Monday, January 17, 2011

A silly comparison or the catalyst everyone is searching for?

The overall Kurdish problem is indeed complicated in that it spans four countries which host Kurdish populations. If an independent Kurdistan will ever come about, that is most likely going to be out of Iraq. Turkey only needs to concern herself with her own Kurds, and as long as TAKSIM/PARTITION is not the goal of the Kurdish community of Turkey for the eventual creation of a "Great Kurdistan" then in reality she only needs to worry about meeting their demands for more autonomy and self-administration in the east where they form the majority or only population for millennia, and more "cultural rights" as well as community status for all Kurds irrespective where they live inside Turkey.

Below I list a series of excerpts from newspaper articles which prove beyond doubt that something is seriously changing in Turkey, with the Kurds debating federation as one of the options for an end to their 88 year old struggle against the Turkish state's forced assimilation policies towards them. No doubt the Kurds of Turkey are growing impatient.

To those who say that it is just a minority of Kurds, I say to them nothing is further from the truth. The system until very recently pushed mainstream Kurds to mainstream choices, forcing them to conceal/subdue their first identity as a means for survival. Their Kurdishness remains strong and once the peaceful goal is adequately explained they will fully stand behind it.

Kurdish leaders are already pursuing self-segregation policies, albeit still at infancy, the conceptual stage. However, should Turkey fail to accommodate their just need for recognition as a Kurdish community, and make a clear 180 degree turn away from forced integration policies, then self-segregation may very well assume ugly characteristics as the Cypriot 60s’ example demonstrates. In which case, the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] will hardly sit idly by. The TSK already made its first public statement, since Ergenekon was made public and its image severely tarnished, raising red flags about the wider use of the Kurdish language in Turkey and “politely” reminding everyone that the TSK is still the boss when it comes the preservation of the 1923 constitution! 

Funny, the Cypriots are just as obstinate about their 1960 one!

When Kurdish leaders today openly say that "we will review other experiences in the world and will try to reveal similarities and differences in comparison" they are in essence saying that they demand COMMUNITY RECOGNITION and COMMUNITY RIGHTS. I fully appreciate Turkey’s inability to grasp such concept when it applies in their own home, but they will be called upon to make some truly important decisions in the months to come.

But isn’t the Cypriot experience the most suitable for the Kurds to examine? What better basis for the solution to the Kurdish issue within the confines of the Turkish state than that which Turkey feels applicable as well as fair in Cyprus, and comfortable with it being mostly of her own making too, especially the clauses that divide Cypriots along ethno-communal lines.

Naturally, when Turkey will be forced to view a federation solution, or a 1960/1963 solution or any other autonomy solution from the angle of the majority she will reach entirely different conclusions as to what is just and what not. She will be forced to acknowledge that one first must determine the principles to be applied in majority-minority community relations. Such exercise can produce win-win-win results if Turkey acknowledges one fundamental truth: she cannot preach one thing in Cyprus for a 10% T-Cypriot minority community and an entirely another for a 22+% minority community in Turkey! The Kurds simply won't let her.

A wider discussion should take place, in Cyprus, in Turkey, in fora where decisions are taken, a discussion which must include the societies. A win-win-win scenario is possible for the Turks, the Kurds and the Cypriots. And Turkey has the key.

But recently, she seems to be making all the wrong moves. I have argued elsewhere that, although I wish for Turkey to succeed, I highly doubt that Turkey is ready, its leaders, its system, its society, to accept the fundamental changes that are needed. 


But what are Kurds upto in Turkey? Where does their military wing, the PKK, stand?

"No consensus at Kurdish parley in Turkey" Sunday, January 16, 2011 ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News "The way to test the will of the Kurdish people is to hold a referendum, Halim İpek from the Kurdish Revolutionary Democrats Movement said Sunday. “The Kurds should decide on their right to self-rule,” İpek said, calling for a choice to be offered between independence, federation or confederation and the vote to be held under free democratic conditions with international observers."

"Speaking on the second day of the conference “The Meaning of Turkish and Kurdish Brotherhood: Problems and Solutions,” organized by the Kurdish Culture and Research Foundation, or KÜRT-KAV, and the Reform Movement, İpek also talked about the need for a new constitution under which Kurds’ separate identity would be guaranteed and all restrictions on education in mother tongue would be lifted. He added that the existence of all political parties that do not preach violence should be constitutionally guaranteed, even if they support independence."

"Rights and Liberties Party, or HAKPAR, leader Bayram Bozyel agreed with İpek on the need for a new constitution. “Federation is a tested model. Turkey is familiar with it through the Cyprus issue,” he added. “There is a strong tendency toward federalism in advanced democracies, in Italy and Spain for example. The European Union is another form of federal process.” Bozyel said Kurdish should be an official language along with Turkish and that a general amnesty should be issued under which members of the PKK who disarm can freely organize politically. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the EU."
"No consensus at Kurdish parley in Turkey" Sunday, January 16, 2011 ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News


"We will try to abolish the current constitution rather than amending it.  This constitution makes Kurds the most oppressed group in Turkey"

"We have two major demands which are recognizing Kurdish language in the constitution and removing article 66 which says anybody living in Turkey is a Turk. We want that provision to be changed to say anyone who lives in Turkey is a citizen of the republic of Turkey not a Turk"

Kurd Net ( Sept 2010 "Kurdish BDP-DTK delegation from Turkey meets Iraqi President" 6.9.2010


Kurds of Turkey are "establishing local assemblies & a local ‘security force’ to respond to the social needs of the people in southeastern Turkey as part of their ideas about 'democratic autonomy'."

Democratic autonomy aims to democratize the [Turkish] Republic, changing the rigidity of the nation-state that does not satisfy the needs of the people of Turkey while also eliminating the impediment that the nation-state creates in front of the political, social, economic and cultural development of the people,” the draft read.

Political administration of the autonomous model would be organized from the grassroots level through “village communes, town, district and neighborhood assemblies and city assemblies,” according to the draft, which said these would all be represented within an upper body, named the “Society Congress.”

Democratic autonomy would not cause a changing of borders but within those borders it would make stronger the fraternity and unity of people,” the draft said, adding that it would start a new period for Kurdish-Turkish relations with “a new contract between Turkey and the Kurds.”

"Kurdish congress in Turkey seeks far-reaching autonomy" Sunday, December 19, 2010 ŞAFAK TİMUR DİYARBAKIR - Hürriyet Daily News


It is the guilt and shame of a system that has been trying to assimilate Kurds for 80 years.” Demirtaş said there was an opportunity for the state to rid itself of this shame and pave the way for education in Kurdish. He also suggested that shop owners be allowed to use Kurdish, name their shops Kurdish and talk to their customers in Kurdish, adding that there is no obstacle to this.

We will have bilingual signboards. Our friends are making preparations for the restoration of the Kurdish names of villages and neighborhoods. In every area of life, particularly in this region, the two languages should be used,” he said.

Sunday's Zaman "Blame game over Kurdish language stirs controversy" 19 December 2010, Sunday / Ayşe Karabat, Ankara


In the mean time, the PKK, a terrorist organization for Turkey, the USA and the EU, has laid its arms down awaiting the Turkish elites to put forth proposals which will in plain language describe what the much publicized by the AK Party list of “cultural rights” entails. Their expectations are high no doubt and their patience running thin [after 87 years of oppression, 30 years of armed struggle & 40.000 deaths].

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Turkey's Kurds & Cyprus' tCypriots

As either unitary state or federation solutions are discussed as replacements to Cyprus' 1960 and Turkey's 1923 unworkable constitutions, should we abide by "if a right is a right too many for Turkey's Kurdish community (circa 23% of population) then that right is a right too many for Cyprus' tCypriot community too (circa 15%), and vice versa." Is the adoption of this fair logic the catalyst to securing just solutions for both UN countries.