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Friday, December 30, 2005

What genocide? Armenians? Kurds? Nah


Turkey, Iraq and the Kurds

By Tulin Daloglu
December 28, 2005


Some claim that Turks want to preserve Iraq's territorial integrity because they see Iraqi Kurds as a threat to their borders. Is this a racist, anti-Kurdish Turkey? No. But each time the Kurdish issue arises, some treat the Turkish state as criminal. Those on the other side say it is the Turkish government's duty to win the hearts and minds of its Kurdish citizens. If not, there is no solution to the separatist Kurdish nationalist feelings that fuel PKK terrorism. When al Qaeda attacked on September 11, Osama bin Laden's issues were with the U.S. government more than its citizens. The bottom line: A terrorist is a terrorist, and a state has the right to defend itself when attacked.

ut some argue that the Kurdish question is different, and not limited to PKK terrorism. In fact, Robert Blackwill, who served as deputy national security adviser and presidential envoy to Iraq during first Bush administration, sounded surprised at a recent Council of Foreign Relations event when he acknowledged the fact that "[M]ost of the economic development that's happening in Kurdish Iraq is coming across the Turkish border." He may be surprised because the lobbying firm he heads, Barbour Griffith & Rogers, was retained by the Kurdistan Democratic Party in July 2004 "to ensure that Iraqi Kurdistan maintains its autonomy from Baghdad in the new Iraq Government, and for the return of oil-rich Kirkuk -- which Saddam Hussein had 'Arabized' as the capital of the region -- to Kurdistan."


Since the war in Iraq, the biases against Turkey on the Kurdish issue have resulted in Iraqi Kurds not taking action against the PKK. Moreover, they persuaded the United States that it is the right thing not to act against them. Those PKK terrorists have crossed the border from Northern Iraq into Turkey, and so far have killed more than 260 innocent Turkish citizens. If the PKK is a terrorist organization similar to al Qaeda -- as stated by various senior U.S. officials -- then ask yourself this question: What action would the U.S. government take if it knew al Qaeda terrorists could cross the border into the United States from Mexico?

So will they admit they murdered a million Armenians yet? Killed thousands of Kurds, and destroyed 3,000 villages?

This article is bullshit, not because the author is wrong, but because it has big fucking blind spots.

Modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal (better known as Atatürk--"father of the Turks"), enacted a constitution 70 years ago which denied the existence of distinct cultural sub-groups in Turkey. As a result, any expression by the Kurds (as well as other minorities in Turkey) of unique ethnic identity has been harshly repressed. For example, until 1991, the use of the Kurdish language--although widespread--was illegal. To this day, any talk that hints of Kurdish nationalism is deemed separatism, and grounds for imprisonment.

The Turkish government has consistently thwarted attempts by the Kurds to organize politically. Kurdish political parties are shut down one after another, and party members are harassed and imprisoned for "crimes of opinion." Most famously, in 1994 Leyla Zana--who, three years prior, had been the first Kurdish woman elected to the Turkish parliament--was sentenced to 15 years for "separatist speech." Her party was banned. More recently, in June the leaders of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP) were sentenced to several-year prison terms for allegedly having ties with the outlawed PKK guerillas. The state prosecutors' evidence consisted largely of press releases found in the HADEP offices from a news agency close to the PKK.

Adding to the grievances of Turkey's Kurds is the economic underdevelopment of the southeast. The Ankara government has systematically withheld resources from the Kurdish region. As a result, there are two distinct Turkeys: the northern and western regions are highly developed and cosmopolitan, part of the "first world," while the south and east are truly of the "third world."

The disparity and repression led to the formation of an armed separatist movement, the PKK, in 1984. While the majority of Turkey's Kurds do not openly support separatism from the Turkish state, many do support the PKK, as the only force fighting for broader Kurdish cultural, economic and political rights.

The state immediately responded to this threat with increased force, deploying some 300,000 troops in the southeast at an annual cost of $8 billion. In addition, the Turkish armed forces instituted a system of "village guards," paying and arming Kurds to keep the PKK guerillas out of their villages. Villages that refuse to participate in the guard system face demolition by the Turkish military, while those that go along suffer under harsh reprisals by the PKK.

The war escalated dramatically in the early 1990s. Between 1984-91, an estimated 2,500 people had been killed. Over the next four years, that figure shot up to 20,000. Some 3,000 villages have been destroyed by the military in an effort to rout out PKK sympathizers, creating more than 2 million refugees.

It's not biased to wonder if a country which has never come to terms with its genocidal acts might rampage across Kurdistan to hunt down the PKK and not be too careful in dealing with the Peshmerga.

Oh, and the difference between Al Qaeda and the PKK is simple. The PKK is made up of Turkish citizens rebelling against Turkish acts against their culture and peoples.

And there is this:

Turkey won’t charge Pamuk over military comments

ANKARA, DECEMBER 29: State prosecutors will not press charges against novelist Orhan Pamuk over comments in an interview that Turkey’s military was sometimes a threat to democracy, the state Anatolian news agency said on Thursday.

Pamuk is already on trial under Article 301 of the penal code for separate remarks that nobody in Turkey dared discuss the alleged massacre of a million Armenians during World War I and the deaths of 30,000 Kurds in the past two decades. His case has attracted strong international interest and has raised difficulties for Turkey’s as it negotiates for EU membership.

posted by Steve @ 2:37:00 AM

2:37:00 AM

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