Mr Jens Stoltenberg
Secretary General, NATO HQ
Bd Leopold III, B-1110 Brussels
Fax: +32 2 707 4232
Email: Stoltenberg.Jens @hq.nato.int
Dear Mr Stoltenberg,
Your recent expression of solidarity with Turkey against “terrorism” is tantamount to unleashing attack dogs against Kurdish citizens with a decidedly racist subtext.
I feel obliged to make you cognizant of the fact, however remote and improbable it may seem at present, that you may someday be summonsed or hauled, against your will, to appear before a de jure or a de facto Kurdistan Revolutionary Tribunal and/or Truth Commission.
As a Norwegian, you cannot be unaware of the 1905 referendum by which the Union of Norway and Sweden under King Oscar II was dissolved and both countries became sovereign states in a peaceful and democratic way.
Allow me to refresh your memory about the process of separation as it is highly unlikely that you would have revisited the subject since your High School days. You will recall that the Norwegian Parliament voted to secede from the union on 7 June 1905 followed by a referendum on 13 August 1905 in which 99.95% of cast votes favoured secession. Though Norwegian women had no right to vote, they started a signature collection campaign and within two weeks, quite remarkably, collected 244,765 votes, that is, over 65% of formal and informal votes cast in the referendum.
The King did not send any assassins to Norway nor did he send the cavalry with heavy artillery to attack Norwegian separatists. Respectful of the freely expressed will of the Norwegian people, he accepted the dissolution in a civilized way.
The racist subtext in your expression of solidarity with Turkey emanates from your apparent belief that Turks and Kurds are not civilized enough to resolve their differences the way the Norwegians and Swedes did through the ballot box! With Turks and Kurds, it must be “dog eat dog” and you have thrown your weight behind the top dog. Let’s recall that British diplomat Lord Curzon has allegedly said, “Turks cannot be civilized.”
What is the real meaning of your expression of solidarity with Turkey?
Firstly, NATO is a military alliance whose charter is to defend member states against military threats from non-NATO member states. The armed conflict between the Turkish government and Kurdish people led by PKK is a civil war as defined in the authoritative Oxford Dictionary of the English language: A civil war is a war between citizens of the same country. A most legitimate question is why you would express solidarity with one party in a civil war when you are so terribly silent about gross human rights violations, brazen attacks on media, journalists and offices of political parties, and intolerable restrictions on freedom of expression in Turkey. You cannot be unaware of the published annual press freedom indexes showing that the Palestinians under Israeli occupation enjoy greater press freedom than citizens of Turkey.
Secondly, Turkey is a name for a geographic area. Solidarity with mountains, plains and lakes is meaningless. If your solidarity is with the Turkish government you should keep in mind that around 60% of Turkey’s citizens did not vote for the governing party and repeated polls show that over 70% of the citizens of Turkey want peace and a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK. Turkey has squandered $300-$400 Billion dollars, according to various estimates, in order to deny the Kurdish citizens the very same rights, freedoms and political status enjoyed by a few hundred thousand Cypriot Turks in the shadow of the Turkish Armed Forces that continue to occupy northern Cyprus since 1974. Around ten times as many Turkish citizens have died on Turkey’s roads in traffic accidents than in the on-going civil war over the past three decades according to many Turkish dailies, notably, Today’s Zaman and Hurriyet Daily News online English editions .
Thirdly, perhaps you –and your backers- do not want Turks and Kurds to resolve their differences and disagreements through peaceful means. Turkish top dog repeatedly says he will not negotiate with “terrorists” and by calling PKK terrorist, you are, in effect, telling him not to negotiate, not to implement democratic reforms that would make PKK’s raison d’etre virtually redundant and armed conflict as meaningless to the Kurds as it is to the people of Scotland who want to separate from the rest of the UK. Perhaps, you want the armed conflict to continue and even intensify to the delight of purveyors of weapons to both sides. Hatching major conflicts can take a long time and in another 10-15 years’ time Turkey can turn into what Syria and Iraq are today –to the absolute delight of the merchants of death and destruction.
PKK: Terrorist, Separatist or Federalist?
Terrorism is almost universally understood as the use of violence and intimidation against civilians not directly involved in the conflict for political gains. As far as I am aware, PKK has never attacked or threatened the civilian population. Surely, PKK attacks on Turkish assassins in civilian clothes cannot be deemed as attacks on innocent civilians.
Turkish government representatives around the world produce long lists of acts of terrorism by PKK, but the Turkish government never agrees to proper independent investigations of these acts, lest it comes to light that they were, in fact, the acts of its own agents and hirelings. There is a civil war in Turkey. Uniformed and armed PKK volunteer fighters stand against uniformed and armed conscripts. Therefore, calling one side terrorist can only be due to ulterior motives.
Clearly, PKK is not a terrorist organization and will not be one unless and until its leadership chooses to resort to violence and intimidation against civilians not involved in the conflict. No amount of pronouncements, declarations and listing it as a terrorist organization will make it so. As an example, let’s note that for many centuries, under the penalty of burning at the stake, the Church imposed the view that the earth was flat, stationary and at the centre of the solar system. None of its crimes against learned men and women made the world flat, stationary and at the centre.
If PKK leadership ever wants to harm civilians to achieve its aims, it would not be too difficult, with its apparent international support in the Kurdish diaspora, to acquire what has been called “poor people’s atomic weapons” such as the nasty chemical dioxin. A kilogram of dioxin could make a city the size of Ankara uninhabitable perhaps for a hundred years or more!
PKK’s armed struggle is inspired as much by the Vietnamese people’s heroic anti-colonial wars as by the words of the US President John F Kennedy in his 13 March 1962 speech, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Successive Turkish leaders have made necessary changes through peaceful means like the ballot box impossible.
Like all organizations that avoid the fate of the dinosaurs, PKK has evolved and adapted to prevailing realities. It is no longer advocating separation from Turkey and creation of an independent unified Kurdistan through armed struggle.
Its leadership’s recent public pronouncements and peace proposals to Turkish leaders clearly show that PKK stands for a form of political system that is best described as federalism. For example, an important step in the transformation of the decentralization of power is for the Turkish government to legislate the election of provincial governors by the people they are supposed to govern. The population of many provinces exceed the population of many states of the United States of America such as Montana, Wyoming, Delaware, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont that have their own legislatures and governors all duly elected by secret ballot after informed discussions and debates.
Fully aware of their brutal treatment of Kurdish citizens, Turkish leaders’ nightmare for decades has been that given half the chance the Kurds will want to secede from Turkey the way Norwegians dissolved the union with the Swedes. Yet there is simply no reliable evidence for this belief today.
In conclusion, PKK is best described as federalist and its armed struggle as civil war. Your public expression of solidarity with Turkey can serve no purpose other than to convince Turkish leaders and nationalists, also known as, Turkish “NAZIS” of their right to continue to oppress and disinherit the Kurdish citizens of their cultural, linguistic and historical heritage and true national identity. You -and via possible development of new legal concepts- the members of your close support system may someday be held accountable for the terrible crimes that are being perpetrated against the Kurdish nation. Whoever had heard of “war crimes” before the Nuremberg trials?