Speak up, 'Western Kurds'

The "Kurdish problem" has been a headache for this state since the 1925 rebellion of Sheikh Said. It played a determining role in the 1930s in the "closure" of the critical Mosul case, not in Turkey's favor.

Turkey, which has suffered economic crises from the 1980s until now, has spent at least $300 billion fighting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) despite the latter's scant resources.

Causing bloodshed throughout the 1990s, resulting in the deaths of 40,000 people and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to migrate from their homes, the Kurdish problem is at the root of many problems that have reared their heads in Turkey, including problems having to do with law and order that arise due to this mass migration to Turkish metropolises.

The Kurdish problem has caused bloodshed throughout Turkey's republican history, and if these provocations, these insincere approaches and this resistance to a solution continue, it seems likely that even more blood will be shed. The Kurdish problem -- which, when mixed with feelings of rage in the streets, began to be referred to as "these Kurds" -- might once more be an obstacle in Turkey's path.

And on top of that, during what sort of a period?

In a period where the state has begun to do away with, first legally and then in practice, its "denial policies," and in a period where for the first time the military and the civilian government are working in harmony.

No one with a mind and a conscience can equate the situation today with the days in March 1992 when Süleyman Demirel said, "I am familiar with the Kurdish reality" and then did nothing about it.

A period when a Turkish prime minister has been able to call the problem by its name and wherein all of the civilian and military elements of the state have not shied away from signing historical reforms in this field.

Once more, the Kurdish problem is erecting a wall to block the path of a period in which important reforms have been signed off on to make the country more democratic, a period in which the country has come face to face with "historical opportunity."

There's no trace of good intentions to be found amongst the Kurdish movement's legitimate spokespeople. What you can find is people who are overjoyed, saying "the initiative is over," and others still who hope that a solution will be found by throwing Molotov cocktails at public buses.

Setting the PKK aside, it's necessary to ask the vast majority of Kurds, the "silent Kurds," a question: What do you want, and what do you have to say about everything that's going on?

Those of you who say "I am a Kurd" and Kurds who "live together with Turks," what do you want?

Speak up already!

The Turkish state's step towards recognizing Kurdish identity, the reforms it has made, the initiative policies that it has, with effort and sincerity, tried to implement -- these are all proof of its will for a future of living together as well.The government is implementing these steps as a "state project"; there isn't this party or that party behind the initiatives but the "state." This is proof that Turks have the will for a future living together with Kurds.

Do Kurds have this desire as well?

If Kurds living in the East and Southeast aren't able to speak up for fear of pressure from the PKK, then the Kurds in the West should speak up. Western Kurds, speak up.

Let Turks see now that you also possess the will to live together with them. It is unconscionable to remain silent while seeing how the PKK's murders are attempting to undermine the initiative process.

It's time for those Kurds who have been silent for 25 years as part of a "let's-see-what's-going-to-happen-next" attitude to speak up.

It won't work anymore to say, "We don't support the PKK" and to not support parties that pursue the PKK line in politics -- this is no longer enough to warrant this silence.

It's time to show the entire world -- and more importantly, Turkey -- that there is a very thick line between Kurdishness and Kurdism.

We know that this line exists. But there's another reality before our eyes: The funerals for fallen soldiers that are starting to take place across the nation are making this thick line thinner -- and this is the real danger awaiting this country! If the Kurdish problem leads to a stop on the road of democratization, modernization and prosperity in Turkey, there will be a price to pay for this. This time, this price may be very heavy. The time is now for Kurds living in the "West" to speak up.

If Turks and Kurds truly are hand in glove, then it's time to show it. Will you remain silent after the PKK's bloody provocation in Tokat? Western Kurds, speak up already! This country has a great need for the voice that you will raise against the PKK now. Tomorrow may be far too late.

12 December 2009, Saturday
GÜRKAN ZENGİN