CEHŞ OF THE NORTH

“Victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay it’s price.”
~ Sun Tzu.

There is one aspect of Turkey’s EU accession process that has been totally overlooked or, rather, ignored, by the wider media, and that is the status of the Koy Korucular–Village Guards–the jash of the North.

The tactic of divide-and-conquer has been used against Kurds by all of the enemies of Kurdistan, but nowhere are the lines of this tactic so clearly drawn as in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, by the role of the Korucular. Established by the TC in 1985, the Korucular system has pitted Kurd against Kurd, and has served the state’s interest by maintaining instability and lawlessness in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. In fact, the Korucular system has been far more helpful in destroying Turkish-occupied Kurdistan than any other single policy devised toward that end. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch called upon Interior Minister Aksu to end the Village Guards:

For more than eighteen years Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been receiving reports of violations by village guards—murders, rapes, robberies, house destruction, and illegal property occupation, among others. We have received, from various sources, numerous complaints relating to village guards, not all of which we have confirmed first-hand.

HRW states that the prevalence of complaints and incidents against the Korucular include the following: murder, aggravated assault, occupation of land or homes of IDP’s, criminal behavior ranging from rape to theft, and instigation of blood feuds and tribal conflict. The threatening presence of Korucular alone is enough to deter IDP’s from returning to their homes and land, and the requirement for returnees to become Korucular themselves makes them vulnerable to attack by HPG. As stated as early as 1995 by the PKK, the Korucular, as a paramilitary organization of the state, are legitimate targets.

A recent Korucular attack on returning IDP’s made it into Western news, and this type of state-sponsored terrorism is not unusual. From The Village Voice:

That night, the four men returned from the darkness with automatic rifles. They had come to deliver a violent message to their mortal enemies, the Tanguner and Tekin families.

In all, the families comprised over 30 people. They were unarmed and surrounded. Ugrak’s muddy village square, where they stood, offered no place to hide. Except for one car, their convoy of rented vehicles—two pickup trucks and a minivan—had already left.

Eight years ago, a government-backed paramilitary campaign forced the Tanguners and Tekins to flee their homes here. Their houses and fields were taken over by the very people who advanced now from the shadows. This cold-blooded welcome was no shock. The men with guns were old adversaries, even older neighbors.

Ugrak is an isolated speck of a place. It clings to two sides of a hill rising out of a vast prairie in the southeastern reaches of the country, about four hours’ drive from Iraq. Fields and pastures roll endlessly in all directions. For centuries, the Tanguners and Tekin clans lived on one side of the hill, the Guclu clan on the other.

The armed men were Guclus. As their victims remember it, they approached with Kalashnikovs raised, and screamed: “What business do you have coming back here?” There was an instant of tense silence. Then, thunderous gunfire erupted.

Those who were not immediately shot dove for cover, heads to the ground. The smell of gun smoke fused with the taste of soil. Lead seared through flesh. Bullets clanged as they tore into the Renault-12 Toros sedan. The car exploded like an emerging sun.

Only after local authorities arrived could the unscathed among the Tanguners and Tekins find the courage to treat their wounded. They also took stock of their dead. Agit Tekin, who was seven, was killed instantly by a gunshot to the eye. Nazin Tekin, a clan elder, and Ikram Tekin, 45, had also died. Four others were rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

Another article, on the same attack, can be found at Scotsman.com, and it provides an excellent background discussion on the Korucular, with a perspective on why certain Kurds chose to become Korucular:

“Before the war, the Guclus were poor,” says Sait Tanguner, a relative of the Tekins who was present at the shooting. “War brought them wealth and power. They preferred to murder us rather than to give us back the houses and fields they stole when we were forced out.”

[ . . . ]

A kilometre down the track leading to the main road, out of sight of the military escort that has shadowed us since our arrival, the taxi driver cuts his engine and turns to face us. The inhabitant of a neighbouring village until war forced him to leave, he has known the Guclus for years. “They’re bad people, very bad,” he says. He pauses, looking for a word strong enough to express the full force of his contempt. “Korucular,” he spits. Militia men.

This belief that the war brought “wealth and power” to a small segment of rural Kurdish society is confirmed by an IDP support group (Goc-Der):

As the Head of the Diyarbakır branch of Göç-Der stated: “the weak have a tendency to become village guards. I am not just talking about economic weakness, but also weakness in terms of social power. They might have thought it a way to react to the authority of the ‘strong.’ In that regard, village guardianship might have transformed social relations in favor of the ‘weak’ in places where small estate ownership is the predominant form.”58 The families without guns and jobs and with relatively small land-holdings might have found an economic and social benefit in the system.59

The same paper discusses reasons why most Kurds preferred to leave their homes rather than become Korucular. First, they view the state as weak, something that it certainly is in the rural areas, where most people don’t even speak Turkish, where they have little to no day-to-day contact with the state, and from where most gerîlas come. The second reason is connected to the fact that most gerîlas do come from the rural areas, and it is that the Kurds in those areas are extremely reluctant to take up arms against their own “children”–gerîlas–or to deny them assistance, such as food, if the gerîlas should ask for it. These facts confirm another point made in the Scotsman article:

But Celal Baslangic, the expert on Kurdish issues for the liberal daily newspaper Radikal, draws different conclusions. He points to the existence of a secret plan for the south-east, drawn up in 2000 by the National Security Council, a committee of senior cabinet ministers and military top-brass meeting monthly to oversee government policy. “Judging by the official unwillingness to announce clearly which areas are still out of bounds, I suspect this plan aims to prevent the resettlement of little villages in remote areas where PKK support used to be strongest.”

In places where PKK support used to be the strongest, the state is very weak. Hence the enforced removal of the populations to larger cities, where the state can better control them. Indeed, the whole purpose of state security forces in cities like Amed, is not to “protect and serve,” but to control the population. Therefore, the state has no incentive to see to the return of those Kurds the state forced from their homes.

The Korucular are invisible, as far as accountability goes. They fall under the Gendermerie Command in practice–making up some 40 percent of the Gendermerie personnel– yet they are not mentioned in any law which prescribes Gendermerie structure or duties (See the HRW letter for more on this). Of course, this is convenient because it allows the Turkish government a certain level of plausible deniability when the Korucular get into trouble, something that has happened quite often in the past and continues to happen. It also permits axas to negotiate the terms of Korucular duties and pay with the government, thus strengthening the position of such axas, maintaining the intolerable status quo, and extending impunity for crimes committed by the Korucular.

With respect to impunity, it is interesting to note that the Guclus, who attempted to murder the returning Tanguners and Tekins, are still undergoing trial in Amed, four years after the attack at Ugrak, while the Semdinli bombers have already been convicted for their crime, not even a year after the event.

This arrangement between the Ankara regime and the axas creates a relationship with the activities of the Deep State, something that was revealed during the Susurluk scandal. The sole survivor of the Susurluk accident, Sedat Bucak, was one of the axas who benefitted greatly from the Korucular system, and his example illuminates this dirty, covert world. As a feudal lord in command of tens of thousands of Korucular, he received arms from the state, the excess of which have entered the world of illegal arms-trafficking. Bucak also received the pay of the Korucular, pocketing a percentage for himself before dispersing the funds. The 20,000 to 30,000 Korucular under men like Bucak are also instrumental in facilitating the Turkish government’s lucrative drug-trafficking industry. In their letter, HRW cites further examples of the Korucular connection to drug-trafficking:

Narcotics arrests of village guards are occasionally reported—for example, two village guards were found with five kilograms of heroin (with a wholesale value of U.S.$750,000 according to the U.S. Drugs Enforcement Agency) at Bölücek village in Þýrnak in 2002—but the national press tends not to report the subsequent trials. Nevertheless, Turkish government officials have admitted that village guards are very involved in the narcotics trade. According to an Interior Ministry statement, reported in Cumhuriyet (Republic) of January 26, 1999, 1,073 village guards were convicted of drugs smuggling between 1985 and 1999.

It is the powerful axas, the Korucular and the Ozel Timler, all connected to the Deep State, that are the only ones to benefit from keeping everything the way it has been. They have absolutely no interest in democratic change. They do, in fact, actively work against genuine democracy. In spite of this, there is no great outcry against these forces from the EU. Instead, Joost Lagendijk, Cem Ozdemir, and their ilk in the European Parliament, by their silence, cover up the abuses and atrocities of these covert networks. Neither has the US ever used its influence against its ally to speak out against this firmly entrenched obstacle to democratic change.

Is this because neither the Turkish government, nor the EU and US, think that Kurds are worthy of democracy?

HRW, several TMBB (Turkish parliament) commissions, the UN, PACE and the ECHR are among those organizations that have repeatedly called for an end to the Korucular system yet, as the HRW letter notes, 15 successive Turkish governments have done nothing to end the system. After renewed government repression following the Amed serhildan, this year’s report to the UN representative on displaced persons, published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, in conjunction with the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, states that if the current situation in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan continues:

. . . a durable and sustainable solution to the internal displacement problem in Turkey cannot be achieved without a peaceful end to the Kurdish conflict and a process of reconciliation, which would require – among other things – addressing issues of justice, and the disarmament and social rehabilitation of PKK members and government-employed village guards alike.

In spite of the overwhelming evidence against the Korucular, it looks like they will be further rewarded for their part in helping to maintain repression and lawlessness, from The New Anatolian:

A consensus between the General Staff, Interior Ministry and Defense Ministry was reached to grant the right of retirement to village guards without them having to make premium payments into the government system, reports said yesterday.

The bill stipulates a raise in the wages of village guards, who currently get YTL 400 per month [approx. 235 USD–Mizgîn], to be determined by the government. Under the bill, village guards would be able to retire after working a certain number of years at the post.

The retirement system stipulated in the bill isn’t extended to other civil servants or

workers.

The bill, which would affect some 60,000 village guards, will be brought to Parliament before it goes on recess.

This bill, along with the approval of the new anti-terror bill draft, clearly indicates that the fascists are consolidating their side in their renewed war against the Kurdish people. In the absence of any strong, practical international pressure against the Ankara regime to remove the cancer of the Korucular from Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, or to insist on genuine democratic practices on the part of the West’s fascist ally, the only hope for freedom lies with the HPG and YJA.

On a final note, perennial Kurdish bad boy, Osman Baydemir, joins the ranks of DTP politicians like Abdullah Demirbas, who got himself in trouble with the Ankara regime for speaking about multiple cultures, from Reuters, with TDN censorship:

A mayor in Turkey’s troubled Southeast could face up to 18 months in prison over comments he made about the country’s ethnic minorities, according to an indictment seen by Reuters on Friday.

[ . . . ]

Under the new charges, Baydemir is accused of “humiliating” the public with remarks about racial and regional differences in Turkey, a taboo for Turkish nationalists who like to stress the common identity of all the country’s citizens.

“Each ethnic group must be able to take part in public life with his or her own identity,” Baydemir was quoted as saying in an interview published in Tempo magazine in January.

He is expected to attend the first court hearing on July 7.

You go, Osman! It is Kurds like you who are lions in the political battle.

UPDATE ON RASHEED QAMBARI, AHMED ABDULLAH AND AMIR RASHEED: The AP has a report out all over the place today, which you can see here, courtesy of CBS News, and there is another from the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Tomorrow, 26 June, is the scheduled sentencing of the three, and it will be something to watch for.

To the Kurds of Harrisonburg, particularly the families of Qambari, Abdullah and Rasheed, my thoughts and best wishes are with you. SERKEFTIN!

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