Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kurdish people reiterate their position

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Letif Serhilan

In Recent Irish times, a letter from the Turkish embassy had tried to demonstrate that Turkey is one of the most progressed democratic states in Middle East. The Turkish ambassador Altay Cengizar (September 20th) is critical of Irish Times editorial the Turkish constitutional referendum. He feels that “deep and lasting changes that have taken place in Turkey” were not given just mention. Very many of these changes have been wrought through the sacrifice and struggle of the Kurdish people and their leadership, which has been to the forefront in the drive for democracy, modernisation and social change in Turkey over the past 30 years.

I too share Mr Cengizar’s abhorrence of “anachronisms” and “worn-out clichés”, such as one flag, one language, and one nation. Kurdish is not recognised as an official language, there are no schools in the Kurdish language, nor do Kurds exist as a nation in the current Turkish state. Turkey must embrace the new Kurdish reality, recognise the ever-increasing support for the Kurdish Freedom Movement – shown again by the widespread boycott of the referendum by Kurdish voters – and begin dialogue with the true Kurdish representatives, including PKK and its leader Abdullah Ocalan. Turkey at this state has tried every single trick to avoid talking to Kurdish leaders. The old attitudes must change towards the Kurdish Freedom movement. Instead of going to Hewler talking to Mr Talabani, Or CIA agents in order to try to push another military operation against the PKK camps in Southern Kurdistan (Turks called it northern Iraq) what they should be doing is to go to Imrali and Ocalan: what the best way forward for both Turks and Kurds alike? How many times Turkey collaborated with Iran, other states agents in the region and they crossed over to Qendil mountains, bombed the place day in, day out? What are the results at the end? Cost Turkey billions of Euros on those bombs. Plus many innocent civilians Kurds were killed. Enough is enough, its time for peace.

Turkey's current constitution was drafted and its ratification was rammed through by the repressive military junta that came to power through a military coup on September 12, 1980. As Human Rights Watch has noted, "Numerous provisions of the current [Turkish] constitution restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms, and a new constitution must be a priority." The current 'coup constitution,' as it is widely known, also contains an ethnic definition of citizenship that defines all citizens of Turkey as ethnic Turks. This has provided a legal foundation for unjust ethnic discrimination and repression of Kurds and other non-Turkish peoples. Kurdish nation believes that a new constitution must include a civic and non-ethnic definition of citizenship that upholds the rights of all communities, including the Kurds.

For true democracy to take hold, other Turkish laws, especially the Anti-Terror Law and Law of 2006, which have been extensively criticized by international human rights organizations, must be abolished, as should the notorious Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code on "insulting Turkishness". These provisions provide a legal framework for the criminalization of peaceful, non-violent dissent, and are frequently used to facilitate state repression of journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists.

Kurdish people reiterate their position that the Turkish government's refusal to support a peaceful, democratic, negotiated solution to the Kurdish issue is at the heart of the country's ongoing crisis of democracy and human rights. Turkey will not know peace as long as it refuses to recognize the basic democratic rights of its citizens. The Turkish state has refused to recognise the PKK's numerous unilateral ceasefires and proposals for a negotiated solution, and has engaged in mass arrests of Kurdish political activists even while claiming it is searching for a negotiated settlement.

Turkish government should immediately cease its military and political operations against the Kurdish political movement. The EU and US can contribute to peace efforts by ending their criminalization of the Kurdish movement and by halting arms shipments to Turkey.