Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Turkish state terror under the guise of 'counter-terrorism

Turkish state terror under the guise of 'counter-terrorism' has historically enabled the eradication of Kurdish identity and culture. The legacy of Turkish state violence against the Kurds remains in the unsolved mass disappearances and the lack of justice and accountability for torture and other crimes against humanity. Kurds today still routinely face collective repression for speaking in their mother tongue. Prosecutions under terrorism laws for simply saying the words 'Kurd' and 'Kurdistan' indicate the scale of the institutional violence of denying an entire people the right to speak their language and express their true identity.

This seminar will explore how escalating Turkish state terror has enabled the continuing genocide of the Kurdish people by repressing their language and identity. Resistance against state terror in the campaign for Kurdish language rights, however, demonstrates a growing social movement at a time when Turkey is being heralded as a 'model' for democracy in the region.

The language issue has come to the forefront in recent weeks with the mass trial of Kurdish politicians which opened in Diyarbakir in October last year; hundreds of Kurds, who stand accused of “links with terrorism”, have demanded the right to defend themselves in their Kurdish mother tongue in the courtroom which has so far been refused and only delayed the court proceedings. By the end of February 2011, 1.1 million signatures were presented to the Petition Commission of the Turkish Grand National Assembly two months after the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) initiated a campaign on 'Education in the Mother Language'. This campaign has been supported by many Kurdish and Turkish organisations, NGOs and trade unions including the Human Rights Association (IHD), the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUMDER), the teachers Education and Science Workers' Union (Egitim-Sen).

The legal recognition of language rights in Turkey ultimately need to be anchored in a democratic constitution and to date the slow pace of reforms has fallen far short of what is required.

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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.