"I offer the Turkish society a simple solution. We demand a democratic nation. We are not opposed to the unitary state and republic. We accept the republic, its unitary structure and laicism. However, we believe, that it must be redefined as a democratic state respecting peoples, cultures and rights."
~ Abdullah Öcalan.
~ Abdullah Öcalan.
Did Mustafa Kemal ever say the word "Kurdistan"? It appears that he may have done so and on more than one occasion. At the very least, before 1922, it was very clear to Turkish officials that Kurdistan existed. But what about autonomy for the Kurds? Here's some food for thought from Özgür Gündem:
Why Aren't the Transcripts There?
In recent days, when debates over the Kurdish question have intensified, "recognizing autonomy for the Kurds" still keeps its important place in the daily agenda. It has been mentioned that the "recognition of autonomy for the Kurds" law was legislated on 10 February 1922 in the Parliament. However, although there are transcripts for the 9th and 11th of February 1922, the transcript dated for 10 February 1922 cannot be found. Former Muş Parliamentarian Mehmet Emin Sever said that he could not get any result for the application he made in 1993 to the Parliament's president.
It has been stated that on 10 February 1922 a law that recognized autonomy for Kurds was legislated. This subject was first mentioned in Robert Olson's book, The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion. Olson is an expert on the Middle East at the University of Texas. Using the British Foreign Ministry's documents, Olson bases his writing on a report that was sent by the British High Commissioner Horace Rumbold to British Foreign Minister Lord Curzon, that the [Turkish] Parliament legislated the law of "Autonomy Law of Kurdistan". In the report sent to Lord Curzon, it is stated that the law, with 18 articles, was legislated in the Parliament by 373 votes for the law and 64 against.
According to Olson's document, the first article of the law is as follows: "The Grand National Assembly undertakes the creation of an Autonomous Government for the Kurdish nation that is harmonious with its national traditions for the goal of the improvement of the Turkish nation with the necessities of civilization."
Meanwhile, such a document does not exist only in the British Foreign Ministry archives. In his book called, With French Documents: Kurdistan in the Triangle of Sevres-Lausanne-Mosul, Hasan Yıldız, too, mentions about the session in the Parliament about the "recognition of autonomy for the Kurds" based on the French Foreign Ministry archives.
However, the session that both Olson and Yıldız based their argument on from British and French Foreign Ministry archives cannot be found in the [Turkish] parliament. In 1993, then Muş Parliamentarian Mehmet Emin Sever said he made several attempts to obtain information about both the transcripts regarding the recognition of autonomy for the Kurds and his grandfather Cibranlı Hamit Bey's and Sheikh Said's situation. However, Sever said he could not get what he wanted on either subject. Sever stated that he was told that it was impossible to obtain the transcripts on 10 February 1922.
Meanwhile it is remarkable that one is able to obtain the transcripts of the 9 and 11 of February 1922 while not being able to obtaın the ones for 10 February 1922.
Historian Ayşe Hür said that legislation of the law of "recognition of autonomy for the Kurds" is not clear. Mentioning that there are transcripts for the dates of 9 and 11 February, but not on 10 February, Hür underscored the following: "There might have been a secret session on 10 February and the transcript might have been hidden. Or, such a session never occured and Turkey mentioned about the law of "recognition of autonomy for the Kurds" in order to alleviate British pressure. In this case, then, there wouldn't be such a law but only Turkey might have deceived the British."
In addition, Hür pointed out the following possibility: "The 10 of February  fell on Friday. In those days February was considered a holiday and there might not have been any session." However, Hür noted several statements of Atatürk regarding granting Kurds autonomy, such as his İzmit speech and in the telegram he sent to El Cezir Command. Hür also pointed out how Atatürk's many statements regarding this issue were censored in later years.
We know from the experiences of Armenian historians that Ottoman documents can go "missing" at any time, particularly when such documents touch on those subjects that the status quo considers controversial.
We also know that from the summer of 1924 on, the regime began to erase all references to Kurdistan from official records. It may have been at this time that the transcripts of the BMM assembly of 10 February 1922 went "missing" For more on those days, in English, check David McDowall's A Modern History of the Kurds and Ahmet Kahraman's Uprising, Suppression, Retribution: The Kurdish Struggle in Turkey in the Twentieth Century.
The reason that there is a discussion now about Kurdish autonomy and its history is that Öcalan will issue his roadmap for peace for 15 August, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first attacks by PKK against Turkish repression. The fact that Hürriyet's Ertuğrul Özkök has said, "The fact that Turkey so far has not tried to create a realistic relationship with Öcalan has been, in my view, an historic mistake . . . I believe that he can play a very important role in solving the Kurdish conflict," is an indication that the idea of creating a dialog with Öcalan has fairly well permeated intellectual quarters in Turkey.
Hevallo has something on that here.
In the meantime, the AKP is struggling to create a "Kurdish initiative" and reveal it before 15 August. Or, in other words, they want to beat Öcalan to the punch. Hevallo also has a post with more on that.
However, given the actions of the regime against DTP in the recent elections and given the endless drivel we've heard from AKP on the Kurdish issue--especially since August 2005 in Amed--I would not place any value on yet more words. It's time to see action instead.
Aysel Tuğluk recently aired her opinion on the current efforts:
Tuğluk described the recent government efforts to resolve the Kurdish problem as a “last chance,” adding that if the current process ended in disappointment, the clashes would be more violent than before.
I'm afraid she's right on target.