What 32,000 plus Kurds did NOT die for (II)

What 32,000 plus Kurds did NOT die for (II)

The government has an explanation as to why eight soldiers were killed during the latest outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attack in Hakkari: According to Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, the soldiers died because the PKK had fired without notice. To minimize the loss of human life, perhaps someone should urgently launch an appeal to the PKK that it send an email message to the General Staff headquarters before firing at Turkish soldiers. 

Over the past decade, the government has employed numerous measures to “finish off the PKK.” We laughed when the defense minister pledged to finish off the PKK once Turkish-made drones became operational (2010). When the interior minister hoped to convince the PKK men to surrender arms, we asked, “What about the millions of young Kurds who are not PKK members but wholeheartedly support the PKK?” In 2009 when I asked a friend from the anti-terror squad if he was optimistic about the PKK men giving up arms, he looked at me dismissively and answered my question with another question: “Would you like your newspaper to close down?”

When the foreign minister pinned his hopes on then-friendly Damascus “to control and extradite PKK men with Syrian passports,” we asked, “Why do you not start by controlling the PKK men with Turkish passports?” When the government ideologues discreetly broached the idea of building a historic Turkish-Kurdish bridge by reminding the PKK that “we are all Muslims,” we reminded them that “Muslim Kurds did not kill Muslim Turks during Ramadan to win a few cultural goodies.” 

Religion as a cement for the Turkish-Kurdish conflict would be like ice cream as a cement for a skyscraper in Sudan. Naturally this fanciful idea too had to go in the garbage when the interior minister recently declared the PKK men to be “Zoroastrians and pork-eating infidels.” 

We waited with cautious patience when the government pinned hopes on cross-border operations, on the famous trilateral mechanism with the United States and Iraq, and on Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani’s good offices – which it still does. We shook our heads in astonishment when a Justice and Development Party mayor publicly proposed that the PKK could be finished off if all Turkish men each took one Kurdish bride as a second wife. 

We were less patient when the government announced a Kurdish opening, scandalously closed it only to reopen it before finally resorting to arms as the principal instrument to deal with the Kurdish issue. We praised the government when it launched courageous political and cultural reforms; when it heavily invested in the southeast and built schools, hospitals, roads, houses and airports in the region. But we cautioned that all that has nothing to with the “heart of the matter.”

In 2009, I wrote in this column: “Sorry, but the PKK men have not killed and been killed because they are a bunch of sadomasochists. Nor have they killed to win some silly state or private broadcasting in their own language, a couple of Kurdish language institutes at universities [and now elective courses for high school students].” All that is good, but not the remedy. Evidence? Think about why Turkey was a much safer place before all those reforms.

This is how “What 32,000 plus Kurds did NOT die for (Hürriyet Daily News, Jan. 7, 2010)” closed:
“Sorry to remind you [gentlemen], but [32,000 plus] Kurds have not willingly died in what they saw as a holy war only to make sure their relatives can comfortably sit at home and enjoy state broadcasting in Kurdish, go watch a Kurdish play at a nearby theater, send their children to Kurdish-language courses, ensure that Kurdish inmates can communicate with their beloved ones in Kurdish or that Kurdish towns can sport their long-forgotten Kurdish names on signposts.”

Sadly, two-and-a-half years later, the same closing paragraph is an appropriate finale for this sequel too.