CAFER – ErdoIan and the Kurdish problem: one step forward, two steps back

ErdoIan and the Kurdish problem: one step forward, two steps backRecent words from President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan about how andquotthere is no Kurdish problem What is it that the Kurds are even lacking?andquot were very surprising to those who have been doubtful yet hopeful that a peaceful solution can be found for this topic. In general, ErdoIanand#39s words were interpreted by many as being a pointed message to the more nationalist of factions in the run-up to the June elections.

And as we all know, this is not the first time ErdoIan has done such a thing itand#39s a tendency of his to make such statements right before every critical election period. Similarly, right before the presidential election, he made some pointed statements that wound up re-enlivening a lot of preconceived ideas about Armenians, while also underscoring his own Turkishness and Sunni-ness.

While there is little question that ErdoIanand#39s words are aimed at voters, I do not think that this time, they will be sufficient to draw the publicand#39s attention away from the actual issues at hand. Here is ErdoIanand#39s real aim: That no one should know, see, hear about or speak about who is shouldering the responsibility for Turkeyand#39s problems.

Yes, this is what really lies behind his words about how andldquothere is no Kurdish problemandrdquoIn 1924, the very existence of the Kurds was denied. Then, there was a systematic assimilation policy that aimed to andldquoTurkifyandrdquo the Kurds.

Any uprisings on the part of the Kurds were crushed, bloodily if necessary. At the same time, there was some careful tinkering with the religious sensitivities of the general populace, while tools provided by the Religious Affairs Directorate were used to keep peopleand#39s religious beliefs under state control.

While all this was happening, religion became poisoned via nationalism and state-ism The beliefs of the Alevis were not recognized. And society, over time, became handicapped by a sort of official ideology and mentality of denial.

While there was much official talk of unity and togetherness, any real chance of such things was destroyed through official ideology.In the end, though, the ideology of denial went bankrupt.

And the social engineering project — heralded by so many as andldquomodernizationandrdquo — wound up collapsing. Kurds never turned into Turks.

Alevis never became Sunni. And Sunnis never gave up their connections to religion.

Yes, Kemalist attempts to impose from on high fell apart. But in the wake of this, Turkey was unable to bring about democratic reforms in harmony with its ethnic, religious and cultural realities.

And now we see it stuck somewhere in-between we see this reflected in the positions taken by both the entire Justice and Development Party (AKP) and ErdoIan, who flounder around in this in-between area And this reality is also manifested so clearly in the example of the Kurdish problems and where they stand these days.In the greater world we inhabit, denying or refusing to recognize peopleand#39s ethnic, religious or cultural identities is seen as fascism For this reason, then, it was never going to be sustainable for Turkey to carry on with or defend the whole andquotThere are no Kurds, there is no Kurdish languageandquot view.

It was inevitable that we would arrive at the point of recognizing the de facto existence of Kurds. But in the end, we also see now that the de facto recognition of the Kurds is not to be confused with any sort of permanent peace or solution.

Speaking Kurdish is no longer banned, nor is producing a Kurdish-language newspaper, or broadcasting in Kurdish. But native-language education is still not recognized as a andldquoright.

andrdquo And Kurdish expectations and demands for status recognition are not even on the near horizons of agenda talks. Still no steps are taken to try and make amends for some of the painful episodes created by the Kurdish problems there is no move made to reconcile with or face up to in any way some of the injustices and unfairness faced by the Kurds.

In short, none of the crucial steps that might truly bring about social peace are being taken. Thousands of murders remain unsolved.

Millions of people will still never be able to return to their original homes, which were lost when villages were burned down. Then there are all those who were tortured, all the families that were scattered.

Some 40,000 people lost their lives. And thousands are still either in prison or in the mountains.

None of this is stuff that we can just pretend is not important or hope to forget. And we are not going to remain silent just because it doesnand#39t work for ErdoIan right now, politically speaking.

There has never been any consistency in President ErdoIanand#39s words or actions when it comes to Kurdish issues. And this is the main reason why Kurds do not trust himIn short, the dark boldness we have seen reflected in the eyes of ErdoIan and his AKP when it comes to topics directly related to the protection of their rule and power (as with the allegations of bribery and corruption) is equaled only by the cowardice they show when it comes to issues that concern this countryand#39s peace, democracy and freedom.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman