TO: Re­cep Tayipp Er­do­gan, Prime Min­is­ter of Turkey

RE: Kurds should be granted an au­tonomous Kur­dish state in south­east Turkey

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Us­man Malla

Hon­or­able Prime Min­is­ter Er­doğan, as you are aware, the long-stand­ing Kur­dish strug­gle for au­ton­omy has re­mained a con­stant is­sue in Turk­ish na­tional pol­i­tics. Kur­dish his­tory is dom­i­nated by the un­end­ing fight for self-de­ter­mi­na­tion and recog­ni­tion of a dis­tinct eth­nic iden­tity within the Turk­ish com­mu­nity. How­ever, Kurds have con­tin­u­ously been marginal­ized, scru­ti­nized, and dis­re­spected within Turk­ish bor­ders, a place they have long con­sid­ered home. Mr. Prime Min­is­ter, you’ve been in of­fice since 2003, ac­cept­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity to safe­guard the in­ter­ests of the Turk­ish ci­ti­zens, but what about the Kurds? In­deed you have men­tioned oc­ca­sion­ally that the Kur­dish is­sue needs to be re­solved and that you are in the process of launch­ing ini­tia­tives to meet the de­mands of the Kur­dish peo­ple. How­ever, I have yet to see great im­prove­ment or a gen­uine ful­fill­ment of those prom­ises you made dur­ing your first few years in of­fice.

There are 15 mil­lion Kurds in Turkey but still they face daily per­se­cu­tion, in­tim­i­da­tion, and sub­ju­ga­tion. In this day and age th­ese un­just acts to­wards Kurds are un­ac­cept­able. Mr. Prime Min­is­ter, Turkey’s government con­tin­ues to fuel the long stand­ing war be­tween Turks and Kurds. But this is not a war be­tween good and evil as it has been de­picted through­out Turk­ish-Kur­dish his­tory; it’s a war be­tween right and wrong. What’s right is that hu­man rights and free­dom of mankind is a right of all per­sons, what is wrong is pro­hibit­ing that right and op­press­ing those who de­mand it. As Kurds we want to live, not merely ex­ist.

I am writ­ing to you adding my voice to that of Kurds who should be granted full au­ton­omy in south­east­ern Turkey. The Kurds have their own lan­guage, dis­tinct cul­tural tra­di­tions, iden­tity, val­ues, and have a deep at­trac­tion to south­east Turkey. Within this con­text, the Turk­ish government should in­deed al­low for a sep­a­rate fed­eral Kur­dish state within Turkey. Kur­dis­tan will man­age their domestic af­fairs but un­der Turk­ish law. In this man­ner, Turkey will not lose their sovereignty and Kurds will fi­nally be granted a state of their own. Kurds are pride­ful, in­de­pen­dent and like all eth­nic groups; they are seek­ing free­dom to speak Kur­dish and en­joy ba­sic hu­man rights; some­thing that Que­bec in Canada and the Basque re­gion in Spain have.

Thus, my opin­ion would be to re­vamp talks with Kur­dish and Turk­ish lead­ers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives. At this con­fer­ence, Kurds should be granted an au­tonomous Kur­dis­tan state un­der Turk­ish leg­is­la­tion, a full rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Turk­ish con­sti­tu­tion should be es­tab­lished in line with EU stan­dards, and PKK mil­i­tants who did not com­mit crimes should be granted amnesty and al­lowed to in­te­grate into so­ci­ety; this would elim­i­nate time wasted on civil tri­als.

Mr. Er­doğan, you have noted on numer­ous oc­ca­sions that en­try into the Euro­pean Union is a top pri­or­ity. How­ever given the end­less list of hu­man rights abuses that Turkey has com­mit­ted, ac­ces­sion into the EU will con­tinue on its un­suc­cess­ful path. Thus by grant­ing au­ton­omy to the largest mi­nor­ity in the coun­try, EU mem­ber­ship will not be the only door of op­por­tu­nity open­ing to Turkey. Mr. Prime Min­is­ter, it is im­por­tant to start look­ing at the Kur­dish peo­ple as an as­set to Turk­ish-Kur­dish pros­per­ity; not as PKK mil­i­tants. It is also worth not­ing Tur­keys’ cur­rent an­nual trade of 10 bil- lion USD with Kur­dis­tan Iraq. A de­ci­sion made by the Turk­ish government, re­al­iz­ing the ex­tent of change and wealth that in­vest­ment in Kur­dis­tan Iraq would bring to Turkey. Thus to­day Kur­dis­tan Iraq is Turkey’s sec­ond largest trad­ing part­ner. Just imag­ine what a Kur­dis­tan Turkey would do for the coun­try.

Turkey has ne­glected to fully re­solve the Kur­dish is­sue and as a re­sult Kurds are turn­ing to acts of protest, dam­ag­ing Turkey’s rep­u­ta­tion as a young de­moc­ra­tized state. Ac­cord­ing to BBC, Kur­dish pris­on­ers in var­i­ous jails in Turkey were not too long ago re­ject­ing to eat solid food, de­mand­ing Turkey to al­low Kur­dish in ed­u­ca­tion and le­gal sys­tems. Pro­test­ers also called for the re­lease of PKK leader, Ab­dul­lah Ocalan, who was cap­tured and sen­tenced to life in soli­tary con­fine­ment (Kurds Clash with Turk­ish Po­lice over hunger strik­ers). It is events like th­ese that are brew­ing at the core of Turkey and soon it will ex­plode into a sec­u­lar war. Turkey has made mi­nor changes to Kur­dish hu­man rights in­clud­ing free publi­ca­tion of news­pa­pers, TV, and ra­dio in Kur­dish. This is fine, but not enough. Kurds want full equal rights to be Kurds in Turkey and have their own au­tonomous state within the coun­try.

Con­flicts are al­ready ev­i­dent in Syria where Kurds are or­ga­niz­ing an army, align­ing with the PKK, and pre­par­ing for an all out sec­u­lar war af­ter the fall of the Syr­ian regime. This is a his­tor­i­cal op­por­tu­nity for the Kurds to fi­nally achieve in­de­pen­dence and they are work­ing uni­tar­ily to make a “Kur­dis­tan” in Syria a re­al­iza­tion. If Kurds in Syria suc­ceed, they will in­flu­ence events to come in Turkey. You once stated, “I will never tol­er­ate ini­tia­tives that would threaten Turkey’s se­cu­rity” (Ha­caoglu). How­ever, by sup­press­ing the Kurds and be­ing un­re­spon­sive to their de­mands, such com­ments alone are threat­en­ing to Turkey’s se­cu­rity. Peo­ple all over the world no longer fear their government, and as wit­nessed by the Arab Spring peo­ple aren’t afraid to rise up against their government.

Thus soon your gov­ern­ments’ author­ity will be less req­ui­site since Kur­dish au­ton­omy in Syria will lead to Kurds in Turkey to es­tab­lish the same. This will re­sult in more fre­quent acts of bru­tal­ity and protest; the sit­u­a­tion as a whole would prove dis­as­trous for the na­tion. Turkey will suf­fer fi­nan­cially, death and ca­su­al­ties will be pro­found, and de­struc­tion in­sur­mount­able. By sup­press­ing Kurds, Turkey is fu­el­ing Kur­dish hos­til­i­ties and mo­ti­vat­ing the pos­si­bil­ity for a “Kur­dish spring.”

De­pend­ing on how the prospects in Syria turn out, Turkey will be forced to face the Kur­dish domestic is­sue and will have to ac­cept the con­se­quences of not work­ing ear­lier and more diplo­mat­i­cally to solve it. Sooner or later, Kurds will achieve an au­tonomous Kur­dis­tan in Turkey. Whether Turkey is will­ing to have a say in de­moc­ra­tiz­ing and eas­ing this task is the real ques­tion.

Works Cited Ha­caoglu, Sel­can. “Turk­ish Min­is­ter to meet Iraqi Kurds over Syria.” Star

Tri­bune. 1 Au­gust 2012. As­so­ci­ated Press, 2011. Web. 27 Nov. 2012.

“How Much More Will Vi­o­lence Es­ca­late in Turkey?” euronews-In­ter­na­tional

News. 27 Septem­ber 2012. euronews, 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.

“Kurds Clash with Turk­ish Po­lice over hunger strik­ers.” BBC. 30 Nov. 2012.

BBC, 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.

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