REALITY CHECK FROM AHMET TURK

“On TV I once saw a Kurd say, `Even if you get rid of the PKK, what will you do to their sisters, brothers and parents? A new group will take its place.’ I believe that the PKK or Ocalan aren’t the reasons but the results. And the results stem from reasons.”
~ Aysel Tugluk.

Very nice interview yesterday with DTP Chairman Ahmet Turk over at The New Anatolian, in spite of the annoying journalist repeatedly asking the same questions over and over.

Nice little story about Ahmet Turk’s name too. There’s so much history in that little explanation.

In spite of the fact that this was an interview, I got the feeling that Ahmet was talking to himself half the time. He managed to speak his piece about the recent DTP Congress and he seems to see it in a very positive light. However, the interviewer was more concerned with “terrorism” than with the outcome of the congress. But as much as the interviewer tried to tie DTP to Imrali or PKK in general, it didn’t work with Ahmet Turk. Like Cuma in his recent interview, Ahmet denied organic connections between DTP and PKK.

This goes back to the issue of the influence of PKK, in general, on the population of Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. If there are many points on which DTP and PKK sound the same, then it speaks more to the fact that both organizations are seeing the problem in the same light. I have said it before, that PKK has had a great influence on the political thinking of Kurds and managed to create dignity for Kurds by fighting back and showing Kurds that it is, indeed, possible to fight back with both the political struggle and the armed struggle.

Let’s look back to an interview with Ahmet Turk and the same journalist, Nursun Erel, from December, 2005, originally carried on TNA and now cached away on The Agonist:

TURK: If there wasn’t a Kurdish issue today, maybe the PKK wouldn’t exist, not even our party would exist. We’re a democratically established party. But in fact we have a mission to solve the issue. So in accordance with the same problem the PKK also gives the same messages. The same truth is expressed by two different bodies and they say that we have organic links, but it’s not true. We don’t have organic ties but we have a common stance and common demands and there’s a Kurdish issue that we’re both trying to solve.

But the PKK has been around for years, and they chose to seek a solution by arms. So it’s an existing reality. Without seeing this, acting as if there isn’t such a movement, where do we go? In fact, we must be more realistic. But once we declare the truth now, we become anathema.

Notice that Ahmet Turk states that DTP was considered anathema for expressing the same truth as PKK, and that was back in December, months before the Amed Serhildan. The problem is that the TC simply does not want to do the right thing as far as Kurds are concerned, a speculation that gains credence by the fact that nothing was done after Erdogan expended all that hot air in Amed last August, and after all the hot air he expended after the Semdinli bombing, and after the behavior of state security forces during and after the Amed Serhildan. Add to that the fact that the government did nothing during the 5-year PKK ceasefire, plus the one year grace period at the end of the ceasefire. After all of that, there has been nothing forthcoming from the government to begin a just reconciliation with the Kurdish people.

A lot of people believed that after OHAL, the state of emergency, was lifted, things were getting better, but that was merely an appearance based on the fact that PKK had pulled back so there was less for security forces to go after. Security forces never ended their aggression against HPG, mind you. HPG was simply not around in large numbers. This negative peace was a deception. It was an image, a facade, something that the TC could use to earn brownie points with the EU for accession purposes. The negative peace was only about image.

If we examine this new interview with Ahmet Turk, we see that while he wants to talk about substantive subjects, Nursun Erel is stuck on the superficial. The superficial revolves around three different themes of the interview. The first theme is that every word of Apo is an order. The second is the focus on slogans as substance with regard to the Kurdish situation on the part of the Turkish state and media. The third theme runs throughout, and might be thought of as the overarching theme of the interview. That theme is “terrorism.”

Back in December, the same interviewer attempted to force the idea that everything Apo says from Imrali is an order, in particular regarding Aysel Tugluk as leader of DTP. Apparently the only justification behind this claim was the fact that certain Kurdish circles were making the claim also. Ahmet Turk refutes it in the current interview by sensibly saying that Apo’s words were a reference to PKK’s long-standing policy of integrating women into all aspects of society as full and equal participants. On the subject of every-word-as-order, Ahmet says:

Well, it would be wrong to interpret his [Apo’s] messages as saying such-and-such a person should be the leader. You can’t asses all the words as the orders of someone.

What kind of society would take a leader’s every word to be an order? The ruling elite in Turkey is the miltary caste. When you are part of a society that is ruled by a military caste you get slogans like “Every Turk is born a soldier,” and all state propaganda, including the education system is ordered to the end of glorifying the ruling, military caste. In what kind of society do you get 75 to 85% of the population expressing complete trust in the military? I am willing to bet that in the US, you wouldn’t get that kind of a percentage expressing trust in the military on a good day.

In Turkey there is also the facade of democracy, a facade that has to be maintained so the lie of Turkey as a democracy is believed. That’s why the miltary caste speaks through politicians most of the time and the politicians know they must obey. Every word from the military is an order and failure to obey can be painful. It can even be fatal. Who could imagine that Westerners would take every single word of their presidents or prime ministers as orders? This simply does not happen in real democracies because they are places in which the same leaders are charicatured, lampooned and lambasted on a daily basis.

This is what I mean when I say that Ahmet’s reply to this claim is sensible. No one, except Turks, or Kurds who have assimilated official Turkish thinking in one way or another, to one degree or another, accept every single word from Apo as literal or as an order.

During Newroz, photos from Turkish-occupied Kurdistan were filled with DTP and KKK/PKK banners, and banners with Apo’s picture. No one seemed to notice this and I think it’s because, in the weeks leading up to Newroz, Turkish media and Turkish politicians worked themselves into a frenzy, threatening that Newroz would be a violent affair. I don’t know how many times I read disgustingly condescending statements like, “Our Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin should remember that they will be up a creek without a paddle if they so much as think of blowing their noses in a violent manner during Newroz.” I think they were actually hoping it would be violent; They were waiting for the moment to strike at the people.

Afterwards, all these pontificators were so relieved (or so disappointed), that Newroz was peaceful, that they forgot to obsess about all the visual slogans, the banners, in support of DTP and PKK that graced the celebrations. A few weeks later, when Turkish security forces’ provocations–including the use of chemical weapons to kill gerîlas–resulted in serhildan, the state and the media were so uptight and scared at thousands of pissed off Kurds taking to the streets, that they failed to notice the chanted slogans in support of PKK. Of course, there is alwayst the outside chance that they might not have noticed because they were too busy taking aim and shooting to kill demonstrators.

Yet when the same banners and the same slogans appear at the DTP Congress, those are the only things the state and media focus on. ETA and IRA representatives were present at the congress, providing an excellent opportunity for Turkish media to begin a public discussion of the possibility of negotiations between the state and PKK. But this opportunity didn’t happen because neither the Turkish state, nor its media lapdog, have any interest or intention of negotiating a peace for the Kurdish people. Instead of focusing on the many serious issues, they focus on slogans. They take a superficial approach to the problem they created, but until serious negotiations begin, you can forget about the EU.

There is a double assumption in this interview that is contained within the terrorism theme. The first is the assumption that there is no context for Kurds engaging in armed resistance. The massive human rights atrocities committed against them are not mentioned. There is a vague reference to thousands having died from terrorism, but no mention of who the real terrorists are. The second assumption is that Kurds are not worthy of the dignity of fighting back because they are not human, or at least not human enough to defend themselves. Hell, Kurds are not even considered human enough to vote according to their own wills:

For example when you check the results of the recent elections, you see that our party gets around 80 percent of the votes in certain big cities, but it’s surprising to see these votes drop to around 8 percent in the remote areas, like towns or villages. Because the gendarmerie is dominant in these areas, they put great pressure on those people, so they don’t express their will freely. For example during the campaign rallies, I was trying to visit some villages but the gendarmerie didn’t let me in. Can you imagine that I personally faced such an obstacle? I know in many cases even after my visit the gendarmerie goes into the houses and interrogate the people that had me there. Another issue is the village guards phenomenon, as there’s about 60,000 of them, and they’re all hired and conditioned to act against the Kurds.

Here we have a man like Ahmet Turk, who has been in the fight for many years, and old acquaintances are afraid to call him because the phones might be bugged, or they’re afraid to be seen with him because it might lose them their jobs or create other kinds of hardships, from the December interview:

Under the pressure of the state, village guards are widespread, these are the biggest obstacles to our party. For example if any Kurdish businessmen try to get close to this party they lose. Many people sympathetic to our party were branded PKK sympathizers, they were blackmailed, they were put onto hit lists, and they couldn’t win any government tenders, for example. So society is under this pressure. If you try to guess the number of totally independent people, you can be sure that they aren’t more than the 50 percent of all Kurds. If Turkey was a truly democratic country, we wouldn’t have this. I can give you various examples, while we were campaigning, the gendarmerie barred us many times from entering certain areas. Sometimes they were meeting with villagers and threatening them, saying if you vote for this party we’ll set all the houses here on fire. So if you consider all this, you can imagine the people who vote for us are people in fact risking their lives.

What the hell kind of democracy is that and who are the terrorists?

The Turkish state is not the only state, and Turks are not the only people, who refuse to place the Kurdish situation in context. Nor are these the only ones who are guilty of denying the humanity of Kurds by refusing to admit the legitimate Kurdish use of force for self-defense and to drive out the aggressor. Those who claim that there can only be a peaceful political solution are also guilty. If people are so certain that there can only be a peaceful political solution, why haven’t they achieved it yet? What are they waiting for? Let them go right now and end it, if they are so sincere.

The pacifists are not sincere; they are enablers of atrocities. They stand around doing nothing but wringing their hands, letting it all go on, year after year. Meanwhile, where were they during the ceasefire? Why weren’t they pressing peace with the regime then? Since they weren’t, why should we take them seriously now?

Reality check: There cannot be only a peaceful political solution for the Kurdish people under Turkish occupation because the regime is not interested in a peaceful political solution. The regime is not even interested in Kurdish-language children’s programming, so how can anyone believe that it wants any kind of solution?

The people on the ground know all this and they know who it is that woke them up and gave them back their dignity.

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