WORDS, WEAPONS, AND INHERENT RIGHTS

“If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government –and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws.” ~ Edward Abbey in Abbey’s Road, p.39 (Plume, 1979)

One of the co-chairs of the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission makes some interesting comments in Zaman:

The PKK must totally disarm, according to Lagendjik, not just for a few weeks, and “Instead of armed struggle, one must profit from the positive atmosphere that emerged after AKP, especially after Prime Minister Erdogan’s speech in Diyarbakir,” he said.

Firstly, Kurds must never give up the right of legitimate liberation struggle with the accessory right of the use of force, rights which always exist because they are inherent, according to UN General Assembly Resolution 2708 (XXV), 12 Oct. 1979:

In session XXV in 1970, the UN General Assembly for the first time spoke of “the inherent right of all colonised peoples… to use all the necessary means at their disposal to struggle against the colonial power which oppresses their striving for freedom and independence”.

Three years later, an explicit recognition of the right to wage armed struggle was passed by the UN. A series of resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly legitimized the use of force in armed struggle. The most signicant of those resolutions was passed in December 1973, despite resistance from 13 Western states. Entitled “The fundamental Principles of the Legal Status of Combatants who Struggle Against Colonial or Foreign Rule as well as Against Racist Regimes”, the resolution stated:

1. The struggle of the people under colonial or foreign rule or under a racist regime to gain their rights to self-determination and independence is legitimate and in full agreement with the principles of the Rights of Peoples.

2. All attempts to suppress the struggle against colonial or foreign rule or against a racist regime are incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations, the Principles of the Rights of Peoples, the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and such attempts pose a threat to international peace and security.”

The fact is that no Western power has ever intervened militarily to defend the Kurdish people from Turkish aggression, an aggression which goes back to the founding of the Turkish state, a fact which has been “gracefully passed over in silence or deliberately misrepresented by most historians, foreign as well as Turkish,” as Dr. Martin Van Bruinessen correctly observes, therefore it would be the height of foolhardiness for the Kurdish people to lay down the weapons of their defense and rely instead solely on mere words and empty promises.

This brings us to the second observation to be made, the reference to Erdogan’s words in Amed this last August. Erdogan’s words mean nothing. There was no great response to them. Instead, it was the bombing of a bookstore in Şemzîn (Şemdinli) and Kurdish response to that bombing that have sparked the beginning of a discussion of the situation, as discussed by Mehmet Ali Birand:

The so-called Kurdish problem is still one of the foremost topics of conversation among the movers and shakers in Ankara. It is clear that things are not going well on this front. The developments in northern Iraq, the emergence of Barzani as a prime player, the increase in PKK actions and the provocations in the Semdinli events have all worked to bring a completely new atmosphere to the Kurdish problem in Turkey. The conditions that existed between 1984-1988 have changed. The situation has gone beyond being a simple PKK terror problem.

The situation has always been far more than “a simple PKK terror problem,” but it is only now that the Turkish public is becoming aware of the fact, forced into the realization by the movement of history. Other forces are at work too, within the Turkish state, including the upcoming trial of Orhan Pamuk, the efforts of Egitim Sen to make mother-language education a reality, and the recent conference on the Armenian genocide, as examples.

“I am in favor of the Kurds’ cultural rights. But this cannot be realized by weapons. The PKK is making a mistake.”

Mr. Lagendijk, it was weapons that forced an acknowledgement of the existence of Kurds by Ankara. It was weapons that forced Turgut Ozal to first utter the word “Kurd” officially. It was weapons that forced Turgut Ozal to support a revocation of the ban of Kurdish language.

Whether or not Ocalan is a leader, or ought to be a leader, is a moot question because he remains in Turkish custody and he has already had a lasting effect on the Kurdish situation. But the right of the Kurdish people to use force to defend themselves from the predations of the Ankara regime is one that remains forever, especially in light of the fact that the EU cannot, or will not, at this point in time anyway, guarantee the political, cultural and human rights of the Kurdish people while they remain under Turkish occupation.

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