The friends of Kurds should be critical
Within the span of just a week, two terror attacks have killed dozens of police, soldiers and civilians, first in central Istanbul and then in Kayseri. The blast in Istanbul felt like an earthquake in my flat, which is located just a 10-minute walk from the site of the explosions. No, the worst is not the safety concerns or the shock at the events but the feelings of hopelessness, uncertainty and gloom.
It is certain that the politics of the “war on terrorism” is no remedy for the Kurdish problem, since the Kurdish issue is not a matter of security but a political one. Unfortunately, the governing party insists on denying this fact and is following the steps of the previous ones, so much so that the circumstances are turning out to be worse than before in many respects, as many Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) politicians are currently under arrest, with government politicians promising that “the process will continue.”
Nevertheless, it is also the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) strategy of terror and violence which legitimizes and justifies the politics of security and therefore undermines democratic politics. We have to admit that there is no space left for democratic politics in Turkey not only because of authoritarian state/government politics but also because of the Kurdish politics of violence.
Leaving aside democratic politics, terror attacks, or “armed struggle” as they call it, endangers social peace and paves the way for a nationalist backlash and possible civil war. As Kurdish aggression ruins the credibility of democratic politicians and democrats, the reluctance of democrats who support Kurdish rights and freedoms to denounce the violent ways of Kurdish politics further tarnishes the image of democrats and weakens their political position. The same goes for the “Western friends” of Kurdish rights; those who prefer to turn a blind eye to the shortcomings of Kurdish aggression do not help the Kurdish cause or democratic struggle in Turkey. On the contrary, this attitude further triggers the rise of anti-Western skepticism, nationalism, militarism and enmity toward Kurds, who are seen as pawns of Western powers. The Western friends of Turkey and Kurdish rights and freedoms must try to influence both sides in peaceful and democratic ways. The Western allies of Turkey are right to criticize authoritarianism in Turkey, but their patronizing attitude toward the Turkish state/government on one hand and their apologetic attitude toward the Kurdish movement on the other only invoke an anti-democratic backlash.
As someone who is a strong supporter of Kurdish rights and freedoms, I think that the friends of Kurds can only help them by being critical of their politics as well in the name of defending democratic politics. The fear of justifying militaristic and security-centered Turkish state politics has long stopped us from criticizing Kurdish politics, but no more. Under the circumstances, we are unable to make calls for peace not only because of Turkey’s draconian anti-terror laws and their harsh implementation under emergency law, but also because those who claim to fight for Kurds have lost the moral superiority. The Western supporters of Kurds should also take the matter seriously if they really care for the future of the Kurds and, indeed, of everybody who longs to live in a more democratic and peaceful country.