The Kurdish movement and the intellectuals

The Kurdish movement and the intellectuals

What kind of “self-rule” will the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) establish in the event that it gets hold of a certain geography?

This is a very important problem that unfortunately does not attract the attention of our intellectuals.

Many commentators that criticize terror are also not aware of it. In fact, it is impossible to understand some intellectuals who are holding the Turkish government responsible for terror simply in order to target the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Yet daily events cannot be properly understood without knowing the PKK’s ideology and the administration system that it has determined through congress decisions. Altan Tan from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) expressed this huge problem in his interview with daily Hürriyet the other day.

‘Communal democracy’ 

There are separatist movements in Spain, Canada, the United Kingdom and Belgium. They have all either dropped arms or never even resorted to arms in the first place as they had faith in democracy.

But the most critical problem in the Kurdish movement is the fact that the structure called the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which dominates the movement, is not democratic - rather it is “totalitarian.”

In the constitution it has published under the name “KCK Convention,” it openly rejects the idea of “Western democracy” and instead favors “communal democracy,” of a kind that considers individual freedoms to be degenerate.

It is essentially a totalitarian system that is a mixture of forms like the Stalin-type “people’s democracy” or Gaddafi-style “communities” models.

The reason they talk about “democratic autonomy,” rather than simply “autonomy,” is not a reference to Western democracy, but to underline the totalitarianism of “communal democracy.”

Can any lawyer from the HDP honestly say the “communal democracy” foreseen by KCK is democratic? 

When Altan Tan from the HDP says the Kurdish political movement must decide on “three issues,” he was talking about this problem of democracy/totalitarianism.

To live in a democratic Turkey in the Western sense, or to be divided through the shedding of blood? The Western bloc or the Middle East? Democratic procedures or violent means?

Yes, the Kurdish movement will either endorse Western style democracy or Middle Eastern despotism.

It looks like the fight against terror in Turkey is not only a problem of violence, but at the same time a problem of whether to open a space to Middle Eastern despotism.

This is a fundamental issue that intellectuals should take a stance on.

It is not only Altan Tan, who comes from Islamic-oriented roots. Even lawyer Aysel Tuğluk, who comes from the PKK itself, has criticized the totalitarian dimension of the organization, asking: “How can we form a communal life if we cannot secure within ourselves freedom of expression?” (Sept. 6, 2014).

Peace process

Because the totalitarian structure of the KCK dominates the Kurdish movement, nobody other than Altan Tan and Aysel Tuğluk has mentioned the problem of totalitarianism.

But the biggest obstacle in front of the solution process is this problem of totalitarianism.

It is becoming very difficult to develop solutions with democratic methods because the KCK in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq is so totalitarian.

During the period of the peace process, the government remained silent to certain PKK moves in the region for the sake of avoiding conflict.

Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan touched on this situation back on Aug. 22, 2013, saying: “We don’t conduct operations despite certain situations that are unacceptable.” 

The KCK in Kandil used the peace process to strengthen its organizations in the cities. From the beginning, it resisted the “necessities” of the process, looking for opportunities to disrupt it. Indeed, it did disrupt succeed in disrupting it in the end.

Intellectuals in Turkey and all who have genuine faith in democracy - and especially democratic Kurdish politicians - should criticize KCK totalitarianism at least as much as Altan Tan.

If the Kurdish movement can get rid of KCK totalitarianism, finding a solution will be much easier - just as it was in Western democracies.