BERIL – To compare the suffering

To compare the sufferingWe frequently see people who make comparisons between their pains and those of others. When one speaks about how his nation has been the victim of genocide, others promptly tell stories about their grandparents massacred during a distant war When you speak about a particular conflict and point out the number of people who have died, there will always be someone who will give other examples about other conflicts during which more people have been killed.

This is not complicated however, one shouldn’t compare the suffering of different peoples. The fact that some people have been massacred somewhere sometime doesn’t justify that others, too, may be killed or expelled from their country.

Crimes of the past should never provide justification for new crimes.In Turkey, we have many examples of people comparing the suffering of distinct nations or ethnic and religious groups.

The debate around the Armenian genocide is the most commonly known example. Now, because of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, a new kind of comparison has appeared.

Many people have been killed during the Israeli military operation against Gaza A number of Turkish officials have even characterized this operation as a genocide attempt against the Palestinian people. Is Israel killing people in Gaza just because they are Palestinians or because they support Hamas? What is clear is that a number of war crimes are being committed.

Of course, the accusation of genocide is a serious one, especially when it is uttered by government officials against another country. This has been an additional topic of crisis between Turkey and Israel.

Now there are people who ask — if what Israel is doing right now is genocide — what we can call the events that occurred in the last decade of the Ottoman Empire. These people claim Turkey’s hands are not very clean either, so it mustn’t criticize Israel too much.

There are also some people who question why the government only cares when the victims are Palestinian. Iraq’s Turkmens are suffering as well, they say.

Or what about people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds who agonize because of ISIL, al-Nusra or Boko Haram?What is true is that we have a moral obligation to protest every time innocent people suffer because of radical organizations. Criticizing the Turkish government’s policy towards the Palestinians has a different meaning, though.

Some people suggest the government only cares when Sunni Muslims are suffering. In other words, the government is accused of pursuing a religion-based foreign policy aimed at exclusively defending the rights of Sunnis.

Every government has its priorities. One of the foreign policy priorities of the current Turkish government is to support the Palestinian cause, and this is not only about religion.

Besides, when several Turkish diplomats and their families are still being held hostage, how can the government openly attack ISIL, for example?Every massacre is important. The suffering of Iraqi Turkmens, Syrian Kurds or Iraqi Christians is all equally sad and they should all be condemned.

It is regretful that many people, including experienced politicians, are discussing how one group’s suffering is more noteworthy than another And this is not only about high politics. When a woman kills her husband, it is big news, but when it is the opposite, it is almost negligible.

When local clans fight with each other in southeast Turkey, or when people crossing the border are killed because they are supposedly “smugglers,” people accept all this as normal. But these are simply not normal.

There is an important ethical problem when one compares the suffering of distinct peoples, or condemns a tragic incident only when the victim is “one of us.” Unfortunately, this ethical problem exists all over the world, and in almost all political currents.

I wish all Muslims a happy Eid.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman