Death of Kur­dish pro­tes­tor adds fuel to Turk­ish fire

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Bash­dar Pusho Is­maeel

In last week’s col­umn, the sen­si­tiv­ity of Tur­key’s Kur­dish peace process and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing demo­cratic ini­tia­tive was high­lighted with a warn­ing that sin­gle­bul­let can un­ravel months or years of gains.

The highly un­for­tu­nate death of Me­deni Yildirim, caught up as protests in Lice near Di­yarbakir against the build­ing of a new Turk­ish mil­i­tary out­post grew vi­o­lent, is just the kind of spark that can ig­nite greater strife.

As the re­cent Arab Spring has high­lighted, youths spray­ing antigov­ern­ment graf­fiti, a man set­ting him­self alight or lo­cal show of dis­con­tent, is all it takes to light the touch pa­per.

In a sim­i­lar vein, Turk­ish antigov­ern­ment protests have slowly snow­balled. The prob­lem with such highly-pub­li­cized protests in front of thou­sands of in­ter­na­tional cam­eras is that the gov­ern­ment has a small win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to re­spond del­i­cately and swiftly. One wrong move, the slight­est over­re­ac­tion or use of force and the small­est of con­tro­ver­sial po­lit­i­cal rhetoric and the sit­u­a­tion quickly blos­soms into an un­man­age­able cri­sis where even if the protests later die down, the gov­ern­ment never comes out un­scathed.

Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has en­joyed a decade in power and his achieve­ments, widely ac­claimed in Tur­key and be­yond, are in dan­ger of been eroded.

A year ago, the long dis­en­chant- ed and marginal­ized Kurds would have jumped at the op­por­tu­nity to pour fuel on anti-gov­ern­ment protests, a peren­nial role usu­ally re­served for them. In a twist of irony, the Kur­dish south east has been quiet whilst the west of the coun­try has been em­broiled in mass protests that have served to po­lar­ize and desta­bi­lize Tur­key.

The Kur­dish po­si­tion is owed to re­newed hope and ex­pec­ta­tion that the Kur­dish con­flict can be peace­fully re­solved and that Kurds can fi­nally move away from play­ing sec­ond-fid­dle un­der Tur­key’s ul­tra na­tion­al­ist foun­da­tions.

An en­cour­ag­ing and wel­come sign was the protests and outcry that erupted amongst Turks in Is­tan­bul in sol­i­dar­ity with the Kurds over the death of Me­deni Yildirim.

The gov­ern­ments vi­o­lent re­sponse in Lice and the grow­ing Kur­dish frus­tra­tion with their lack of im­pe­tus in im­ple­ment­ing le­gal steps and re­form as part of the peace process, adds more pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment.

The Kur­dish south-east has been at its most peace­ful in al­most 3 decades. Re­cently, Er­do­gan was quick to em­pha­sise that the peace process will not be af­fected by Gezi Park protests, and the two is­sues have been largely sep­a­rated.

Man­ag­ing ever ris­ing ex­pec­ta­tions is a tough task. Al­though, many AKP ini­tia­tives in re­solv­ing the age old Kur­dish dilemma were un­prece­dented, Kur­dish ex­pec­ta­tions have out­paced the piece-meal na­ture of Turk­ish con- ces­sions.

A stone-throw away lays a pros­per­ous, flour­ish­ing and au­ton­o­mous Kur­dis­tan Re­gion. To the south, even their Syr­ian brethren are fi­nally rid of the clutches of tyranny.

Why should the long su­pressed Turk­ish Kurds mea­sur­ing such a large seg­ment of so­ci­ety and in a coun­try with EU as­pi­ra­tions and hailed for its demo­cratic prin­ci­ples, con­tinue to set­tle for less than their le­gal en­ti­tle­ment?

It is even more ironic that Turks in West of Tur­key in liv­ing stan­dards, eco­nomic con­di­tions and so­cial in­fra­struc­ture far be­yond those of the Kurds com­plain about the in­creas­ing au­thor­i­tar­ian na­ture of Er­do­gan’s rule and anti-demo­cratic mea­sures.

Imag­ine the stance of the Kurds who have suf­fered greatly since the 1920’s un­der sys­tem­atic re­pres­sion, left to en­dure sec­ond class sta­tus and lacked at times even the ba­sic of rights.

Per­haps the new­found and much wel­come sol­i­dar­ity be­tween Turks and Kurds is a re­flec­tion of that irony.

His im­age may be tar­nished, but not all is lost for Er­do­gan and the AKP, who as much as the protests and me­dia at­ten­tion would sug­gest oth­er­wise, still en­joy good sup­port in Tur­key and who can still en­sure a suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the peace process.

How­ever, the mes­sage is clear, act quickly, de­ci­sively and whole­heart­edly, be­fore an un­stop­pable whirl­wind en­gulfs all of Tur­key.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iraq

© PressReader. All rights reserved.