Archive for November, 2005

SUSURLUK . . . REVISITED

Posted in Uncategorized on November 29, 2005 by Mizgîn

Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand. ~ Simone Weil

Anyone who knows anything about Turkish politics knows about Susurluk. If you don’t know about it, you can check out this link and educate yourself because what we have here is a case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

On November, 9 of this year, a bomb was thrown into a bookstore in a little place called Şemdinli (Şemzîn in Kurdish), at the southeasten edge of the Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, where three infamous borders meet, Turkish border, Iranian border and Iraqi border . One person, with PKK sympathies, was killed in the bookstore and another wounded. The criminals, or should I say, terrorists, who threw the bomb were stopped by an angry crowd of Kurds. The terrorists fired at the crowd killing another person and wounding a few others. Eventually the crowd managed to apprehend the terrorists and, now here’s where it gets really interesting, two of the terrorists were recognized by the populace as being members of Turkish military intelligence (JITEM) .

Residents of Şemdinli even found a number of weapons and documents in the car used in the attack.

One might reasonably think that catching the terrorists moments after the attack, an attack that had been witnessed by residents, would guarantee that the terrorists would be taken into custody and kept there. Not so! By the 12th of November, two of the criminals were free. Guess which two they were? Exactly. . . the two from military intelligence.

Photos of protests here, courtesy of the BBC .

Outraged over the attack and the release of the guilty, Kurds began protests in Şemdinli, protests which quickly spread to other cities in the region. Finally, the unrest was felt as far away as Istanbul, a place far more removed from Şemdinli and the rest of “The Southeast” in atmosphere than it is geographically. It was not long after the release of the JITEM agents, indeed, it was during the protests, that the first whisperings of “Susurluk” began to be heard.

No sooner whispered than done. It appears that a Susurluk type of cover-up is in the works:

A two-hour summit held by several top Turkish Ministers and military Generals to evaluate the unrest in the provinces of northern Kurdistan (southeastern Turkey) came to an end with the attendees deciding that “illegal separatist demonstrations must absolutely not be tolerated”.

The meeting named ‘The Semdinli Summit’ was held at the office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday. The summit was attended by the Turkish Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Vice PM Abdullah Gül, Chief of the Turkish General Staff General Hilmi Özkök, Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek, Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu, Chief of the Turkish Land Forces General Yasar Büyükanit, Chief of the Gendarmerie Forces General Fevzi Türkeri.

The summit was held to evaluate the unrest in the Kurdish provinces which started after the leaders of a Turkish black-operations intelligence (JITEM) unit, which was exposed after it had carried out a bomb attack on a Kurdish bookstore in the city of Semdinli on Nov. 9, were released by Turkish authorities.

Kurdish civilians in Semdinli who witnessed the attack, chased and captured the unit. Weapons, bombs and other military material, together with documents such as death lists, list of informers and maps over former and future Kurdish targets were captured in the unit’s car by the citizens. Two Turkish military personnel have been arrested while two others, believed to be the commanders of that particular cell, were released.

Chief of the Turkish Land Forces General Yasar Büyükanit praised Ali Kaya, the leader of the cell, and called him an “excellent soldier that knew Kurdish and worked in my staff as my intelligence officer and communicator with the KDP and PUK in the 1995 joint military operations against PKK in northern Iraq”. Ali Kaya was among the released.

Thanks to DozaMe for carrying this news .

There was one voice of reason that made its way into print even as the protestors were making their way into the streets and that voice of reason came from Mehmet Ali Birand :

The perception of the Þemdinli incidents by a majority of the public is clear. They believe these bombings were planned by people working for the gendarmerie (in other words, the military) and the police and were aimed at provoking the people.

No matter what officials say, dismissing such claims and trying to prove their arguments, the public will not believe them.

The general belief is that some individuals who wear the state’s uniform are going around bombing places, blaming the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and then using the PKK as an excuse to violently suppress such incidents.

There were already some suspicions about such incidents happening in the Southeast. There were rumors about certain state officials and those who benefited from the escalation of violence committing provocative acts to incite the PKK. However, there was no solid proof backing such claims. Some of the public believed the rumors and some didn’t.

However, the situation is very different today.

Now it is openly said that state officials were involved in such provocative acts. No one can keep a lid on the information coming from the region.

This is a huge opportunity the state would be well advised not to squander.

The Republic of Turkey needs to utilize this opportunity and wipe away its past sins.

The public knows that the Susurluk affair was covered up. No one’s hands are clean, including those of the military, the police, the National Intelligence Organization (MÝT), the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-terrorism Service (JÝTEM) and even some nongovernmental organizations.

This time, everything needs to be totally cleansed.

As Birand says, the situation is very different today. The situation was in the process of becoming very different this year, as I could not help but notice on my recent trip back to Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. The atmosphere has been in a state of change for months now. The PKK called a unilateral ceasefire in 1999 and, from that time until they called off the ceasefire and began to stir in 2004, nothing was done by the Turkish state to repair the damage inflicted on the Kurdish people. The evidence is everywhere. Cities in the region are crowded with the displaced. Unemployment stands at 60% (at least) as an average throughout Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. The few factories I saw were closed. There is little hope that the Turkish state is willing to offer any solution to the problems.

Among a young population that is out of work and out of hope, PKK can offer what the Turkish state has always been unwilling to offer. PKK can offer work and food to this population of young Kurds that has been uprooted from their villages, has witnessed the humiliations and atrocities heaped upon their families and upon themselves for the crime of being Kurd. Perhaps even more importantly, PKK can offer a means to fight back, to reclaim the honor and the dignity of Kurdistan that the Turkish state has tried to destroy for almost a century. Such a reclamation of dignity for the Kurds of the North has been PKKs biggest and most lasting influence for many Kurds.

This latest insult, this new Susurluk proves that the more things appear to change, the more, in reality, they stay the same, and Mehmet Ali Birand comments on that too, in his more recent article, “A Dangerous Increase In The Kurdish Problem.”

Dara Sor recently commented on this blog that “so many are sleepless, like you and I . . .” The Kurds are sleepless, the PKK no longer slumbers, the Deep State is wide awake and terrorizing Kurdistan. It is time for the rest of the world to wake up and see the truth.

SOCCER, KURDISH LANGUAGE, AND THE EU

Posted in Uncategorized on November 28, 2005 by Mizgîn

The FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association–that would be “football” as in “soccer,” for Americans) has created a huge scandal for Turkey and the Turkish Soccer Federation. According to an AP report, Kurdish is mentioned as one of the official languages of Turkey in the 2006 Almanac of World Football, published by FIFA!

What a rotten twist of fate for Turkey, that suddenly Kurdish should be listed somewhere, anywhere, as one of the official languages of the Turkish state! For one thing, this little irony comes so soon after Erdogan left Denmark in a huff over the Roj TV fiasco which he tried to force the Danish government into shutting down. Roj TV is one of the few Kurdish-language channels in existence and is the only one run primarily by Kurds from Turkish-occupied Kurdistan.

For another thing, the association of the Kurdish language with the Turkish state must drive the Kemalists into a fury, given all the trouble they’ve gone to for the last eighty years in trying to lie about or stamp out this very language.

Secondly, the news that the Turkish Soccer Federation is upset about something or someone comes right after the Turkish soccer team dealt with the Swiss team in a way that could be described as less than gentlemanly, as reported by Deutsche-Welle.

And this is the country that hopes to join the EU?

The difficulty is that Kurds have pinned their hopes to Turkey’s EU accession, as a way of forcing the issues of political and cultural rights for Kurds, things the Turkish state would never grant on their own initiative. For the EU to reject Turkey will not hurt Turkey, but it will certainly hurt the hopes of 20 million Kurds who yearn for freedom.

Things are becoming very hard for Turkey these days. It gets less respect. It is expected to behave in a civilized way. I almost feel sorry for Turkey.

Almost.

LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND IRAN

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2005 by Mizgîn
When a man lies, he murders some part of the world. ~ Merlin, Excalibur

Sometimes a lie can go down easily, as if it were truth. One way of doing this is by taking a little lie, wrapping it and hiding it well within a body of truth and then offering it in the marketplace of ideas as a solid whole. Some people do this on purpose; others do it out of ignorance, but it is always effective. It is especially effective when one has a large demand for one’s product, and I am thinking specifically of a new article by Amir Taheri, one of the Western media’s more widely read commentators on the situation in Iran.

The lie is well-hidden within the article, “How Long Can He Pedal?” , so let me point it out for those who might miss it:

“Ahmadinejad, however, has not closed down any newspapers, at least not yet. Nor has he ordered the arrest of any journalist or academic — again at least not yet.”

This is a lie, but it passes easily as part of a solid whole because, for one thing, the rest of the article is very good. But mostly it passes so easily because the West has ignored, ignores, continues to ignore the struggle of the Kurds under Iranian occupation. Just this summer, the long-suffering Rojhilat Kurds rose up yet again in response to the murder and desecration of one of their brother activists, in a report carried on KurdistanObserver.com :

The police brutality came to light when Shovaneh’s body was returned to his family for burial. The police put him in a coffin that they nailed closed. The police forced the parents to sign a paper swearing they would not open the coffin and that they would bury their son that night.

Friends forcefully opened the coffin and photographed Shovaneh’s body – the gruesome photos were then posted on the Internet. The photos are deeply disturbing. The mullahs have no hesitation to be brutal to their own citizens, while betting the world will never see their crimes. The mullahs have been protected because common decency in the civilized world often lacks the courage to show the world the graphic results of such terrifying state violence.

Reports coming out of Mahabad suggest that Shovaneh was shot in the leg and that his torture included cutting open his chest all the way to his stomach – while he was still alive. Residents there claim that acid was thrown on Shovaneh’s back. The severe lacerations to his body and the swelling from being dragged in the street by the police car, or from beatings at the police station, are evident from looking at the photographs of the body.

The photos referred to in the WorldNetDaily commentary, quoted above, can be found here:

DozaMe.org

The uprising thus began in Mehabad, a city of great historical importance as it was the location of the first Kurdish Republic for a short time after the Second World War. But the uprising was not confined to Mehabad; it quickly spread throughout Iranian-occupied Kurdistan with public demonstrations and closures of businesses and accompanying brutality by pasdarans. As of this date, the repression continues and this is where Amir Taheri’s two-sentence aplogetics for Ahmadinejad falls into the realm of “The Lie.”

I found an update on the situation in Iranian-occupied Kurdistan in my email inbox this week, courtesy of PDKI. I am grateful to PDKI for this notice because, without it to refresh my memory of the events of summer, and the continuing situation, I might have missed Amir Taheri’s two sentences which were packaged so nicely for Western consumption. PDKI states :

The brutal suppression by the regime has reached all layers of the society including intellectuals, journalists, students, workers, teachers and even human right activists. Some other examples of recent violation of human right by the Islamic Republic regime are as follows:

Closure of three Kurdish language publications ( Ashti, Aso, Payame mardome Kurdistan) and arresting the editor and their journalists accusing them of publishing separatist articles. Their real crime was publishing the news of the demonstrations in cities of Kurdistan and exposing the brutality of regime in dealing with these demonstrations.

In another PDKI statement , from October of this year, we can see more evidence for the case of Ahmadinejad’s oppression:

Closing of Asso and Rojhelat Kurdish- Farsi newspapers that were accused of publishing anti-regime topics and news. A press violence court against journalists Mohammad Sadegi and Adnan Hosseini is on going. A variety of of cultural centres are threatened to be closed down.

The internet cafes are accused of immoral usage of internet. In Marivan 5 Internet service providers were closed down by the security forces of regime and the data on the computers were checked.

It is clear, then, that newspapers have been closed and many have been arrested, including journalists. The question of the shut down of internet service providers is intimately tied to the idea of “journalism,” because the free flow of ideas, news, events and thoughts is no longer confined to a journalistic “elite,” with their claims to “objectivity,” especially in matters concerning the Middle East.

And that brings me back to Amir Taheri. . . Is he lying by omission? Is he merely ignorant? Does he really not know what has happened in Iranian-occupied Kurdistan? Or is this a purposeful lie? Does he not consider that Kurdish media is worthy of notice and, in this case, is at the mercy of Iranian brutality? If Kurdish media is not worthy of notice, why is it shut down? Or does it not matter at all that this brutality is directed against the Kurdish people?

Once upon a time, in 1979, there were hopes among the Rojhilatî that things would change, that Kurds would have new opportunities and, perhaps, a measure of autonomy with a new regime, especially after the betrayal of 1975 . Subsequent history has proven that these hopes never stood a chance. Iran is no different than Turkey with respect to the fanatacism displayed at the mere suggestion of any perceived threat to the “territorial integrity” of the Iranian Empire and this includes the idea of Kurdish autonomy within that empire.

If Iranians and the West want to overthrow the mullahs, I wish them good luck, but do not expect that the next revolution will be obtained with the help of Kurdish arms and sacrifice, because Iranian and Western interests are not Kurdish interests. It is better for Kurds to wait for that moment of chaos that regime change will bring, and then take advantage of it for the sake of Kurdish interests.

However, I will make a prediction. The moment that the West begins to take notice of and complain about the atrocities of the Teheran regime against the Kurdish people, when it suddenly becomes concerned about the abuses of the human rights of Kurds, then we will know that the next revolution is about to take place.

TURKS, KURDS, FREE SPEECH

Posted in Uncategorized on November 26, 2005 by Mizgîn

“You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken – unspeakable! – fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse – a little tiny mouse! -of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.”
— Winston Churchill

Yes, the enforcers of the Turkish state, those guardians of Kemalism, are once again thrown into a panic because the people they have officially denied and repeatedly attempted to silence for a little over eighty years still have voice.

In case you don’t know, I am talking about the recent panic over the Kurdish satellite TV channel, Roj TV. Turkey has been applying pressure to Denmark so that it will shut down Roj TV, because of Turkish claims that it has ties to a “terrorist” organization, the PKK. The US has also began attempting to pressure Denmark on behalf of it’s good ally, the Kemalist state. What news reports won’t tell you is that this issue has a couple of very important components. First, this isn’t the first time that the guardians of Kemalism have shut down Kurdish TV broadcasting and, second, there is also the fact that Turkey has been dragging feet over limited Kurdish-language broadcasting within its borders.

Back in 1994, Roj TV’s ancestor, MED TV, received licensing to begin broadcasting from the UK, which it did begin in 1995. MED TV had, as its aims, the following:

The Kurdish Foundation Trust, which provided financial assistance for MED-TV, stated the following aims:

To assist in the development of the cultural identity of the Kurdish people and the Kurdish language throughout the world; to establish, promote and maintain media facilities and resources to educate and inform Kurdish people; and to work for the relief of poverty and suffering amongst the Kurdish people.

http://www.tbsjournal.com/merrifield.html

Naturally, MED-TV’s broadcasts reached Turkey, even to “The Southeast,” but what is more is that everything MED-TV stood for, all of its aims, all of its programming aimed at the heart of the founding ideology of the Turkish state, with its denial of the existence of Kurds and its policies of cultural genocide, so MED-TV had to be stamped out–or should I say “smashed”–within the “territorial integrity” of the Turkish state as well as abroad. Turkish authorities destroyed satellite dishes, threatened anyone willing to deal MED-TV to the public, and cut off electricity during MED-TVs broadcast hours as part of its domestic campaign to silence the Kurdish voice.

These kinds of tactics were really only fit for Turkish domestic consumption since most residents of the Turkish state are used to them. Westerners, on the other hand, tend to take a dim view of this kind of behavior. To help the bitter pill of censorship go down the international throat a little easier, Turkey had to use a little sugar. They presented themselves as The Victim ® of “terrorist” activity, the definition of terrorist being, as always, PKK. This was the justification for the international campaign of silence.

The air war began with Turkey pressuring the British government to revoke MED-TVs license. In the meantime, just for good measure, Turkey began to jam MED-TVs broadcasts and the chase was on, with MED-TV shifting broadcast frequencies to avoid jamming:

A Kurdish satellite TV station is launching a major campaign to combat what it alleges is the persistent interference of its transmissions by the Turkish Government.

Med-TV says it is considering taking the issue to the European Court of Human Rights and has won the backing of the anti-censorship pressure group, Article 19.

Based in London, the channel’s chief editor, Diler Akrei, said: “Since 9 October the broadcasting of Med-TV was interrupted by jamming.

“Technicians checked and said the disruptive signals were generated in Turkey, probably from a military base.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/193529.stm

In a letter to the Director General of Eutelsat, one of the satellite companies which carried MED-TV, the Kurdish Language and Linguistics Committee made the following statement:

It is, thus, with much regret that we hear once again about Turkey’s continuing efforts to jam the channel. Indeed Turkey’s policy and practice of censorship and undemocratic acts does not surprise us. In that country as many as 20 million Kurdish citizens are deprived of the right to broadcast in Kurdish and to teach Kurdish to their children.

What is surprising is the Turkish government’s insistence on globalizing censorship by using advanced jamming technology. In the free world no one can imagine a state willingly engaging in systematically smashing receiving equipment, cutting off electricity to entire villages during a channel’s air-time, and arresting and torturing reporters. But these acts do take place in Turkey against the Kurds watching the Kurdish Med-TV.

http://www.cogsci.ed.ac.uk/~siamakr/Kurdish/Kurd_lal/LETTER/letteraug97.html

In a free world, indeed. . .

The issue was debated in the British parliament, and it is from there that we can learn the practical effect of MED-TV on the ground in Kurdistan:

When I went to Diyarbakir and Mardin in December 1995 for the Turkish general election, I inquired particularly whether that TV station was being received and what was the public response. I was told that the viewers were positively rapturous. Old people had wept for joy after such a long period of cultural starvation. For all, it was a new window on the world and, what is more, in their own language. The poorest families clubbed together to buy sets and satellite dishes.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199798/ldhansrd/vo970718/text/70718-08.htm
That page from the British parliament is an excellent read all the way through, including those parts arguing the question of “terrorism.”

In the end, MED-TV was shut down in April, 1999 when the British Independent Television Commission revoked its license. This was a political decision that created a dangerous precedent, not only for Kurdish broadcasting but for free speech itself. Following closely the closure of MED-TV came Medya TV, which began regular broadcasting in July, 1999 from Paris. With the precedent already set by the closure of MED-TV, Medya TV broadcasts came to a screeching halt in February, 2004, at the instigation of the Kemalist state:

The transmission licence of Medya TV, which had been broadcasting since 30 July 1999, has been revoked by CSA, (the French Licensing Authority), on the grounds that it was the successor organisation to Med TV. The station¹s lawyers appealed against the decision, but this morning the French Appeal Court confirmed the decision of the CSA. News of the judgement was given to the Paris office of Medya TV today.

Together with the judgement, an order from the Appeal Court was served on ABSAT, the satellite operator, instructing it to cease transmission immediately. The broadcaster was thus immediately silenced without even the chance to make a statement to its audience.

http://home.cogeco.ca/~kurdistan1/15-2-04-france-closes-media-tv.htm

Roj TV began broadcasting from Denmark in February, 2004, as Medya TV was shut down and now, at the end of 2005, Roj TV and the Danish government are facing the same fascists who wish to silence the voice of Kurdish freedom. At this point, the Danish government is standing firm against the Turkish state and considers that this issue is one of the right to free speech. Additionally, Danish police have been investigating while Danish broadcasting authorities determined at the beginning of the year that Roj TV is not guilty of any of the Turkish accusations. The following are links to this latest news:

http://www.krg.org/articles/article_detail.asp?LangNr=12&LNNr=28&RNNr=70&ArticleNr=7516

http://euobserver.com/9/20357

http://kurdistanobserver.servehttp.com/nov/21-11-05-us-calls-denmark-shut-down-roj-tv.htm

The last link is to an article that shows the US government has also begun to pressure Denmark over the issue of free speech, with the US taking the side of the Turkish state, as it has done for decades in spite of the fact that the US State Department’s own annual reports on the human rights abuses of the Turkish state generally print out to some 50 or 60 pages, and include Turkey’s domestic free speech violations. I guess the US government doesn’t bother to read its own reports.

What does it mean then, when the US claims its desire to spread democracy through the Middle East and goes to the expense of some 2,000 American lives to pay for this end yet it encourages censorship, violating that very foundation of democracy–the right to free speech? Is it a warped democracy, devoid of free speech, for which so many Americans have died?

I mentioned a second component to the issue of Roj TV and that component would be the feeble attempts by the Turkish government to initiate Kurdish-language broadcasting within Turkey, under the ever watchful eye of the authorities in the form of the Turkish Radio and Television High Council (RTUK). Undoubtedly the impetus for creating Kurdish-language broadcasting comes from the fact of Turkey’s desires for EU accession but the fact is also that Kurdish-language broadcasting abroad has also prodded the Turkish government to consider the issue. The Turkish state must reason that since Kurds are determined to have their own broadcasting–as the adventure in European-based Kurdish broadcasting proves–then the Turkish state should control it. The Turkish state also knows it must make some attempt in the matter to try to satisfy the Copenhagen Criteria.

Why do I characterize the Turkish government’s efforts at Kurdish-language broadcasting as feeble? Am I merely a malcontent? An ingrate? No, the fact is that:

The Regulation on Broadcasting in Traditionally Used Languages and Dialects on Radio and TV Stations provides that radio and televisions broadcasts in traditionally used languages are allowed provided that they are approved by the Radio and Television High Council (RTUK), and that radio broadcasts do not extend 60 minutes per day for a total of five hours a week and television broadcasts do not extend 45 minutes each day for a total of four hours per week (HRFT Jan. 2004; MRG July 2004, 19). According to Article 11 of the regulation, “only the state channel and the national private channels can broadcast in these languages” until such a time when “a survey about traditionally used languages is complete” (ibid.).

http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/research/ndp/ref/?action=view&doc=tur42658e

But this reasoning only makes one wonder, why should the state control all broadcasting?

“Even if it is commendable that the state media are involved in the project, why are they the only ones to be allowed to broadcast Kurdish shows?” Kaya asked during an interview with AFP. “Private and local radio and television should be just as free to do the same.”

http://home.cogeco.ca/~observer/27-12-02-kurds-struggle-for-their-voice.html
Two additional restrictions on Kurdish-language broadcasting, as the Turkish state would control it, include bans on educational and children’s programming. These are not permitted to Kurds at all (Note: the next link is a .pdf download. If you do not wish to download, you can skip it.).

http://www.khrp.org/news/pr2004/OSCE%20submission%202004%20Warsaw.doc

Such restrictions violate freedom of speech and, as a result, I consider them feeble. . . at best.

Before ending, I wish to say something about PKK. I do not consider PKK to be a “terrorist” organization per se and I think this for many reasons, not the least of which is that very, very few outside the Kurdish situation ever bother to consider the actions of the terrorist Turkish state against the Kurdish people when they condemn PKK, which means that they are contaminated with the hypocrisy that has permitted the Turkish state to commmit atrocity after atrocity. The PKK has been a natural progression of the Kurdistan national movement as well as a natural progression of Turkish policies. It has had an immense influence on Kurdish nationalism and the way that Kurds think politically. If there were to be a purge of all outward signs of PKK, such a purge would never remove PKKs influence.

As a result, it doesn’t matter if anyone hates PKK, loves PKK or remains indifferent to PKK. Its influence is lasting and has contributed to the shaping of the Kurdish movement as it is today and as it will be in the future.

In the meantime, all Kurdish eyes and those of friends of Kurds are focused on Denmark, with the hope that this tiny European country will continue to stand up to the Turkish bully and its American companion for the sake of freedom of speech. I am placing my hope in Denmark and her people. After all, their ancestors were the Vikings. If anyone can stand up to the Turks, it is the children of the Vikings.

TURKEY, PALESTINE, HYPOCRISY

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2005 by Mizgîn

The hypocrite’s crime is that he bears false witness against himself. What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core. ~Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, 1963

For some time now, I have been pondering the hypocrisy of the Turkish state, Erdogan, and many ordinary Turks in their complaints–official and unofficial–of alleged Israeli oppression of Palestinians despite the fact that since the founding of the Turkish state in 1923, it has been the Turkish state policy to to deny the existence of Kurds and, failing official denial, to engage in murderous military operations against Kurds as well as cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing of Turkish-occupied Kurdistan.

From the website of the Palestinian National Authority, we find some indication of the official Turkish policy of hypocrisy in this matter:

Israel’s heavy-handed policy against the Palestinian people has cast clouds on its ties with Muslim Turkey, the Jewish state’s key regional ally, with observers questioning whether their “strategic” partnership is still intact.

Leading the army of critics, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday condemned as “state terror” the killings of civilians in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip where More than 63 Palestinians have been killed since the Israeli occupation began its operations in Rafah.

http://www.pna.gov.ps/subject_details2.asp?DocId=1435

Yet in that portion of Kurdistan which is under occupation by Turkey, Kurds have suffered under Turkish state terror for more than 80 years. We have, as one example, the ugly historical fact of the Dersim rebellion in 1937-38, in which it did not matter if a Kurd belonged to a tribe who resisted Turkification or not. It was sufficient to be Kurd for the terrorist Turkish state to murder. From the great scholar of Kurdistan, Dr. Martin van Bruinessen:

When the Turkish troops began hunting down the rebellious tribes, the men gave battle, while the women and children hid in deep caves. “Thousands of these women and children perished,” Dersimi writes, “because the army bricked up the entrances of the caves. These caves are marked with numbers on the military maps of the area. At the entrances of other caves, the military lit fires to cause those inside to suffocate. Those who tried to escape from the caves were finished off with bayonets. A large proportion of the women and girls of the Kureyshan and Bakhtiyar [two rebel tribes] threw themselves from high cliffs into the Munzur and Parchik ravines, in order not to fall into the Turks’ hands.”11

The Kirgan, a tribe that had opted for submission to the Turkish army and broken with the rebels, was not treated with greater clemency:

“Because the Kirgan trusted the Turks they remained in their villages, while the rebel Bakhtiyar withdrew. As a result, they were destroyed. Their chieftains were tortured and then shot dead. All who tried to escape or sought refuge with the army were rounded up. The men were shot on the spot, the women and children were locked into haysheds, that were set fire to.”12

http://www.let.uu.nl/~martin.vanbruinessen/personal/publications/Dersim.pdf

The murder continued in the spring of 1938, again, from Dr. Martin van Bruinessen:

In the spring of 1938 military operations resumed on an even larger scale. The Karabal, Ferhad and Pilvank tribes, which surrendered, were annihilated. Women and children of these tribes were locked into haysheds and burnt alive. Men and women of the Pilvank and Aşağı Abbas tribes, that had always remained loyal to the government, were lined up in the In and Inciga valleys and shot. The women and girls in Irgan village were rounded up, sprinkled with kerosine and set alight. Khech, the chief village of the Sheykh Mehmedan tribe, which had already surrendered, was attacked at night and all inhabitants were killed by machine gun and artillery fire. The inhabitants of Hozat town and the Karaca tribe, men, women and children, were brought near the military camp outside Hozat and killed by machine gun. (…) Thousands of women and girls threw themselves into the Munzur river. (…) The entire area was covered by a thick mist caused by the artillery fire and air bombardments with poisonous gas. (…) Even young men from Dersim who were doing their military service in the Turkish army were taken from their regiments and shot.

Let’s be absolutely clear, it was official Turkish policy to commit these crimes, especially from the Şêx Seîd rebellion (1925) and onward:

Shaikh Said’s rebellion did not pose a serious military threat to Turkey, but it constitutes a watershed in the history of the republic. It accelerated the trend toward authoritarian government and ushered in policies which deliberately aimed at destroying Kurdish ethnicity. Immediately after the outbreak of the rebellion, the relatively liberal prime minister Fethi Okyar was deposed and replaced with the grim Ismet Inönü. By way of defining his position on the Kurds, Inönü publicly stated, “We are openly nationalist. Nationalism is the only cause that keeps us together. Besides the Turkish majority, none of the other [ethnic] elements shall have any impact. We shall, at any price, turkicize those who live in our country, and destroy those who rise up against the Turks and Turkdom.

As for the charges of ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide:

The first deportations were simply reprisals against rebellious tribes. In later years, deportations became part of the concerted effort to assimilate the Kurds. The turkification program announced by Inönü was embarked upon with characteristic vigor. The Kurdish language, Kurdish dress, Kurdish folklore, even the very word “Kurd” were banned. Scholars provided “proof” that the “tribes of the East” were of pure Turkish stock, and that their language was Turkish, though somewhat corrupted due to their close proximity to Iran. Henceforth they were to be called “Mountain Turks.” It goes without saying that there was no place for dissenting views in academic or public life. Another historical theory developed under government sponsorship in those days held that all great civilizations — Chinese, Indian, Muslim, even ancient Egyptian and Etruscan — were of Turkish origin. Turkification, even when by force, was therefore by definition a civilizing process. The embarrassing question why it was necessary to turkify people who were said to be Turks already was never addressed.

Massive population resettlement was one measure by which the authorities hoped to strengthen the territorial integrity of the country and speed up the process of assimilation. Kurds were to be deported to western Turkey and widely dispersed, while Turks were to be settled in their place. The most important policy document, the Law on Resettlement of 1934, shows quite explicitly that turkification was the primary objective of resettlement. The law defined three categories of (re)settlement zones:

— one consisting of those districts “whose evacuation is desirable for health, economic, cultural, political and security reasons and where settlement has been forbidden,”

— the second of districts “designated for transfer and resettlement of the population whose assimilation to Turkish culture is desired,”

— and the third of “places where an increase of the population of Turkish culture is desired.”31

In other words, certain Kurdish districts (to be designated later) were to be depopulated completely, while in the other Kurdish districts the Kurdish element was to be diluted by the resettlement there of Turks (and possibly deportations of local Kurds). The deportees were to be resettled in Turkish districts, where they could be assimilated.

Lest anyone think that the bad old days of the Şêx Seîd rebellion, the Dersim rebellion or the Xoybûn rebellion was simply an aberration of the 1920s and 1930s, think again. Here is something about ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide of the Turkish state against Kurds in the 1990s:

Forced evacuation and village destruction started at the end of the eighties and beginning of the nineties and reached its peak in the mid-nineties. Detailed accounts of forced evacuation and village destruction 1 have been made by different NGOs (IHD 1996; SNK 1995; Human Rights Watch 1995). Forced evacuation and village destruction reflected – at least partly – the course of the war between the PKK and the Turkish state. A total of 1,779 villages and hamlets and 6,153 settlements were evacuated or destroyed by Turkish security forces (Turkish Daily News, 31 May 2000). Most of the evacuated villages are now in ruins. Unless constantly maintained, the houses built of clay bricks fall into disrepair. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (Türkiye Insan haklari Vakfi, TIHV) estimates the number of forced migrants at 3 million, and according to the Peoples Democracy Party (Halkin Demokrasi Partisi, HADEP), 4 million people are internally displaced (TIHV 2001; Karageci 2000). Zucker (2000: 2) estimates that Turkey is the country with the second largest number of internally displaced persons in the world. During the war between 30,000 and 35,000 people lost their life, most of them Kurdish civilians.

War is not only about killing people and material destruction, but also about the destruction of social institutions and social cohesion in society. ‘Mass terror becomes a deliberate strategy. Destruction of schools, houses, religious building, fields and crops as well as torture, rape and internment become commonplace. Modern warfare is concerned not only to destroy life, but also ways of life.’ (Bracken et al. 1998: 3). In this article, I will argue that this is exactly the case in Turkey. The aim of forced evacuation and resettlement was the destruction of social and cultural cohesion among Kurds and their subsequent assimilation into Turks. I will present historical evidence for my argument and address contemporary re-settlement projects. Before doing that, I will briefly discuss the concept of the nation and nationalism as factor of cohesion in official political thinking in Turkey.

http://www.ethnopolitics.org/archive/volume_I/issue_1/jongerden.pdf

Given this history of atrocity upon atrocity as official Turkish state policy, I find it very difficult to take seriously the ludicrous statements of Erdogan, such as this one, again from the PNA:

Following the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March, Erdogan accused Israel of perpetrating a “terrorist act” and angrily conceded that Ankara’s intention to mediate for peace between the Arabs and Israel were “messed up”.

http://www.pna.gov.ps/subject_details2.asp?DocId=1435

Yet I am certain that we shall find Erdogan speechless over the Turkish state’s assassination of Şêx Saîd. I also find the suggestion that Ankara is in any position to “mediate for peace” between any two groups, equally ludicrous. Has there ever been the same level of barbarity on the part of Israel against Palestinians as there has been, and continues to be, by the Turkish state against Kurds? Where are the hundreds of thousands of murdered Palestinians? Where are the millions forcibly removed from their villages?

Since 1980 the United States has sold or given Turkey–a NATO ally–$15 billion worth of weapons. In the last decade the Turkish army has leveled, burned, or forcibly evacuated more than 3,000 Kurdish villages. That is roughly three-quarters the number of Kurdish settlements destroyed in Iraq in the 1980s during Saddam Hussein’s infamous “Anfal” campaign, when the West was arming Iraq and turning a blind eye to widespread human rights violations.

That was from 1999: http://www.thebulletin.org/article.php?art_ofn=ma99mckiernan

Here in the southeastern part of Turkey, there are an estimated 2500 villages like this one, either evacuated or destroyed. People who used to live in them say Turkish army soldiers would come to a village and give them a choice; they either had to join the Village Guard, which meant they’d had to take up arms against Kurdish guerrillas, or they’d be forced out of their homes. Most chose not to fight the guerrillas, who are known as the PKK. As a result, there are some two-million refugees from this part of Turkey.

That one was from 1996: http://www.hr-action.org/khr/CBS011496.htm

More from the 1996 link:

ED BRADLEY: But Congressman Porter says regardless of the PKK threat, the Turkish Government has gone too far.

JOHN PORTER: I think what is going against the Kurds in Turkey, approaches government terrorism; state terrorism by the Turkish military. And while any country has the right to fight terrorism and to prevent separatism, the kinds of repressive measures, extra- judicial killings, burning of villages, and the like, is — is — goes too far, far beyond reasonable measures to fight terrorism, and amounts — amounts to genocide against the Kurdish people.

ED BRADLEY: Few could argue with scenes like this. German television was documenting this 1992 Kurdish holiday celebration in Cizre, when government troops opened fire. At least four civilians were killed. Yet in the face of mounting evidence of military repression of Kurds, the Turkish Government categorically denies any wrongdoing.

ONUR OYMAN: Can you believe, for a moment, that a democratic country can kill its own women and children?

ED BRADLEY: It’s happened.

ONUR OYMAN: Just — just — just to — to accuse terrorists? It’s against common sense. It’s against our traditions. It’s against our way of life. And you cannot find such cases throughout our history. We are not criminals. We are not barbarians in Turkey.

ED BRADLEY: But since 1993, there have been more than 4000 official complaints of human rights abuses made by Turkish Kurds against the Turkish Government. In addition to the outright killings, reports of civilians disappearing and systematic torture are widespread. This Kurdish doctor says he was detained and tortured by the Turkish military because he was suspected of treating PKK guerrillas.

More from the PNA site:

It is impossible for Turkey to keep silent at what Israel is doing today… Turkish leaders believe that the resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict is a precondition for combatting terrorism and bringing democracy to the region,” said Mensur Akgun, a scholar of international relations.

But it has been official Turkish policy to remain silent at what Turkey does to those under its occupation. It closed Turkish-occupied Kurdistan to journalists in the 1920s and 1930s when the initial Turkish acts of genocide were ongoing. It closed Turkish-occupied Kurdistan to journalists during the PKK uprising in the 1980s and 1990s, only finally lifting the state of emergency (i.e. martial law) in 2002. The Turkish state has, therefore, purposely attempted to hide its atrocities against Kurds from the view of the world. Anyone who writes about Turkish state atrocities is imprisoned or disappeared, and any media offices who carry such news have been routinely bombed by agents of the Turkish state.

From the life of a Kurdish journalist:

[Ferhat Birusk] Tugan was born in Hakkari, a town in the southeastern region of Turkey where armed conflict between state security forces and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) has taken the lives of over 35,000 people since 1984. Though the Kurds comprise about 20 percent of Turkey’s population, laws to repress Kurdish identity have existed since the state’s formation. Tugan recalls secretly learning to read and write in Kurdish when he was 17. “It is illegal for schools to teach the language, and we spoke it illegally in our home,” he said. “There is only an oral history whispered into people ears.”

With a scholarship from Turkey’s largest daily newspaper, Tugan left Hakkari for Istanbul University in 1985. After receiving his degree, Tugan held a series of newspaper jobs until, in December 1993, he and 130 of his coworkers were arrested by Turkish anti-terrorist teams who surrounded the offices of Ozgur Gundem, a pro-Kurdish newspaper. It was United Nations Human Rights Day, but Tugan said Turkish authorities were angered by the paper’s coverage of the conflict in the southeastern provinces. “They may have been trying to say those new terms or concepts, like human rights, didn’t mean anything to them,” he said. Most of the newspaper’s employees were released immediately, but Tugan was detained for 14 days. “I saw the real face of the Turkish state,” he said. “I was tortured and harassed. They told me that if I went back to work for the paper, I would be killed. I knew they meant business as they had done it before.” In the months leading up to the arrest, more than 10 Ozgur Gundem journalists were mysteriously killed, he said.

Within ten months after his release, Tugan fled his country for New York, where he worked odd jobs and learned English. One month after he arrived, an explosion destroyed the offices of Ozgur Gundem, killing one person and injuring at least 22. “I saw the pictures of my office in the paper,” Tugan said. “If I had stayed I certainly would be dead.”

http://journalism.berkeley.edu/students/profile2001.html

More from Birusk Tugan, and something about US arms sales to the Turkish Republic here:

http://www.tsujiru.net/moen/video_trans/002.html

Back to the PNA article:

The government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), a movement with Islamist roots, is also under pressure from an electorate which is highly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, he said.

Erdogan, however, underlined Friday that his government’s reactions were not prompted by religious but humanitarian considerations, directing his anger at Ariel Sharon, the hardline Israeli prime minister.

Oh, humanitarian considerations! That statement rings false coming from the leader of the Turkish state in light of the entire history of brutal repression of the Kurdish people under Turkish-occupation. It also rings false coming from the leader of an Islamist party, whose state has engaged in brutal atrocities against another majority Muslim people. Therefore it is impossible for anyone to seriously believe that Erdogan’s condemnation of the Israeli government has anything to do with either religious or humanitarian reasons. Instead, anyone with the ability to think must consider that it is merely base antisemitism that fuels Erdogan’s fire. . . after all, it has been under his leadership that Mein Kampf glorifies the Turkish best-seller list:

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=4&article_id=13511

Where is Erdogan’s (or the Turkish state’s) humanitarian considerations for those it claims under occupation as its own “citizens?” Why does Erdogan, and the Turksh state, have to look so far afield to satisfy “humanitarian considerations?”

“The current Sharon administration takes governmental decisions to kill individuals. And they declare that this will continue. Unless we change this, we can never bring peace to the Middle East,” Erdogan told the Wall Street Journal.

PNA: http://www.pna.gov.ps/subject_details2.asp?DocId=1435

The current Turkish state apparatus takes governmental decisions to murder an entire people and it has made no effort to end its policies against the Kurdish people. In the last year, the situation has become worse in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. The government continues operations against Kurds, even so far as to target individuals, as it did recently in Semdinli, with the result that uprising and protest is spreading quickly throughout Kurdistan under Turkish-occupation:


http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=28558

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4443296.stm

Tens of thousands of Kurds have been demonstrating during the last week in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and it will continue even as the hypocrites in Ankara and most of the rest of the world remain silent–and complicit with–the brutality. I have sufficiently shown that such policies on the part of the Turkish state are not new, but are at the root of the ideological and practical foundation of the state. Neither is the reaction of the greater world, which passes over in silence the hundreds of thousands of Kurdish dead and the millions of forcibly displaced Kurds . . . silence which supports continuing Turkish efforts at blocking or simply ignoring all Kurdish attempts to bring these long-standing grievances to a negotiating table.

Unless Turkey radically changes from the “heavy-handed policy,” state terror and hypocrisy that it has employed for so many decades against the Kurdish people, there will never be peace in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan or in Turkey.

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