about how so long as northern kurdistan isn't solved and free, no other part will be. so much for a free southern kurdistan

bersiv said...

I totally agree

Anonymous said...

that's an interesting distortion of what Apo once said -- that a solution in one part of Kurdistan would lead to a solution in the others. It's interesting how you've turned it on its head.


Anonymous said...

I haven't turned it on it's head Nistiman. I am actually agreeing with the idea that you just paraphrased. I believe the solution in Northern Kurdistan is necessary if we wish to see a truly free Southern Kurdistan.

Mizgîn said...

Anonymous, I guess you are referencing the fact that much of the outside world that reaches South Kurdistan does so from within Turkey.

More basic even than freedom of expression is food. How much food comes through Turkey? Why bother to cultivate your own fields and orchards when the majority of your food comes from Turkey (and most of the rest coming from Iran)?

Serok--and KCK--still holds that North Kurdistan is key for the freedom of all Kurdistan . . . but more on that later in the week, after I finish posting DTP's Democratic Autonomy Project document.

Anonymous said...

I remember Apo saying that a solution in one part of Kurdistan will lead to a solution in the other parts. I could be wrong in what I remember. Or, I could be wrong in my interpretation. I understood that statement to mean that a solution in ANY part of Kurdistan will lead to a solution in the other parts. I didn't know that by "One" he meant "The ONLY ONE THAT MATTERS -- Northern Kurdistan".

Of course, I readily admit that I do have problems deciphering esoteric language and statements saying one thing but intending something all together different.

Notwithstanding everything I've written, I also have to admit that Turkey's stance with respect to the Kurdish question is fundamental. I agree that without some shift in Turkey's attitude, the other parts of Kurdistan will experience considerable difficulties -- but this does not mean that other parts of Kurdistan cannot be reasonably free (is any country really 'free', or free from external enemies or countries with opposing interests?) or, better put, that Kurds cannot attain meaningful rights in other parts of Kurdistan.

The fundamental cornerstone of the Kurdish problem in Turkey is the denial of any minority rights for Kurds. That is why Erdogan states that he will be opposed to a Kurdistan even in Argentina. Any sort of rights Kurds attain as a group ANYWHERE else in this world undermines the policy of denial in Turkey and I believe will -- eventually -- lead to a resolution of that problem in Turkey as well. It is a precedent and it has weight. That is why the experimental federalism of Iraq is so dangerous for Turkey.

But, the reason for my combativeness has more to do with the underlying problem which I sense: that Northern Kurds increasingly look upon Southern Kurdistan with disdain and belittle the radical change that has happened in Iraq. It may not be what Anonymous intended but I think that is the effect of putting a priority on the resolution of the Kurdish problem Turkey.