If only they could express their concerns, instead of aiming below the belt

If only they could express their concerns, instead of aiming below the belt

İSMET BERKAN iberkan@hurriyet.com.tr
For the first time, Turkey is seriously trying to solve the Kurdish issue, an issue that was handed over to us from the Ottomans, but which has had layers added during the republican era.

Moreover, this solution, if possible, will come not simply through the granting of some extra privileges to one section of society, but rather by granting all the rights and freedoms contained in the European Convention on Human Rights to all citizens. This is no small matter, if it can be achieved.

The possibility of this solution happening annoys and concerns some people among us, naturally. A change in the order we have gotten used to, even though we do have complaints about the order, may annoy us. This has something to do with human nature.

The above has happened in the ongoing “resolution process,” and more will come.

However, there is a serious problem in the style of how those with concerns express those annoyances.

This trouble is, let’s name it, “hitting below the belt.” In other words, it is the presenting of several things that do not exist as if they really do exist, generating new fears that are based on lies.

It’s one thing to express genuine concerns and, if these concerns are valid ones, to ask for their elimination. It is a different thing entirely to try to fuel fears instead of saying something directly, and to do this through lies, through things that do not exist, and through exaggeration.

Of course, there is also the pressure of “harming the process,” which is the opposite of “hitting below the belt when expressing concerns.” Obstructing the mentioning of certain things because they would “harm the process” is just as undesirable as making anti-propaganda based on lies. There is only one simple way to eliminate all the concerns: To speak the truth, to share information based on facts with the public and to try to address the wisdom of people, instead of their sentiments.

The following quotation belongs to Professor Şerif Mardin: “Western people solve their political problems by legalizing them. We first politicize even our legal problems, then make them topics of conflict.”

Let’s not do it this way this time. Let’s legitimize the Kurdish issue, which is a political issue. Let’s tackle it as a legal problem and solve it. The way the government proposes is to apply all the mandatory provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is a legal solution that anybody who is a peacemaker would not oppose. What harm can it cause to apply the European Convention on Human Rights?

Does a Turk equal a Kurd?

It is good to repeat this over and over again: A major portion of those who hit below the belt today about the “process” actually say that Turks and Kurds are not equal, that Turks are superior to Kurds.
Let’s ask ourselves this: Does a Turk equal a Kurd? Is there any harm in being equal?

It is no wonder that those who said one minute ago that, “‘Turk’ is not a superior identity” to say immediately afterward, “The concept of the Turkish nation also contains the Kurdish ethnicity.” They also try to create a definition for a supra-identity, casually inserting such confusing phrases as the “French nation,” or the “Spanish nation.”

They are unable to bring themselves to look racist, or to publicly act racist. For this reason they invent fabricated sociologic covers, but they are actually making racism pure and simple. They say, “Turks are superior to Kurds, we cannot accept being equal.”

Let’s ask ourselves continuously: Does a Turk equal a Kurd? Is there any harm in being equal?

İsmet Berkan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published April 5. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.