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ANKARA: Turkey: The ugly truth about the Kurdish question

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  • ANKARA: Turkey: The ugly truth about the Kurdish question

    This is how the Turkish State has resolved the Armenian, the Greek,
    the Assyrian and the Kurdish problems

    ''The same state
    `problem solving' mentality was in work for both the Armenian and
    Kurdish questions. Population exchanges, forceful evacuations and
    atrocities directed at civilians. Nothing has changed over all these
    years. The same `problem solving' mentality created the very problem
    it was trying to solve.'' 42-the-ugly-truth-about-the-kurdish-question-the-a rmenian-question.html

    The ugly truth about the Kurdish question -- the Armenian question!?
    If we could discuss the Armenian question openly, if we could confront
    the Armenian tragedy, there would not have been a Kurdish question. We
    are far from understanding the Armenian question, yet can we be close
    to solving the Kurdish question?
    To answer this, we need to look at how the Kurdish question emerged in
    the first place. The same state `problem solving' mentality was in
    work for both the Armenian and Kurdish questions. Population
    exchanges, forceful evacuations and atrocities directed at
    civilians. Nothing has changed over all these years. The same `problem
    solving' mentality created the very problem it was trying to
    solve. The Kurdish question was very simple to solve in the
    beginning. There was a marginal armed group (the PKK, or Kurdistan
    Workers' Party) which used to carry out sporadic attacks against
    security forces. Most Kurds did not like them. But many Kurds also
    wanted to be recognized as Kurds; be able to preserve and live their
    culture, speak their language and so on. At that time, the Turkish
    official stance -- dictated by the military, basically -- was very
    rigid on the Kurdish question. According to this `understanding,'
    there were no Kurds, there was no separate Kurdish language. Kurds
    were `mountain Turks.' They were called `Kurds' because of the sound
    they make when they walk on snow: `Kart,' or `Kurt.' For those of you
    who do not know the difference between Kurdish and Turkish, they are
    about as similar as Chinese and English. So basically, the official
    understanding of the Kurdish question was a joke. If we did not know
    the sufferings of Kurds as a result of this `unwise' approach, we
    could even say that the Turkish state has a dry sense of humor because
    of the creation of this `mountain Turk' concept. But it was not a
    joke, and this understanding of the question caused a serious human
    tragedy in Anatolia once again.
    The treatment of Kurdish prisoners in the Diyarbakır prison after the
    1980 military coup was a turning point. The torture and ill treatment
    of Kurdish inmates in this prison was beyond human imagination. The
    Diyarbakır prison was like a Nazi concentration camp. The inmates
    suffered so much that upon release almost all of them went to the
    mountains to join the ranks of the PKK. People were imprisoned even
    for just expressing peaceful ideas about the Kurdish problem. It would
    not be an exaggeration to say that the phenomenon of the Diyarbakır
    prison created the PKK we know today. With these `angry' militants in
    its ranks, the PKK increased the number of its attacks
    dramatically. The Turkish security apparatus started to seek new ways
    to handle this =80=9Cnew phenomenon' and (not surprisingly, of course)
    came up with the idea of using more violence. They created the concept
    of `fighting terrorists with their own methods.' Kurdish villages were
    set on fire; 3,000 villages were destroyed. The monster created by the
    Turkish deep state, JÄ°TEM (an illegal gendarmerie unit), claimed more
    than 17,000 lives. People were abducted in broad daylight, and their
    dead bodies later thrown onto streets, under bridges and into
    wells. No person ever turned up alive after being taken by JITEM. The
    terror they created, like the terror in the Diyarbakır prison, sent
    more and more militants to the PKK.
    Stuck between a rock and hard place
    This is one side of the coin.
    On the other side, there is the PKK. It was first established as a
    Marxist-Leninist organization and turned into an extremely
    nationalist, violent structure. Many times, poor Kurdish villagers
    were persecuted simultaneously by security forces and the PKK, both of
    which accused villagers of aiding and abetting `the other' one. The
    PKK killed many Kurds. The PKK tortured and killed its own
    militants. The PKK used terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings,
    exploding bombs in the most crowded streets, and so on. The PKK was
    ruled by an iron fist. To be honest, for many years I thought the
    worst thing that could ever happen to the Kurds would be to live under
    the authority of the PKK, which has the potential of becoming one of
    the worst dictatorships the world has ever seen. Today we are at a
    point where Turkish state officers mention the `Kurdish question'
    openly, and both the PKK and the Turkish state are about to explain
    their `road maps' for a solution to the problem. In the past, there
    were occasions when we all felt so close to the solution. Each time,
    the `Turkish deep state' and the `deep PKK' found a way to sabotage
    the whole process. Today, because of the Ergenekon case, we are in a
    more advantageous situation. At least one `party' has fewer options to
    sabotage the `process.' But what is this process? Does it include an
    open confrontation with our past?
    Does it include both Turks and Kurds questioning taboos? Will it lead
    us to confront older and deeper wounds in our past, like the Armenian
    tragedy, which was created by Turks and Kurds together?
    My observation is that no one in Turkey is ready for this kind of
    confrontation. Instead, everyone waits for `the other' to accept their
    responsibility without sacrificing anything. I strongly believe that
    if we do not confront this ugly past, if we do not open our hearts to
    the human suffering, no `solution' will be long lasting. If Kurds do
    not open their hearts to PKK members who were tortured and killed by
    the PKK or the Turkish victims of terror created by this organization,
    likewise if Turks fail to understand the pain and suffering of Kurdish
    villagers who were wrested from their very roots, we cannot solve
    anything. This is the first level. At the second level, we need a
    deeper understanding. Both Turks and Kurds need to confront the
    Armenian tragedy, which they created together. If Kurds start to
    understand this tragedy, they will get rid of the illusion that they
    are the only people who ever suffered in Anatolia. If they understand
    the Armenian tragedy, and how Kurds were used by the deep state then,
    they would be much more humble, much less nationalist. We need to
    question many things. Every answer will lead to other questions. This
    is a process full of pain. Is anyone ready for that much deep
    questioning? I don't think so. Unless we engage this kind of
    questioning, we will inevitably end up with shallow `solutionsâ' which
    will not be long lasting. If we had understood the Armenian tragedy,
    we would not have become mired in the Kurdish question. Unless we
    question our past, some people will try to restore the `deep stateâ'
    once again, some people will try to re-establish the PKK sometime in
    the future. Everything depends on severing the moral bases of these
    terrible structures, and this depends on an open confrontation with
    everything in the past. Can we start?