HARD QUESTIONS AND ERRAND BOYS

“You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.”
~ Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now.

The AKP tried to make a presence in Amed yesterday and today, but the visits of Joost Lagendijk and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are not what they appear to be on the surface. In other words, they did not go to Amed over concern for the Kurdish situation, but to test the water for AKP’s support in The Region, in preparation for possible early elections.

Lagendijk has been a strong supporter of the AKP for some time. Back in December, he criticized Kurds by making statements that Kurds were “making strategic mistakes,” particularly because they had not supported Erdogan’s August visit to Amed. During that visit, as everyone may remember, Erdogan admitted that, in the past, the Turkish government had “mishandled relations with the nation’s minority Kurds,” which was probably the closest any Turkish politician would get to an imitation of Clinton’s, “I feel your pain,” remark. The PKK declared a one-month ceasefire in order to see what the response would be by the government, and Osman Baydemir responded positively to Erdogan’s remarks, saying that they formed “a foundation” for a new relationship between Kurds and the Turkish government.

Then, absolutely nothing happened, not until November, anyway. In November, the true rulers of Turkey made their response at a bookstore in a small Kurdish city in the far southeast of The Region, a response that has come to be known as the Semdinli Bombing. At the time, Erdogan insisted the government would get to the bottom of the affair, particularly since the incident caused widespread mass protests by infuriated Kurds, and besides that, the whole thing caused an image problem for Turkey. Nothing came of these words either, except to cover up the incident by blaming it on PKK and installing surveillance cameras in The Region.

Now Lagendijk has gone to Amed and, in preparation for his visit, stated that he would lecture Amed’s Kurdish politicians on the necessity of opposing PKK and “PKK violence”–whatever that means, because it is a phrase that has no clear meaning when coming from the Turkish side and Lagendijk is definitely on the Turkish side. The funny thing is that Amed’s politicians tend to be predominately DTP, but Lagendijk has never made a comment on the wholesale arrest of DTP politicians since the Amed serhildan. How are Kurds supposed to engage in political means to achieve equality when all political avenues are always closed off by Turkish security forces? This hypocrisy is never addressed by anyone, least of all by Joost Lagendijk and compañeros.

Another funny thing is that it was PKK “violence” that proved to the Turkish state that Kurds did, in fact, exist.

Lagendijk also went to Amed to spread the propaganda that Turkey is going to offer a better future for Kurds through EU accession, naturally. However, EU accession may not be exactly as advertised, and I seriously question the sincerity of Europe on the subject of human rights for Kurds, given Lagendijk’s comments that “most Kurds have already become a part of the EU, adding that the remainder will sooner or later and understand the benefits of membership in the bloc.” Oh, really? Then this means that the EU approves of severe repression of Kurds. It means that Kurds are already fifth-class citizens of Europe.

In connection with that, there is some enlightening reporting at TDN. The Czech president made a visit to Turkey last month, and about his speech at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Yuksel Soylemez at TDN made the following comment:

In his informal, off-the-cuff but most illuminative talk coming from an experienced academic to a distinguished audience, President Klaus, as expected from him, defended an EU with “deeper economic integration as opposed to lesser and lesser political integration.” He is an ardent Thatcherite. He argued that economic benefits of membership grow immeasurably with the start of the process towards membership.

Alarm bells should be sounding in Kurdish ears upon reading this quote. Early last week, I said that Kurds needed to begin demanding answers to hard questions of the EU, and that if the answers were not forthcoming, the EU should be told to go to hell. This quote to a Turkish audience by the Czech president is an excellent opportunity to begin with the hard questions. First of all, what exactly does the EU mean with regard to “deeper economic integration as opposed to lesser and lesser political integration?” Is this a confirmation of my suspicion that, since the EU got it’s start as a strictly economic organization, isn’t that its main raison d’etre?

If EU accession is only about economics, which is exactly what it now appears to be, given that EU politicians are in full support of Turkey’s domestic policies of repression against the Kurdish people, then what is the EU and Turkish plan for North Kurdistan? Isn’t it really all about the economic exploitation of North Kurdistan’s natural and human resources? Isn’t “lesser and lesser political integration” a clever way of saying that the EU will take a hands-off approach to continued Turkish human rights abuses against the Kurdish people, and that it will reinforce “territorial integrity” in whatever way Ankara defines it?

In case anyone thinks I am exaggerating or have gone barking mad, let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane and examine a similar situation which affected Southern Kurds and the atrocities the Saddam government inflicted on them. After the US Senate approved the Prevention of Genocide Act, it moved to the House of Representatives where it met stiff opposition, not only for political (i.e. diplomatic) reasons, but particularly for special interest reasons. The strict economic sanctions required by the Prevention of Genocide Act were less palatable by American manufacturers and farmers, and their representatives in the House, than were the fact of dead Kurds. Kurds were sacrificed on the altar of economics, special interests deeply connected to national interests, and the almighty US dollar. The Europeans will be no less greedy and, once again, dead Kurds or Kurds totally stripped of any human, political, or cultural rights–and how does that differ from death?–will be the easy sacrifice for EU-Turkish economic interests.

Hard questions . . . another hard question is hidden in Soylemez’ article, and that one has to do with the Czech-Slovak split, and the acknowledgement that Czechoslovakia was, in fact, an “artificial union.” This remark should raise hard questions about the legitimacy of an artificial union of Turkey and North Kurdistan, especially given all of the atrocities that have been committed by the Turkish government in the last 83 years of the Republic’s existence. Naturally, Soylemez uses the idea of “artificial union” to support Turkey’s questionable claim to North Cyprus, but it will probably never occur to him to explore the idea in relation to Kurds. It probably won’t occur to the Europeans either, because for them, it is only a question of economics and not one of justice.

Erdogan’s remarks today, in Amed, are such huge lies, that they are firm proof he has embarked on the campaign trail. From Reuters:

“We are trying to bring about long-delayed justice as soon as possible. We want to eradicate imbalances between regions,” he told a party conference, where he also condemned children being targeted by violence.

“We are hurrying with all our strength to make up for the errors of the past,” he said. “If we don’t win together, we will be condemned to lose together,” Erdogan, who released two white doves into the crowd, said.

The IHD’s recent report on the human rights violations during the serhildan (posted yesterday on Rastî) are in direct contradiction to these statements, and any win or loss referred to by Erdogan has nothing to do with Kurds, but everything to do with AKP’s prospects in the next elections. I am willing to bet that there’s another reason for Erdogan’s visit to Amed today, which is that he wanted to prevent Osman Baydemir from travelling to Hewlêr for the opening of the KRG Parliament, in which a single Kurdish administration has been approved. Whether or not this will become reality is another question, but the whole symbology of DTP politicians, including the mayor of the capital of Greater Kurdistan, being present for a vote of Southern Kurdish unity is something the Turks oppose.

Let’s also consider the fact that DTP politicians asked to meet with Erdogan in the wake of the serhildan, but Erdogan emphatically refused any meeting. Now, conveniently in time for the opening of the Kurdish Parliament, an event Osman Baydemir planned to attend, Erdogan makes his second ever visit to Amed. Since it wouldn’t look good for Osman to be denied permission to go to Hewlêr, and since it looks better for Erdogan to appear in Amed, no doubt the order was given by the pashas that Erdogan should agree to meet with Osman, perhaps for a couple of minutes.

Erdogan also took the opportunity to deliver the pashas’ message about attacking the children of the TSK. Why are the families of the TSK in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan anyway? I mean, this is as ridiculous as it would have been for the US Army to bring the families of GI’s to Vietnam, and if anything happened to those families, it would have been the clear fault of the US Army for allowing such a stupid policy. On the other hand, Erdogan was the one to redefine the boundaries of the war:

“For those who keep their children in the streets or allow them to be used by them, their tears tomorrow will be in vain.” He [Erdogan] has insisted that “Our security forces will do what is necessary against those who have become the pawns of terrorists, whoever they are, even if they are women or children”.

It’s okay, Erdogan. We know you are only an errand boy.

A GREAT READ: Again, from Onnik Krikorian at OneWorld Multimedia, there is a great post about the Yezidis in Armenia and Kurdish nationalism, including a discussion of Yezidi PKK şehîds and support for PKK: Kurdish Nationalism in Armenia.

Absolutely fascinating!

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