At­ti­tude to Turk­ish atroc­i­ties of the past the real gauge of sen­ti­ment in the fu­ture

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

The Kur­dish po­si­tion in Tur­key is a far-cry from decades of de­nial, per­se­cu­tion and sec­ond class sta­tus but has Tur­key comes to terms with its past poli­cies?

The car­ni­val at­mos­phere last week in Di­yarbakir with Kur­dis­tan Pres­i­dent Mas­saud Barzani side-by-side with Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan and fa­mous Kur­dish artists was an un­prece­dented event.

The theme was one of brother­hood, peace and a pros­per­ous fu­ture of co-ex­is­tence. The mere idea that a Turk­ish MP would ut­ter the word “Kur­dis­tan” was un­think­able just years ago, let alone by a Prime Min­is­ter.

The in­creas­ing con­cil­ia­tory ties and a dose of re­al­ity from the Turk­ish state are wel­come and take the Kur­dish stand­ing in Tur­key to new lev­els. The re­al­ity of a pop­u­la­tion of over 20 mil­lion with a rich his­tory, cul­ture and sep­a­rate eth­nic iden­tity was cyn­i­cally ig­nored in Tur­key to its detri­ment.

How­ever, Tur­key has a long way to go be­fore na­tional sen­ti­ments will truly sway. The Kurds have a bad la­bel, a tainted im­age in Tur­key and seen as the ag­gres­sors and over­reach­ers. In 2013, with the Kurds as strate­gic ac­tors on the Mid­dle East­ern stage and with the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion long es­tab­lished, it speaks vol­umes when the word Kur­dis­tan stills stirs such na­tion­al­ist emo­tion.

The fact of the mat­ter is that un­til Tur­key comes to true terms with its past and its crimes against the Kurds, a new age and a new fu­ture based on unity and co-ex­is­tence will never come to fruition. The ac­count of the con­flict is acutely one-sided with the me­dia and state pol­icy play­ing a strong hand in the psy­chol­ogy of the greater pop­u­la­tion against the Kurds.

The West of Tur­key never had the full pic­ture of the Kur­dish is­sue and state atroc­i­ties. The scene of the bat­tle al­ways seemed like a dis­tant, back­ward, law­less and se­cluded land, not a land that con­sti­tutes such a ma­jor part of Tur­key.

With­out for­give­ness and un­der­stand­ing, brother­hood will never ar­rive. Tur­key must at the same time look at its past with a deal of jus­tice, re­pen­tance and re­gret.

Many dark chap­ters in Tur­key’s his­tory where con­cealed from the pub­lic eye. Only re­cently with some prose­cu­tions and tri­als in the Kur­dish re­gion have of some th­ese tales come to light. The Kurds have re­sorted to the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights (ECHR) in the past, but it is the Turk­ish jus­tice sys­tem that must take own­er­ship and re­spon­si­bil­ity. Too of­ten per­pe­tra­tors of state in­jus­tices of the best have been shel­tered and de­fended.

Re­cent tri­als have fo­cused on the dark days of the 1990’s when the war with the PKK was at its peak. Thou­sands of vil­lages were burned and de­stroyed, with mil­lions of Kurds forced to mi­grate and with thou­sands killed or dis­ap­peared. Some of the hor­rid ac­counts were re­vealed by sol­diers them­selves.

Yet the acts of the 90’s scratch the sur­face. Only in 2011 did Er­do­gan take the bold and un­prece­dented steps of apol­o­gis­ing for the killing of over 13,000 Kurds in Der­sim in the 1930’s.

Vi­o­lent means of achiev­ing your rights should not be con­doned and no war is with­out ca­su­alty but the whole Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion was sud­denly branded with the PKK or ter­ror­ist bush. If one vil­lage sup­ported the PKK, it was as if the whole vil­lage sup­ported such views.

Fur­ther­more, the state re­pres­sion of the Kurds goes back decades be­fore the on­set of the PKK.

If the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment has gen­uine in­ten­tions to build a new fu­ture of brother­hood then the un­bal­anced view of the Kur­dish strug­gle must be ad­dressed.

The greater Turk­ish pop­u­la­tion must un­der­stand the crimes that were com­mit­ted by state forces and the suf­fer­ing that was in­flicted on the Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion.

Whether in Iraq, Syria or Tur­key, the at­ti­tude to the re­pres­sive gov­ern­ment poli­cies of the past is an in­di­ca­tor of real sen­ti­ment in the fu­ture. Has the at­mos­phere re­ally changed or is just been masked with mere rhetoric and poli­cies that strength­ens short-term goals of in­di­vid­u­als?

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