NEGATIVE PEACE

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for someone else’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.'”
~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Well, well, well, it appears that Erdogan was under orders not to say anything more than “Roj baş” to Amed mayor Osman Baydemir on Sunday. Osman had cancelled his trip to Hewlêr in order to remain in Amed for Erdogan’s visit and I suspect, since Osman and other DTP politicians had wanted to meet with Erdogan in mid-April, that Osman was hoping to have a meeting.

It didn’t happen. Why? Two reasons come to mind. First is the fact that Erdogan went to Amed for an AKP meeting and I suspect he wanted to rally the troops, so to speak, for possible early elections. The idea of early elections has been wafting through the media lately. In connection with this, Erdogan probably wanted to test the water and get an idea of how AKP stands in The Region, if there are early elections. The level of AKP strength would, naturally, give Erdogan an idea of when a call for early elections would be optimal for AKP.

The second reason is somewhat related to the first. Osman Baydemir has been a popular mayor and DTP has been visible, especially since the Semdinli incident, which makes DTP a threat to predominately Turkish parties in The Region. What politician wants to be upstaged by a more popular, local politician? This is the superficial read of the situation, though. I think there may be a deeper purpose to Erdogan’s continued refusal to meet with anyone from DTP and that purpose comes from the pashas. Since the Semdinli incident, not only has DTP appeared more popular, it has also become a target for other incidents, incidents which begin to touch on the tradition of black operations in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan.

There have been attempts to prosecute DTP politicians for supporting Roj TV, for speaking Kurdish, for sending Newroz cards that have Kurdish, Turkish and English greetings–the Kurdish greetings are the problem here–and DTP politicians had begun to receive death threats in the mail from suspicious addresses. Since the serhildan, DTP politicians have been arrested en masse. The goal of all this, I suspect, is to send DTP down the same road that all other pro-Kurdish parties have been sent by the state, and that is the road to illegality. The state is preparing to do away with DTP, just as it did with HADEP and just as it did with DEHAP. DTP is too popular and too Kurdish, although the public reasons for outlawing it will be the same as before: it will be called “separatist” and “terrorist.”

Time will tell.

In the meantime, Mehmet Ali Birand has something worth taking a look at over at TDN. As usual, Mehmet and I come to completely different conclusions about things, but he does come up with some truth every once in a while. Mehmet seems to think that Erdogan is going to use a more-carrot-less-stick approach to the Kurdish problem that Turkey created for itself.

Mehmet says Erdogan’s speech was directed to the people, which I find extremely difficult to believe, given that Erdogan was speaking to an AKP provincial convention. This means that the only people Erdogan was speaking to were AKP people. He won’t talk to DTP people and he won’t talk to Kurds, but he certainly did talk to AKP people. All you had to do was watch the video on Roj TV, of Erdogan speaking in Amed, to see that he wasn’t talking to the people. Which puts Mehmet’s list of Erdogan’s talking points in a whole new light:

He [Erdogan] said nothing about the PKK, concentrating on how they had improved the lot of the ordinary people.

He asked if today was better than yesterday.

He talked about the increase in money in the pockets of ordinary people.

He promised an even better future.

Instead of violence and blood, he talked about daily lives.

He talked about how the new investments in the region would make their lives better.

Promises, promises. What did Kurds hear last August?

Mehmet thinks it was wise that Erdogan said these things to the (AKP) people. I think it was wise too, because if Erdogan had said those things to the real people, to the Kurds of Amed and, by extension, to the Kurds of all Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, there probably would have been violence and blood. All of these talking points are an insult to the people. These points are so far removed from the reality of the situation that they had to be composed by the MGK for propaganda consumption. The serhildan itself was an expression of the reality, of the frustration with the fact that nothing has been done for the region during the entire history of the TC. This is not part of any new plan and it’s not part of any new anything. It is the same old denial, the same old willful ignorance that has guided Ankara’s policies toward Kurds forever.

And that brings us to the second part of Mehmet’s opinion, in which he quotes retired pasha Atilla Ates, and the funniest thing about all that Ates says is that he is not the only one to say it. I have said it over and over again:

He said the peace between 1999 and 2005 was wasted and that not enough attention was paid to satisfy the demands of the people. No social, economic or political measures were taken.

These are facts known by all.

For six or seven years, we forgot about everything. We thought PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s incarceration had solved the Kurdish problem. We just ignored the problems that were there for all to see.

Exactly, and time lost can never be recovered. I can’t even go so far as to characterize this lost time as “peace,” because it wasn’t peace. It was a quiet period or, perhaps, a negative peace, a mere temporary cessation of hostilities. People would say, “Ah! Things have gotten better!” but they hadn’t. Time simply had a cold spell, a solid freeze, and the proof of that is the fact that the black operations and repression of the 1990’s were so easily resumed last summer. This became abundantly clear on March 28, 2005 in Amed. Within days, the same tactics had spread throughout Kurdistan under Turkish occupation and with a vengeance to make up for lost time.

That everyone was “shocked by the escalation of violence” is the indicator that no one, not Erdogan, not the pashas, not the Turkish public and not the international community, has any idea of what the situation for Kurds is really like. As Mehmet reports that Ates says:

He noted that we do not know anything about the people who live in the region, adding that there was no effort to get to know them, either.

Exactly so. I think that most people who go to Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, whether they are Turk or not, go and look but they never see. They do not go with a heart for the people, because if you go and do more than simply look around, if you actually see, there are plenty of signs to read and the message is very clear. So when Osman Baydemir goes to Dicle University and tells the student protestors that they are brave and he understands why they protest, but please stop the violence, he does so because he sees. Or when the DTP mayor of Dogubayazit, Mukkades Kubilay, tells the outside world that her city needs help in the middle of a bird flu crisis, because the Turkish government has left the city in poverty, she does so because she sees.

Both of these people, and others, see deeply, not with the eyes, but with the heart, and at certain times and places in history, it is seeing with the heart that renders the clearest vision of reality. These are the people that Ankara refuses to listen to.

At least we know we are no longer enjoying a negative peace.

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