Magazine article Kurdish Life

Turkey's 'Special Relations' with Kurds

Magazine article Kurdish Life

Turkey's 'Special Relations' with Kurds

Article excerpt

"The Turk has had to deal with turbulent and treacherous peoples, and
his way of dealing with them had the merit of strength at least. If the
atrocities were totaled on either side of an account, we should find
that many of the so-called Christian nations were deeper in bloodshed
and guilt than the champion of Islam."
Major General Sir Charles Townshend, Asia, 1922

On June 1st from Agence France Press came a report captioned "Ankara's 'Special Relations' with Iraqi Kurds" and subcaptioned "Iraqi Kurdish leader vows support for Turkey against rebels." The "rebels" to whom the Iraqi Kurdish leader was referring are Kurdish guerrillas from Turkey. According to the AP release: "The Iraqi Kurds will not allow Turkish Kurd rebels hiding in northern Iraq to use the enclave as a launchpad for attacks on neighboring Turkey, a senior Iraqi Kurdish official said here Tuesday. 'We are adamant and we are committed that Iraqi territory, and Iraqi Kurdistan as well, will not be used in any way ... as a base of operations to endanger the security of our neighbors,' Barham Saleh, a senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), told reporters after talks with Turkish diplomats. 'We will be working with our neighbors to ensure that there will be no threat emanating from our territory to their interests,' he added." If ever there lurked a line to explain in a nutshell why Kurdistan lives only in Kurdish dreams, it is this one.

"They are a strong, warlike, hardy race, and, in the time of their Begs,
mosques, medressehs, schools, bridges, &.c., existed in many districts
where such evidences of civilization now only remain as ruins. The
descendants of the Begs are, as a rule, illiterate, and lead idle,
purposeless lives, occupied in their tribal and family quarrels, and
exacting all they can from their own clansmen ..."
Consul Chermside to Sir. W. White, 1889
British Documents on Ottoman Armenians (1880-1990)

The ultimate irony? Eight days later, Turkey's state television aired its first Kurdish language broadcast. The 30-minute program in Kurmanji featured sports, folk music and a nature documentary--nothing that could be construed as political, nothing mentioning Kurdistan. subtitles. On June 11th a like program aired in Zazaki.

Two days later, Reuters reported that "tens of thousands of Kurds wept and danced" as they welcomed four former Kurdish lawmakers freed from prison, but not for good--but conditionally, to await retrial. Parliamentarians Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Selim Sadak and Orhan Dogan were imprisoned in 1994 for "ties to Kurdish guerrillas," therefore for encouraging "separatism. Moreover, Zana committed the "crime" of speaking in Kurdish when she took her oath of office in the Turkish parliament. In front of the prison, Zana pleaded with the beleaguered insurgents of the PKK to extend their unilateral truce for six months. In Kurdish she told the crowd, "This call is for Kongra-Gel: Demand your rights without harming others. We will never be the instigators of violence." (Reuters 6.13.04)

Meanwhile Turkish official Osman Koruturk crossed into Iraq for talks with Masoud Barzani, to "establish relations" with the Kurdish administrations, according to Zaman. Naturally their conversation drifted to the PKK (Kongra-Gel). Unnaturally, the Kurdish leader assured the Turkish official, "We will not sit at the table with terrorists." Naturally he meant Kurdish "terrorists."

But the Kurd and the Turk had more pressing interests in mind. Barzani called for investments by Turkish businessmen in his region. Koruturk pressed for relief from "unjust" taxes levied on Turkish oil tankers. (Kurdistan Observer 6.13.04) Huddled in Kurdish mountains ruled by Kurds, the Kurds of the PKK are as aliens in an alien land.

Meanwhile, in Istanbul following meetings of the Organization of Islamic Countries in Istanbul, former KDP official and now Iraq's Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, told the press: "Turkey is a democratic country. …

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