Burning schools

Burning schools

The other day I had lunch with my friend Kurdish businessman Mustafa Şirin at Hürriyet. He is from Diyarbakır. He defends his Kurdish identity; he is a reasonable man and a careful observer.

The topic moved to the “Nevruz reception” held in Istanbul on March 17 by Kurdish businessmen. There, İsmail Beşikçi spoke more or less like this:

“The state prevents Kurds from being rich and the Kurdish bourgeoisie from developing.”

Şirin asked Beşikçi, “Did you not accuse Kurdish businessmen who would take loans from banks, who would franchise and who would do business as the ‘agent class’ years ago?”

Beşikçi answered, “I have changed. Can I not change?”

Class of agents
As a matter of fact, Beşikçi, in the provocative book he published during an ominous year in 1991 titled “Interstate Colony Kurdistan,” wrote rich Kurds were pro-state and he accused them of belonging to the “agent class.” For Beşikçi, the agent class was not limited to landlords but also Kurds who were involved in modern professions and activities such as “businessmen, contractors, top bureaucrats, civil servants, students, writers and journalists” were also included in this concept. (p. 63, 93)

Now, he has changed his mind and said that the state was obstructing the Kurdish bourgeoisie. It does not make any sense to make generalizations this way or that way with political prejudice without reviewing comparative economic history and current economic data. But, this is not my topic today. I want to present you a story of the ANF, the news agency of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), dated August 14:

“KCK executive committee member Duran Kalkan called on all Kurds not to do military service, to quit government jobs and not to send their children to school.”

The PKK is forcing that this be put into practice by bombing schools.

‘Do not go to school’ campaign
People have not responded to the “do not go to school” call. They have not responded to the “serxildan” (rebellion) and “separate Friday prayers” calls anyway all along. The civil servant continues his job, the student goes to school and the businessman does his work. Let’s leave past events; in just the one month since schools were opened on Sept. 10, the number of PKK attacks, bombings and arson in schools has increased.

Even though the overwhelming majority of Kurds wants their kids to be educated, wants investments to flow to the region and wants welfare to rise together with democracy, the PKK meets this will of the Kurds with bombs. Kalkan criticizes Kurds who “think of saving their lives by sending their kids to Turkish schools.” The bombing of schools is an attack on these millions of Kurdish families’ will.

These attacks are examples demonstrating what kind of a totalitarian pressure hell will be set up if the Stalinist system called “democratic autonomy” rules the region.

Good Kurd, bad Kurd
In the eye of this totalitarian mentality, a “bad Kurd” is any Kurd who goes to school, who graduates, who succeeds in life, who starts a company, who invests, who creates jobs, who is involved with art and philosophy, who rejects blood and death, who holds on to life. They call them “agent class, collaborators, traitors.” They publish lists or send KCK members to threaten them.

The “good Kurd” in the eyes of the totalitarian mentality, as is stated in PKK documents, is not the “one who goes to school” but the one who goes to patriotism training, in other words only the militants who go the mountain to be conditioned to kill and die. This is the reason they look down on schools, companies, jobs, careers, art, literature and free thought.

Bourgeoisie is good
The development of the bourgeoisie in any society means the development of education, economic rationalism, production and holding on to life. It inevitably strengthens liberal democratic values.

With the development of the bourgeoisie in the region both democracy and welfare will develop, and the regional economy will integrate with all of Turkey more strongly. The PKK is trying to prevent that. The de facto and the ideological barricade in front of the Kurdish bourgeoisie is this.

Taha Akyol is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on October 12. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.