how the world sees america

Don't Talk to (American) Strangers

AMARCB-1.jpg
On the outskirts of Van, on 'Big Erkan' Hill.

VAN - "Good, you look Turkish!" my translator says when we meet at the airport in Van, a city in eastern Turkey. "It's an advantage. People are afraid to speak...."

The advantage only lasts so long. I introduce myself to people, say I'm from The Washington Post, and watch eleven potential interviewees on these dusty streets nod politely and say, "I am sorry, no thank you," as if I'm hawking Cutco Knives.

My translator and I move from the city center to the outskirts of Van to talk to the residents there who dwell in houses with concrete shells and plastic roofs. A curious young carpenter approaches us, interested perhaps by the camera. My introduction energizes him; he flashes his blue eyes and starts talking fast: "I moved here from Hakkari. This is my first job in months, but…" But then his colleague cuts him off, like a mother ordering her toddler: "Don't talk to those strangers!"

To speak to the American or not? It's a risk-v-reward decision for everyone I meet. By talking, people get a chance to vent frustrations, make a public statement, and be heard. I am one of the very few foreigners the carpenter had met, and the opening lines to his life chronicle suggested he thought I offered some hope of change. Perhaps my audience from home could affect him here. But the mechanism for that change was unclear, and he was easily dissuaded.

Amar-VAN.jpg
Don't talk to strangers!

As the day went on, hit-or-miss, I thought a lot about peoples' decision to speak out. I haven't got a handle on it yet. But it seems to depend partly on one's personality, and partly on one's goals.

Some in Van seemed fearless. Others too afraid to speak. And then a larger middle would speak, but only if I promised not to use their names. Here it gets tricky.

"I am angry," said my translator, citing personal grievances with the police, but "I believe in democracy….I want you to know that." He said he felt that by airing his frustration, and engaging in dialogue, some forward progress could be made. "America is far," he said, but worth reaching out to. "Kurds in America do so much for us." They try to make sure that "America is behind us," by raising Kurdish visibility abroad.

Like yesterday's interviewees, my translator believes that despite the distance, an American audience can change things in Van. "America can solve this problem [Kurdish-Turkish tensions] like they did in other places -- in Ireland," he said. My translator, who reads the foreign press voraciously, says the situation can be solved "if America referees."

He drives me around the city to meet strangers, friends and his family. His friends speak freely, comforted in the knowledge that I am not a complete stranger and enticed by the prospect of an audience. But most of them say they are very reluctant to have me use their names, and so I am reluctant to quote them. I'd prefer named sources.

At least my translator will let me quote him, I think to myself as we lace around Van's looming hills at night. But when he drops me home, he leaves behind with a warning. "This is very important," he says: "For my safety, you must not use my name."

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Comments (66)

SPIDON:


To anyone interested in formulating an objective and personal opinion on the matter at hand, a good place to start is by reading where the Turkish problems come from. Please copy/paste the line below into your browser and simply read the thousands of Human Rights violations by Turkey as listed by the organization HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH:

hrw.org/doc?t=europe&c=turkey

****

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

spidon:

@ Runon:

Thank you for the time you have devoted to answering our concerns about Turkey's intentions.

You will note if you take the time further, that what you say is based on a misinformed opinion on my part, is in fact based on some research. Is it that you wish to misinform or perhaps make an intentional attempt at disinformation? Please direct your attention to the following article (I am quoting The Human Rights Watch report on Turkey vis-a-vis Iraq from 2003):

hrw.org/backgrounder/eca/turkey/turkey_violations.pdf

You will notice that today's attempt, is not the first time Turkey has attempted to enter the oil rich area of Northern Iraq, but it is hoped that it will be the last.

As it is well known, Turkey has been warned in past attempts to 'STAND DOWN' and since there is further attempts to create the 'cause' for which the latest attempt will be justified, it is unconscionable that it should be allowed to pass. All of this, as I am certain, you will be wise enough to acknowledge, points to Turkey either provoking the PKK or intentionally falsifying PKK attacks so as to create 'Just Cause' for invasion. Why not allow observers to detail and verify the claims by Turkey, rather than the preemptive strike into Iraq you are proposing as a solution?

You make reference to a website that is put together by nationalistic buffoons. What you claim is an amateurish website, is your Nationalistic, State Sponsored Website (your own government) and contains all of the details for an intelligent reader to draw many conclusions, that you are now attempting to distance yourself from. It may not be your place to answer these concerns but please do not think that we will be swayed by your attempts to reinvent the Turkish intent.

The State Sponsored Turkish Nationalist website noted for its transparent aggression:
ataturk.com

I invite anyone with questions on Turkey's intent to visit this site, click on the Internal Issues tab on the left, find the article called "Who Owns Kirkuk? The Turkoman Case" and just read.


Thank you once again Runon, your position and counter position, meaning that of the Turkish government and military, are well noted for contradiction.


Spiridon
Montreal Canada

Runon:

@SPIDON

With all due respect, I think you are side-stepping the issues I mentioned. Also you are ignoring my questions to arguments raised by you, yet you are asking more questions of me by reading meaning that isn't there into my words.

1) It is "a" nationalist site. From the looks of it very amateurish as well. You cannot build arguments concerning a whole nation with this as support. I am sure I can find similar Greek sites, or any other nations sites built by nationalistic buffoons. Just use common sense and see that this website does not constitute an argument or evidence. Take a look at some of the above posters, both Turks and Kurds.

2) I think you are making assumptions on this one and I dare say that you are being biased by ASSUMING that they are falsely accused. What makes you so sure? Again I am willing to discuss any issue but it seems like you've made up your mind anyway and I won't waste time unless you make proper arguments. This is no more productive than conspiracy theories of U.S. government being responsible for 9/11.

3) Again you are saying they appear to be so with no explanation, just your opinion. For that argument see no2 above. As to the right to strike at "PKK camps in Iraq" (not invasion and not Iraq), if nobody else is doing anything about it, then we have a right to it. What it will accomplish is it will diminish the ability of PKK to conduct armed terrorist acts. Nobody in Turkey is under the illusion that it will eradicate PKK in North Iraq or alleviate the underlying issues. However, it will severely reduce capability of a terrorist organization. Possibly giving some breathing room for more diplomacy to take place without provocation of further PKK attacks. Surely you wouldn't like 3000 ultra-nationalist Turks on the border with Greece wanting annexation of western Thrace? Why is it so hard to sympathize with Turks?

4)I don't get this one as well. Turkey has no claim to Northern Iraq or what is now KRG territory. If there was any such thing we would have gone in with U.S. force in 2003. The suggestion of invading Iraq on WMD claims of USA was opposed furiously by Turkish people and the parliament caved to public opinion despite tremendous US pressure to the contrary. If this doesn't show you that we have no evil intentions, I'm not sure what would convince you.

Please don't try to turn this argument from Kurdish rights to "aggression by Turkey". I am willing to discuss Kurdish problems and their resolution but not my nations sovereignty. If anybody wants to discuss that, they should wait until both sides should become at least as mature as Belgians :)

spidon:

@ Runon

Thank you for your well reasoned response. We have been in need for some rational thought since Victoria had taken up the Turkish cause and managed to create only more confusion.

I have a couple of questions based on your reporting of the Turkish position:

1) Why are there photos of dead Kurdish children on your nationalist website, and why are these murders attributed to the PKK?

2) What if any attempts have been made by Turkey to address the matter of coexistence with the Kurds rather than antagonizing them further by falsely accusing them of atrocities committed by the Turkish police and military?

3) Given the statistics of attacks by the PKK, they appear to be within Turkey proper and some of these attacks also appear to be fabricated by Turkey to provoke hatred against the Kurds.
What legitimate claim does Turkey have to invade Iraq for the purpose of removing the PKK if the problem with this group is internal rather than external?

4) What claims does Turkey have for the territorial part of Northern Iraq, where the Kurds now live, based on historical proof?
Is there any proof to substantiate Turkey's territorial claim to the Kurdish regions?

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

Runon:

@Spidon

In response to your question below, (I am Turkish by the way) I think that human rights and democracy have long way to go in Turkey. I'll also grant you the point that it certainly does contribute to the Kurdish problem (why quotes by the way?) with reservations on the following points:

1) Swap brutality with oppression/suppression. Brutality conjures up an image of physical abuse, which I deny is taking place. Yes, minorities certainly could use more CULTURAL rights but no one is beating anybody up. And certainly they have equal LEGISLATIVE/JUDICIAL rights.

2) I fail to see what special interests groups have anything to do with brutality. Unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean by this term. Can you clarify?

3) The basic issue in question is certainly not what you claim it to be. Part of it maybe, but definitely there is more to it. Immediate examples that come to mind are,

-is it justified to use arms and terror when you have political representation?
-how much the PKK is hurting Kurdish progress within the existing institutions?
-is there manipulation of both sides by third countries?
-what have the Kurds done so far to promote their own rights? Have they protested, produced literature, voted for better representation etc. I know that some of these would have landed many in prison but when has that ever stopped truly freedom seeking folk?
-has anyone looked into what Kurdish origin prime ministers, president etc. have done for Kurdish rights?
-There have been some major economic government investments to Kurdish regions, along with considerable tax incentives etc. Why have these failed so miserably?
-feudal nature of Kurdish communities and how that figures into the equation?

I think even though the blog series is about American perception in Turkey, I think some of these are also arguments that both sides have not raised so far. I would like to hear your opinions on these issues.

Also I didn't get your Thessaloníki example. Maybe I'm too thick to miss any irony, could you elaborate on that? Is this the city spelled Selanik in Turkish?

Finally, even though Turkey is lacking in human rights issues we want to make progress. Yet despite everyone is quick to point out what we lack, nobody is giving encouragement over what we have done. After all, Turks are also suffering from human rights issues, not just minorities. Human rights improvement is like a steam train that is just gaining speed, it will accelerate much better if PKK, EU and the like stop building road blocks and encourage us on.

-------------------------------------------------

I will repeat:
I am very curious to read other people's thoughts on Turkey's human rights defense. The European Union has accused Turkey for lacking the basic principles and institutions to acknowledge human rights and protections, and it is one of the contentious issues that still keeps Turkey out of the EU, even after 40 years of trying.

My question:
The basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem"?
---------------------------------------------

Runon:

@Spidon

In response to your question below, (I am Turkish by the way) I think that human rights and democracy have long way to go in Turkey. I'll also grant you the point that it certainly does contribute to the Kurdish problem (why quotes by the way?) with reservations on the following points:

1) Swap brutality with oppression/suppression. Brutality conjures up an image of physical abuse, which I deny is taking place. Yes, minorities certainly could use more CULTURAL rights but no one is beating anybody up. And certainly they have equal LEGISLATIVE/JUDICIAL rights.

2) I fail to see what special interests groups have anything to do with brutality. Unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean by this term. Can you clarify?

3) The basic issue in question is certainly not what you claim it to be. Part of it maybe, but definitely there is more to it. Immediate examples that come to mind are,

-is it justified to use arms and terror when you have political representation?
-how much the PKK is hurting Kurdish progress within the existing institutions?
-is there manipulation of both sides by third countries?
-what have the Kurds done so far to promote their own rights? Have they protested, produced literature, voted for better representation etc. I know that some of these would have landed many in prison but when has that ever stopped truly freedom seeking folk?
-has anyone looked into what Kurdish origin prime ministers, president etc. have done for Kurdish rights?
-There have been some major economic government investments to Kurdish regions, along with considerable tax incentives etc. Why have these failed so miserably?
-feudal nature of Kurdish communities and how that figures into the equation?

I think even though the blog series is about American perception in Turkey, I think some of these are also arguments that both sides have not raised so far. I would like to hear your opinions on these issues.

Also I didn't get your Thessaloníki example. Maybe I'm too thick to miss any irony, could you elaborate on that? Is this the city spelled Selanik in Turkish?

Finally, even though Turkey is lacking in human rights issues we want to make progress. Yet despite everyone is quick to point out what we lack, nobody is giving encouragement over what we have done. After all, Turks are also suffering from human rights issues, not just minorities. Human rights improvement is like a steam train that is just gaining speed, it will accelerate much better if PKK, EU and the like stop building road blocks and encourage us on.

****

I will repeat:
I am very curious to read other people's thoughts on Turkey's human rights defense. The European Union has accused Turkey for lacking the basic principles and institutions to acknowledge human rights and protections, and it is one of the contentious issues that still keeps Turkey out of the EU, even after 40 years of trying.

My question:
The basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem"?

VICTORIA:

what a strange accusation spidon-

honestly- i dont have a suspicion for bad in people-

i adore my name- why would i abuse it?

my mothers name was virginia-
she believed that victoria was the virgin queen, and her name was a derivative of victoria.
( i found out later it was elizabeth- but never told her as she loved this connection between us)

she was named for the first colonist born in america, virginia dare.

where do you think im from?

im in new york but was raised in pittsbugh pa

as a matter fo fact- another poster and i have been indulgently rambling on about our home on another question by mr bakshi

well, im not going to talk to you any more-

how unecessarily insulting you are

spidon:

Once again (with some additions), since it is of the greatest importance to the topic at hand:


1) I have found a very well researched thesis from 1988 that describes Turkey as having between 15,000 and 20,000 political prisoners. It is important to note that the figures cannot be properly tallied since Turkey refuses to provide them. I suspect that the problem since then has worsened based on the Islamist government in power and the agenda they enforce versus the secular modus of the government when the above figures were sited. The other reason I believe the figure to be very much higher, is that the relationship the state has with the minorities like the Kurds these days has worsened since then.
I would be very happy if some savvy reader proved me wrong but would like to know the recent data on Turkey's human rights violations and tally on the political prisoners.

2) I am very curious to read other people's thoughts on Turkey's human rights defence. The European Union has accused Turkey for lacking the basic principles and institutions to acknowledge human rights and protections, and it is one of the contentious issues that still keeps Turkey out of the EU, even after 40 years of trying.

My question for the present, aside from the matter of the Armenian Genocide:
The basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem" as Turkey has labelled it?

As well, since the topic has been raised:
We have discovered through their Nationalist website, that Turkey is intending to invade Iraq with the 'legitimacy' it 'believes it has' to the territory now occupied by the Kurdish people.

Why is Turkey intent on invading Iraq, and is the reason to occupy an area where Turkey believes it has historical claim to having?

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

spidon:

@ Victoria,
Just as the name you use is false, so is your place of origin. What proof do we have that Fiona UK is posting from the UK, other than the diversion you are attempting to use by pronouncing it as fact.

Victoria, you need to be more forthcoming with the facts you are so ready to make reference to. You are becoming the poster child of Turkish insecure deflection and wiggling.

My question is a good one and deserves an answer since it is an ongoing issue with the Turkish state as it was with the Ottoman Empire. The only change after Atatürk was a 'hat change'.

Do you have comments on this? If so, you can answer my question about human rights too please.

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

VICTORIA:

youre kind of obsessive spidon

i have to say- if your analytical abilities are so poor that you make such a wild assertion as the last one- when the information is right in front of you- (FIONA.UK:)
it doesnt bode well for your powers of observation and any conclusions you may wrongly reach in the future
youre talking to yourself-
and your question is rhetorical so just answer it yourself

spidon:

@ VICTORIA, dude: October 30, 2007 2:12 AM

If you are not afraid then why are you not answering the human rights question I have asked? There is a plethora of proof to list if you are so inclined. You have proved your research skills when it is time to attack a position your government (Turkey) is against, why not put your research skills to use for humanitarian reasons?

Of course, it would not suit your government's position and it would reflect badly on you, for your poor attempts to sidestep the issue.

For the meanwhile, I would like to have anyone with knowledge of the following two matters, contribute and bring this discussion to a whole other level.

1) I have found a very well researched thesis from 1988 that describes Turkey as having between 15,000 and 20,000 political prisoners. It is important to note that the figures cannot be properly tallied since Turkey refuses to provide them. I suspect that the problem since then has worsened based on the Islamist government in power and the agenda they enforce versus the secular modus of the government when the above figures were sited. The other reason I believe the figure to be very much higher, is that the relationship the state has with the minorities like the Kurds these days has worsened since then.
I would be very happy if some savvy reader proved me wrong but would like to know the recent data on Turkey's human rights violations and tally on the political prisoners.

2) I am very curious to read other people's thoughts on Turkey's human rights defence. The European Union has accused Turkey for lacking the basic principles and institutions to acknowledge human rights and protections, and it is one of the contentious issues that still keeps Turkey out of the EU, even after 40 years of trying.

My question for the present, aside from the matter of the Armenian Genocide:
The basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem" as Turkey has labelled it?


Spiridon
Montreal Canada

VICTORIA:

spidon- you said- (to FIONA.UK:)

"It is understandable for both you and Victoria to not be able to express your true feelings on the matter of human rights in your country, after all, you and/or your families will be killed or jailed if you speak against the government policies."


are you that unaware?

fiona has UK in her name!

do you think britain will kill her family if she speaks against it?

and do you think america will imprison my family if i criticize her?
am i not doing this here, rght now?

do you think im writing from a prison cell????

im in new york dude-

wake up!

spidon:

@ FIONA.UK October 29, 2007 3:36 PM

I do not see how talking about human rights makes me against Turkey. I believe that I am advocating a position on behalf of Turkey to ask questions, that if enough of us are asking, may eventually trigger change for the better; both in Turkey and for humanity.

It is understandable for both you and Victoria to not be able to express your true feelings on the matter of human rights in your country, after all, you and/or your families will be killed or jailed if you speak against the government policies.

I did not expect an answer from Turkish citizens or from those that have families in Turkey, for their personal and security reasons, but would like to hear from people who have left Turkey to avoid having their human rights trampled and/or taken away all together.

****

I will repeat:
I am very curious to read other people's thoughts on Turkey's human rights defence. The European Union has accused Turkey for lacking the basic principles and institutions to acknowledge human rights and protections, and it is one of the contentious issues that still keeps Turkey out of the EU, even after 40 years of trying.

My question:
The basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem"?

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

Fiona.Uk:

Spidon:you are realy against to TURKEY what ever is the topic you dont care about.Just want to talk about Turkey.You cant be genuine and share your idea,which is related to human right and other issues.You just want to provake people against Turkey.Sad.

spidon:

@ Victoria, October 29, 2007 12:48 AM

The topic of conversation is about Turkey, not about Greece, and if Greece is held responsible for any wrong doing, then we will discuss that. Until that becomes a topic of conversation and or concern, we should stick to the matter being discussed presently.

I will repeat the matter for you:
I am very curious to read other people's thoughts on Turkey's human rights defence. The European Union has accused Turkey for lacking the basic principles and institutions to acknowledge human rights and protections, and it is one of the contentious issues that still keeps Turkey out of the EU, even after 40 years of trying.

My question:
The basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem"?

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

VICTORIA:

what about the laceans spiridon?
their ancestors were greek, werent they?
there's alot o different kinds of groups in turkey.

thats not why turkey hasnt been admitted to the EU-
its because they're muslim.

every country everywhere has mistreatment of minorities
even greece has its albanians

you're questions are rhetorical spidon

you dont want or expect an answer- you only want an excuse to post an accusation

why not just answer it yourself, for us?

spidon:

@ Hakan October 28, 2007 6:14 PM

I am not shouting, and I did not even talk about Istanbul. I was asking about human rights, which you seem to not want to talk about and you are trying to change the subject. Why are you avoiding answering? I think it is important to be talking about the dead children you have graphic photos of in your nationalist website: The Kurdish children from South East Turkey.

****

I will reword the matter for you:
I am very curious to read other people's thoughts on Turkey's human rights defence. The European Union has accused Turkey for lacking the basic principles and institutions to acknowledge human rights and protections, and it is one of the contentious issues that still keeps Turkey out of the EU, even after 40 years of trying.

My question:
The basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem"?

Spiridon
Montreal Canada


Hakan:

Spidon you dont need to shout for your wound.It will not heal.You lost Constantinople for ever.Try to understand..may be help.I am really sorry for you.But It is Istanbul now.Luckly.

AGAINST IT'S OWN CHILDREN:

Is what makes it so horrific.

spidon:

@ Vulagar: October 27, 2007 2:09 AM

We agree that the action of killing children especially, is an inhumane and barbaric act.

Let us examine the details of the gruesome, despicable and barbaric depictions of death as shown as part of your nationalist website.

You said:
"These are barbaric and vicious attacks on children and old people in Southeastern Turkey."

It may surprise you did not know that the Turkish south is in support of the actions against the government, as a way to make the government understand that all people have rights, not only Ethnic Turks in the North and West parts.
The South-East of Turkey is populated by ethnic Kurds and they have suffered greatly under the brutality of a government and military that has victimized them for way too long.
There are known military actions in collaboration with the police into this region to silence the voice of dissent. The jails in Turkey are filled with people who spoke up against the dictatorship style coercion used to silence the Kurds. The economy there to top it all off, has been flattened out to provide resources to the Ethnic Turks in the North East.

When the (PKK) was organized to collectively speak against the corruption and brutality of the government in the 1980s, there were mass arrests, resulting in a revolt, that took on violent means (by the PKK) to combat a dictatorship that rather than offer people hope of inclusion, created laws to jail them if they complained about their rights as equals to the Ethnic Turks.

Turkey has conducted assassinations even of journalists like Hrant Dink, who was a threat to the established regime for offering a voice of reconciliation on the matter of ethnicity and rights in Turkey. His killer was wrapped in the Turkish flag and treated like a hero, by the very police that were supposed to arrest him, on public television, and images of this glorification of an assassin made the front cover of most news papers in Turkey.

Outside of Turkey however, we were treated to a "200,000 march by Ethnic Turks, led by their government's elite", distancing themselves from the assassin's notoriety. Inside of Turkey however, it was business as usual in the raids to Kurdish villages to cause mayhem.

Dear Valagar, please explain to me now, based on Turkey's position on many things, and the actions of her government, her military and police forces, how the images (shown on your national website) of gross inhumanity are a depiction of acts by the PKK if the unfortunate people depicted are actually the people who suffer most under the policies and brutality of Turkey's government, police and military.

****

My question again:
...the basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem"?

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

VULAGAR AND SADISTIC INDEED:

No trouble at all,just a click of the mouse.

You said it yourself.

The Middle East Quarterly is a disreputable source? These are barbaric and vicious attacks on children and old people in Southeastern Turkey.
They are the handiwork of the PKK.


Are you saying the PKK should have gone back to the scene of the crime, taken photos, then publicized their own imhumanity?

It is not the source that is questionable, it is the actions.

No one cares about Greece, only you.
There is blame on both sides.

spidon:

How interesting:

@ ENOUGH BLAME TO GO AROUND:
October 26, 2007 2:33 PM

What a vulgar depiction of death!

For the detective in the rest of us however, please notice in the same website, if you go to the main page:

ataturk.com, top left from the poster's picture gallery, labelled, ataturk web:

then click on the INTERNAL ISSUES tab on the left side:

then find the article labelled:
Who Owns Kirkuk? The Turkoman Case
by Yücel Güçlü
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2007

For the real savvy, they can go to the website where the article directs to:
meforum.org/article/1074


Dear ENOUGH BLAME TO GO AROUND,
I would say that you have gone to a lot of trouble depicting gruesome and despicable death in order to promote a lie for the purpose of invading a foreign country.

We can read in the article on Kirkuk, that Turkey makes claim to this area, now occupied by Iraqi Kurds.
I quote from the article:
"The Ottoman Empire incorporated Kirkuk—and much of what is now Iraq—into its domains in 1534."

If this is the reasoning used to claim the area in Iraq, we can use the same argument to say that Turkey will declare Greece as belonging to Turkey since it occupied the area, long, long, long ago.

The question now becomes: What is Turkey up to in wanting to enter Iraq and why has Turkey used the Kurds and PKK to provide reason for invasion?

****

Who will now answer my question:

...the basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem"?

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

ENOUGH BLAME TO GO AROUND:

The PKK's most bloody legacy is in Turkey. In the mid-1980s, the PKK initiated a violent campaign responsible for over 30,000 deaths in Turkey. The PKK raided villages and executed civilians. More Kurdish civilians died at the hands of the PKK than at the hands of the Turkish army.

AEI

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED

http://pkk.ataturk.org/pictures.shtml

spidon:

Dear Ela,

Thank you for sharing. A mother's grief, like a child's loss of parents is a pain too great.

I presume you write with some experience in this matter. I would hope that looking at the problem from the other side would make you empathize not with only Turkish mothers, but with Kurdish mothers, and the mothers that survived the Armenian genocide and lived to speak like you do now but from the point of view of Armenians.

I am a Greek Canadian and cannot speak for Americans and their presidents, but I am also a logical man and can say that none among us wants to speak from a "glass bubble". This matter is too important on a humanitarian scale.
The obvious thing to us, outside of Turkey, is that there is a solution to the problem and Turkey is seeing only the solutions it has exercised in the past against others, like the Armenians and Greeks.

I want to know what is being done in your area to affirm humanitarian rights toward the people that you claim are killing. What are you doing to include them in the economy, education, and government? Are there any examples that can be shown to the world to illustrate your good will rather than the coffins you would like us to see?

I do not believe that violence exists in a vacuum and my experience on the matter tells me that given the several ways Turkey has tried to eliminate the "Kurdish Problem" does not qualify as a solution, it qualifies as a big problem; and this is nothing new from Turkey since we have many examples, other than the Kurds, to base our conclusions upon.

I may be wrong though, but would like to be shown that I am wrong. Talking about it is not enough.

What can you show us as proof Ela, or anyone, that will illustrate Turkish good will?

The question again:

...the basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem"?

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

Ela:

It is so sad to see the assertive comments on the certain villages in Turkey by just considering one side of the issue. I would like to invite people for impartial judgment on what we have been going through in Turkey.
A mother, whether she is in Eastern or Western Anatolia, shares the same values, feels happiness when her children are happy, suffers from the same grief when she looses her beloved son at the very last day of his completion of military service fighting for the unitary of the state. They have both lived for ages in harmony adhering to their cultural richness of this country strengthened by tolerance.
One can hardly discriminate the inequality with respect to the legal rights for every citizen. I would like to ask you if there is any black President in the history of the United States other than in the movies? However, Turkey had an important and well-respected President who was originally Kurdish.
When you take into consideration the economic conditions in Turkey the poor is poor in the Eastern Part or in Central Part etc.
So, it is not fair to make so called profound analysis without having reliable knowledge on the issue.
Please try to know more about us instead of making comments in your glass bells.

VICTORIA:

actually i believe the issue is the kurds

spidon:

Dear Victoria,

I did not have too much hope in your understanding. I was more hopeful that others would.

The question once more:

...the basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem"?

Do we have an expertise on this matter?

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

spidon:

Thank you AMViennaVA,

I like how you defined the problem. Given your true love for history, I will compliment what you said for further reflection. I am certain you know this story but for the benefit of our Turkish friends, it will add some interesting and juicy details to your paradise reference.

****

In the year 379AD, Thessaloníki became the Gem of the Eastern Roman Empire and dominated the passage between Rome and Constantinople. A road (super highway) was constructed named the Via Egnatia which linked Rome to the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire: Constantinople. The Ottomans liked this place so much that they occupied it and showered it with great affection at sword point from 1393 to 1402.
In 1423, when the Byzantines were tired of fending off the Ottoman advances of peaceful coexistence and enforced brotherly love; like a courted lover who is not in the mood for that kind of attention; they decided to sell the city of Thessaloníki to the Venetians at a loss.

The Venetians being so happy to have fooled the Greeks, then found themselves spending ten times the amount of purchase, per year to defend their beautiful city against the lustful Ottomans.
In 1430 until 1912 the city was embraced and held, and put to ruinous usage and dilapidation by our friendly noble pony riders; something like Saint-Sophia (one of the great wonders of the world) after so many years of loving neglect and devout negation.

****

I was in the mood to describe the above story so as to draw attention to Anatolia as a parallel.

When the loving Ottomans came on their skinny ponies to ask for the apple of Byzantium, the Greeks were hesitant, but in time they became relieved that they have gone from a place that has turned out to be a real problem. I think that though the real-estate takeover lacked finesse and graciousness on the part of the Ottomans, in time it has become a blessing for the Greeks and they now offer blessing in return to the Turks that occupy it. The land value has dropped and its placement makes it hard to sell even to a transient with poor credit.

I think I speak for most Greeks and tell my Turkish friends that I am very happy that they coexist next to my lovely dry piece of rock that is just perfect for my taste.

I think I speak for most Greeks when I say that the Turks deserve their land and that we hope they enjoy it in long, and good health.

I think I speak for most Greeks when I say that we hope that Turkey gets with the program and dump the old, tired ghosts of a failed Empire that they have for generals and political leaders, and step boldly into the 21rst century to live happily beside us.

I think I speak for most Greeks when I say that we would be overjoyed to have Turkey in the EU as our brothers but not as the spoilt children they show us they are. There are too many examples to list here, including the present outrage they are acting out.

I think I speak for most Greeks when I say that peace is better than war and prosperity is only possible during prolonged stability without conflict. Take any example in history of cultural and economic success and you will find this principle to be true.

The first step for the Turkish people is to accept the past in order to bravely face the future.
I hope the Armenians are not forgotten because the suffering inflicted upon them was tremendous.
You can forget the Greeks because we have food and music and song and Ouzo: We are free to enjoy the flesh and the mind alike. We have freedom to live and die freely but will not die in shame like you think the Kurds should.

Well, that is the end of the tragic/comedy of a history lesson. I hope it was informative and enlightening.

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

VICTORIA:

spidon, im afraid i didnt understand what you said.

AMviennaVA:

Fiona.Uk: Spindon is definitely from one of Turkey's ex-subjects. Turkey you know is very popular there, even in the Muslim ones. For some inexplicable reason, although based on what our fellow Turkish bloggers post Turkey has established paradise on Earth, they ALL do not like Turkey. What ingrates!

Fiona.Uk:

I think Spindon is Armenian or Greek with all his hate of Turkey.I dont believe any of his word but I can understand him.

spidon:

Dear Victoria,

Thank you for your clarification of the Turkish government position on the issues raised.

It has been noted that you are quoting stats from Turkish figures that must be verified in Europe and the rest of the countries, where belief is substantiated by seeing. It is interesting that while Turkey is throwing out figures that impress rather than figures that bear any weight, the women's demonstration on the streets of Istanbul last year was beaten down by police waving batons, not flags.

http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2005/03/06/turkey050306.html

Interesting contrast to your interesting stats, no?

I am sure that I speak for many when I say that women's rights are human rights and if you would like to draw distinctions between my expertise as a man versus your expertise as a woman then we will contrast our positions on the basis on our depiction on the facts not on our sexual differences.

We will not divert our attention that the basic issue in question here is Turkey's brutality toward the minorities and special interest groups.

Does this policy issue contribute to the "Kurdish Problem"?

Do we have an expertise on this matter?

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

Orhan TOPCU:

FOR Mr Bakshi..
I do condemn Bakshi or any others who blatantly biased reporting PLEASE BE OBJECTIVE and tell the truth NOT lies, truth of both sides of the problem if there is. And let people to decide or choose as A REAL JOURNALIST not creating or supporting terrorism with your pen and column.

VICTORIA:

SPIDON- your 19 year old stats need an update
also your conclusions are erroneous
many of those women subjugated WERE MUSLIM WOMEN WHO WERE FORBIDDEN TO WEAR THE VEIL
like merve kavaci, who was kicked out of parliament and turkey for her insistence on practicing her religion
i notice the article downplays the women WERE imprisoned for being against the secualrist regime.

that has changed now- not enough (because of the MISOGYNY of the men- something turkey sadly has no monoploy on)

it is not the 'passage of time' but the active intervention of the current administration, lead by observant muslims (turkey is 99% muslim-according to your article and nationwatch figures)

also, there is MORE not less msiogynist attitudes in the southeastern area under discussion

one of the overwhelming social problems encountered by reformers was that the very kurds we are dscussing now, refuse to let their daughters go to school, and marry them off at abysmally young ages.

its not really a comment on kurds, but other ethnic groups like the laetians, remain entrenched in medieval lifestyles.

women in turkey now take to the streets and protest in numbers equal to the men.
there have been some upheavals politically in turkewy in regards to woemns rights.


i communicate with several women in turkey on this very subject.


on political activism towards peace by turkish women
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
" And will women help us get there? “Women look at issues more peacefully, we found during different workshops focusing on issues like the Cyprus problem, or Turkish Armenian issues,” she says, referring to past international workshops, where women parliament members from opposing cultures, including both sides of Cyprus, Israel, Palestine, Azerbaijan and Armenia came together to find peaceful solutions to long-standing issues. “We were mostly able to sit down and have fruitful conversations, we learned to trust and respect each other after a few sessions, to come up with more conscious and reconciliatory ways to communicate,” she says with a smile."

http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=74772
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"In terms of women’s social participation we have witnessed considerable progress, during the last 20 years. According to a report titled “Women in Politics” prepared by the Social Democracy Association (SDA), women are increasingly involved in many professions:

One third of all public servants are women
44 percent of teachers are women
One fifth of professors, one third of associate professors, 45 percent of all experts and research assistants and 60 percent of all instructors are women.
33.8 percent of all doctors are women
One third of lawyers are women
There is 27.2 percent women judges

Additionally,
31 percent of architects are women
Women university graduates constitute 4.3 percent of Turkish population and 70 percent of them are active in professional life.

Some of these percentages EXCEED those in many Western countries. The problem is not with women’s participation in social or professional realms but with their participation in decision making, crystalized in the Parliament.

http://iknowpolitics.org/en/node/3010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

as for the parliamentarey participatin of women in turkey- it is up a dismal 9.1% from a dismal 4.6%

but it is still some prgress

the womens liberation movement in america didnt effect change overnight, but turkey seems on an accelerated course and its women have my overt support

SPIDON- stick with the only subject you seem to know,which is turkey and cyprus

leave the womens issues to us women

it is REALLY not your area of even moderate knowledge

spidon:

I would like to point to the following posts as being significant in addressing the various issues in discussion here. They all exhibit rational and well thought out views which contrast well with the defencive posturing of the historical and policy revisionist of present day Turkey:

@ Vic Van Meter -Oct. 25, 6:19AM

@ AMViennaVA -Oct. 25, 8:05AM

@ Pagasus -Oct. 25, 10:39AM

@ TTJ -Oct 25, 10:39AM

@ Ali Kaplan -Oct. 25 12:09PM

****

I would also like to point out the matter of the political prisoners held in Turkey. The stats on this are a little old but the situation with regard the Kurdish problem in Turkey and Turkey's two attempts to enter the oil rich region of Kurdish area in the north of Iraq is telling on Turkey's intentions:

August- September 1988:

http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:KXGKlz_-PA8J:www.wluml.org/english/pubs/rtf/dossiers/dossier4/D4-01-turkey.rtf+Turkish+feminism+demonstrators&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5

Though the above article is about the brutalized feminist movement in Turkey, it sites stats on people held for other minor offences that are contrary to the government rigidity. It is interesting to note that though the passage of time has made the feminist matter more acceptable to Turkey, the Islamist agenda counters the assumption.

It is also important to note that the Kurdish problem has escalated exponentially in Turkey since the level of education has risen and the old regime is being increasingly challenged to accept the rights of special interest groups and minorities. The government's reactions to such civil disobedience would be an interesting contrast to the above sited figures.

I would be curious if anyone can track down more recent (but relyable) figures or Turkish stats on these issues.

My request on the speculation I have made above, is for someone in the know to post such figures and bring us up to date to the present reasons why Turkey is reacting so defensively.

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

Some Guy:

Amar,

FYI - You had an interpreter (oral), not a translator (written).

Ali Kaplan:

There is no question that Turkey has derived substantial benefits from US support,although one might argue that this support was primarly due to existence of Soviet Union. Understandable. But now, Turkey's and US interests differ on every strategic issue in the region. Turkey's fascist military has no respect to its own ethnic turkish citizens as well as its kurdish population. It is simply acting like a spoiled child to invade Kurdistan under the guise of fighting with PKK( a resistance movement which uses terrorism just like any other frustrated national movements)
It would be shameful for the US allow Turkey to invade Kurdisdan.

The translator being PKK sympathizer doesn't change the reality on the ground. Turkish state has been pressureing Kurds for almost a century.
It's difficult to understand US position vis-a vis Kurdistan of Iraq. Kurds have made it clear that they can be US ally almost unconditionally. On the other hand Turkey is trying to build alliances with Syria, Iran as well as Russia despite US concerns.
Bush administartion needs to redefine it's relationship with Turkey due to it's aggressive and antagonistic behaivor toward US and it's newly allies in the region.

Bob Perilla:

Having travelled in Turkey and Armenia both, the remote nature of the peoples and societies in that part of the world render almost any interaction episodic rather than representative unless the reportage is enlightened with a little historic perspective.

Ataturk's great task in forging a nation from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire was the sublimination of extant tribal and ancient national loyalties in order to effect loyalty to a modern secular state. It is easy to lose track of the surprisingly staunch pluralistic nature of the prior Ottoman State in which ethnic diversity was broadly tolerated, if not celebrated, as long as fiscal obeisance to the Sultan was strictly observed. Thus the tradgedy of the Armenian Turks and their immediate successors, the Kurdish Turks, represent an ill-fated attempt by Ankara to remove all prior national/ethnic historic references to create loyalty to a modern Turkish State. Sadly and perhaps fatally, the profound failure of modern Turkey to provide services and infrastructure to the remote reaches of eastern Turkey have led to a resurgence of Kurdish nationalism that might very probably been rendered moot had Ankara only administered its own established boundaries with justice and an even-handed distribution of resources. It is very difficult to imagine the depth of want in that part of the world unless one has been there. The comparison to the sprawling commercial vortex of Istanbul is honestly staggering.

Fiona.Uk:

Dear Spidon,I think you are the fool over Turkey.
Kurdish are minority in Turkey.This conflict always created by USA.Why is that?Do you think USA gave support PKK because they are minority?Of course it is not.USA have biger plans over Middle east.They dont care about Kurdish or Turkish.Cyprus is another conflict created USA & EC..why?Everybody knows British had a lease on Cyprus from Ottoman.But they trying to steal it from Turkey I know very well as a British.Turkey is real fool at the moment because still believe to USA..or have to listen USA for economics reasons.Why do you think the armenian genocide bill pass in this time?Why they have been vaiting to recognise nearly 100 years?Please dont be a fool..

Nihat Eren:


Turks should not let kurds off the hook that easyily . Kurds goverment is like 5 year old kids they SUPPORT PKK , WITH EVERYTHING. TURKISH ARMY SHOULD JUST TAKE OVER KURDISTAN

TURKS # 1

clarification:

I would like to clarify one point:

They are afraid of Turks. Read the beginning, the translator says to Amir: "You look Turkish. It is an advantage!"

G:

AMAR, YOU ARE A BRAVE MAN AND AN HONEST ONE, TRYING VERY HARD TO UNDERSTAND THE POLITICS OF OUR WORLD. YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE THE FUTURE FOR THIS WORLD OF OURS. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND MAY ALLAH/JESUS/ BUDDHA/VISHNU/YEHOVAH OR THE FORCE KEEP YOU HEALTHY AND STRONG

TTJ:

It's odd how some non-Americans believe the U.S. is of one opinion. There are nearly 300 million Americans, all with varying opinions on war, peace, foreign policy, and foreign intervention. You can't just say, "America is about this or America is about that." One thing most of us believe in, however, is the right for people to speak their minds freely without facing intimidation or retribution. That is an essential part of democracy and something that people on all sides of conflicts in places like Turkey and Iraq would do well to consider. They will find that this value is not a threat to their cultural traditions. Rather, it is a fundamental condition for peaceful coexistence among their citizens.

Gokhan:

It should not be forgotten that The Turks were fighting with the enemy of the freedom side by side with the Americans and NATO troops since the Korean War. They were in Somali as well. It s stiil same today. Turkish troops are in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afganistan and Lebonan and their supports are always appreciated. More than %80 logistic supports are providing to the American Troops in Iraq over Turkey and Turkish Air Space. It means that Turkey is stiil fullfillig his responsibilities agaings to allies.

But unfortunately Turkey left alone with their fighting of Terrorism by allies. So the the Turks began to judge the partnership between the western allies and their Country.

The last Ermenian Decision taken in the American Congress made the Turkish despirate ally to USA. USA Government shoot his own leg.

Gokhan:

It should not be forgotten that The Turks were fighting with the enemy of the freedom side by side with the Americans and NATO troops since the Korean War. They were in Somali as well. It s stiil same today. Turkish troops are in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afganistan and Lebonan and their supports are always appreciated. More than %80 logistic supports are providing to the American Troops in Iraq over Turkey and Turkish Air Space. It means that Turkey is stiil fullfillig his responsibilities agaings to allies.

But unfortunately Turkey left alone with their fighting of Terrorism by allies. So the the Turks began to judge the partnership between the western allies and their Country.

The last Ermenian Decision taken in the American Congress made the Turkish despirate ally to USA. USA Government shoot his own leg.

RAT-The:

What the Kurds are after is UNREALISTIC. Even in Iraq, what they they doing is going to cause serious backlashes.

SOME PEOPLE, never learn!

By already trying to grab additional lands, the Kurds are showing their GREED. It is about a perception they want to fantasize about a Country 500 YEARS gone! As in VERY Gone!

To make matters much worse, the region they want has Oil. Meaning even if they had it, the Surrounding bigger countries would then just take it!-Look at the Iraqi/ Iran War, and Kuwait!

No, much better for the Kurds to realize they live in more than Three different Countries, and it is time to ADAPT!

500 Years is a pretty long time to be trying to dig up a country lost!

Just ask the Mayans, Incans, Aztecs, Navahho, Commanche, Iroquoix, Apache,....

nyoped:

Spiridon,

It is clear that you are not familiar with the topic. Kurds are not minority. They do not want to be classified as minorities.

And I see that you cannot speak for yourself since you repeat the demands of foreign lobbies (Cypres, Armenian, etc).

Can't Give my Name:

I recently received an email from a Turkish group in the U.S.A which read "America is behing all these recent terrorist attacks and they gave the PKK intelligence to target the army pesonnel" The email called America the infidel. The same group that sends out these emails is able to open schools in the U.S with the federal government money. Yes, if you see a Charter scjool run by Turks in your neigbourhood, it is funded with your money America!

The Turks just cannot stand the name "Kurd" This whole propaganda is all about taking the freedoms of Kurds in Northern Irag from them not about PKK. It is aunfortunate to see that the U.S is giving up.

The Turks pressure the Kurdish Party (DTP) to call PKK a terrorist organization, yet they provide heavy arsenals, political support to the Cecen terrorists. Back when Afganistan was in trouble, they even supported the Turkmen's there so they could lead afganistan.

Hypocrats! That is all I can say.

steering:

Amar,
Did you take this trip to satisfy your ego or to get a better view of what's going on?

I know in the movies the American spy saves the Easterns and all but this is not a movie. The representatives of that region are already in the parliament. They are not cut off from the world.

Do your job properly or give up journalism and become an activist.

Paganus:

I have no doubt that the reticence of the Kurds near lake Van has much to do with their isolation, poverty, education, etc. I have been by myself in other very isolated areas of Turkey (anround Burdur, etc.), and the Turks in those areas were pretty stand-offish as well. Actually got chased out of one village by shotgun toting farmers - thank goodness they were only trying to scare me off (very effectively). Only the young and the well-educated were willing to talk.

The American inability (or is it unwillingness) to understand the fundamentally closed and authoritarian nature of traditional and/or tribal societies constitutes one of the major reasons we are in the mess we've created in the middle-east. Even if the Kurds someday create their longed-for Kurdistan, it will not be pluralistic democratic state. Just ask all the Arabs and Turkmen who all have to register with the Kurdish authorities in the North.

None of this will end well and there's very little we can do about it now. All we can do reasonably hope to do is hunker down, and attempt to manage the implosion/explosion, so that it is less harmful to everyone. And even then, events will likely spin out of our control, despite all of our planning.

JRLR:

brian mcc, the arctic writes: "... N. Ireland. America can help Turkey, but even President Regan could not prod Thatcher to intervene up north."

What an amusing surprise that the Ugly American who professed that it was America's right and responsibility to "kick ass" overseas, could not even begin to convince his clone to do the right thing!

ezgi:

As a Turk I can say that to believe what you just see is so easy. First of all if you are trying to understand the culture you must face that Turkey is a collectivist culture and because of that if you are a stranger such a place like Van it means you are a complate stranger. People in there are not very good educated so they dont want to trust a person who they dont know. Now situation in Turkey is very bad. The soldiers who died are so important for the people and it is not logical to jude them about political issues. About Amerika I can say that ordinary people can not easily understand what the country and politicans doing. Something going on and the world is changing if we talk about human rights and other staf like that we couldnt understand the view of America.

AMviennaVA:

There is a very consistent theme: Of course we are assured, by our Turkish (?) fellow posters and others who insist that Turkey is a wonderful ally, that all is well and good there. It is only a few undesirables who can possibly complain. However, the minorities in Turkey have a consistent complaint about oppression and fear to express themselves.

I must clarify something: given history (pretty much everywhere), I am inclined to believe the minority rather than the established. To be sure, there are exceptions, such as when the minority is the recent arrival.

Considering how much pressure the EU has to constantly apply on Turkey to make the changes already made, acknowledge the changes that are outstanding, and to even abide by agreements already made (vis-a-vis the EU on the matter of Cyprus for instance), it is obvious that Turkey still has many, and very severe, issues to acknowledge; let alone to resolve.

Also, considering how silent the EU is on the current question, obviously there is no prospect of progress, as regards Turkish membership in the EU, in the foreseeable future.

Vic van Meter:

I think you're all missing the point of Amar's visit.

In case you're just tuning in, Amar's on a hunt for the people at the roots of the causes of national crises that involve America in some way. Right now he's in Turkey investigating the PKK situation. It might pay dividends to notice that the Kurds don't want to even TALK to an American paper. And yet they expect us to help.

This is definitely not a non-issue. It's important to note that the Kurds refuse to talk to an American reporter and to even use their names in stories or even to quote them. These people are VERY afraid of the Turks. Whether or not this fear is justified or sewn out of cultural identity is unclear. And that's actually where I'd want Amar to head in the coming days is to help us understand what is happening to the Kurds in the region that make them so afraid.

Is it because of their government, the PKK, or simply their inward culture in Van that makes these people quiver? Obviously, there are Kurds in Turkey who've posted on the board who certainly don't support the PKK. But Amar is in the boondocks of Turkey (pardon the phrasing) and you're getting the opinions of the people who fuel the PKK or at least do not act against them.

But let's look at what was revealed that was a glimmer into the real trouble in Kurdish Turkey. Most minority groups who have successful violent terrorist organizations don't have them because they're affluent and respected. It's apparant that the first thing this man wanted to talk about, above all things, is work. If the unemployment rate is high, especially in his part of the country, you can expect SOME kind of violence to follow, usually.

Economic troubles lead into political turmoil. A lot of what I suspect the PKK feeds on is the misfortune of the Kurdish people, whether this is truly a result of Turkish discrimination or simply a result of the region the Kurds live in mixed with a healthy dose of cultural indignation. I suspect a combination of both.

If you want to solve the problem of Kurdish terrorism, the first step is to put a halt on the PKK so that they can't exert their influence on Turkish government. We don't need any more Turks killing each other over the issue (not that it matters, considering they'll kill each other for years even after it's solved just because people are people). But we have to look into the economic problems in Turkey. Are they nationwide or only isolated to the Kurds? Is there anything that can be done to help the economic and social situation (if any)?

Part of the reason this is so interesting is that a lot of the comments on the board could replace "Kurd" for black and "Turkey" for America and they'd be right in place. Where on the spectrum they lie, I don't know. Blacks today get a much fairer shake, but to say racism in America is gone just isn't true. There were a lot of militant black organizations in the era of the civil rights movement. Most of these have diminished when the economic situation got better and blacks became more integrated into society.

Or this may simply be a question of location. Economic disparity in areas far from American towns brings together the people and turn them inward. I can also imagine small Kurdish towns being just like small American towns, where everyone knows everyone else and political consensus is easier to reach on otherwise controversial issues. It means the Kurds have come to a conclusion they will believe no matter what because the people they know all believe it and everyone else is a stranger.

Which brings me full circle to why this article is so relevent. If the Kurdish people in Van won't even TALK to a stranger, why would we expect that they listen? If it is a combination of the above two situations in any way, this issue will take decades, if not a century, or consistency on the issue to resolve. But the all important qualifier of change in the region is communication. If nobody is talking or listening, then we can expect terrorist organizations to pop up that believe a certain way and refuse to communicate otherwise. If they're so afraid to speak their minds, even anonymously, to a newspaper reporter from America, then what can we expect their situation to be?

From what it sounds like the way Amar has investigated it, the Kurds in Van have circled the wagons and prepared for a siege. They all speak of waiting for America to come help lift them from a disparity they believe themselves to be in. Are they? That's a bit harder to say. Amar hasn't come out and revealed anything about the actual roots of the conflict yet outside of a lack of communication and that the Kurds feel oppressed. Hopefully we'll all know more by the time his tour in Turkey is through.

Mustafa:

I agree with Zeynettin. I think the case here is that Amar is being targeted by sly PKK supporters. 5% of Turkish votes go to PKK's political wing, so it would be silly to expect that there is no one in Turkey who supports them. I think Amar's translator is an active member. The funny part is how they use him though. PKK is a MARXIST&LENINIST organization, certainly NOT admirers of the US. They absolutely hate the US and its imperialistic policies. They are acting like poor oppressed US admirers so that the audience in US will pay more attention to their cause. Well, the PLO killed a team of Jewish athletes for exactly the same reason. PKK killed civilians for this reason. Why not lie to a journalist for the same reason? It is understood by many in Turkey that guaranteed freedoms are the only way to be able live together and many reforms are in progress. The reforms dont satisfy the PKK because it will end their feudal leadership in the area, no more recruits, no more financing... Then how will some live free? How will some walk around with a gun and be respected although he doesnt have a job? The PKK wants the fight to go on. Its utter bulls*it that they say they want peace.

Kurds are not the only group that wants more freedom in Turkey. They are just hurting all the others and themselves by blocking the reforms through violent means.

zeynettin:

Mr. Bakshi's writings seem to be aimed at making Turkey look like a horrible place, a terrible country to live in. As a resident of Turkey, I read on and I suspect whether the place he is writing about is the country I am living in or not. He is either trying to distort the truth using his profession as a journalist or being largely abused by PKK supporters. This way, he is doing a really good job at legitimizing the grounds on which all Turkey's enemies writing their comments on this column reveal all their cruel claims by making us look like inhuman creatures who deserve the worst punishment for every crime done in history of the civilizations. He is even imlpying it may be righteous to open the possibility of invasion of Turkey by US someday in order to save the poor kurds who pretend to be living under a terrible oppression waiting for a Savior. Well, we see everyday how that works in Iraq...I advise Mr. Bakshi to look for a little more objectivity, seriously reconsider his information resources and read some good history books on the region, before dwelling into issues as serious as this. When future of nations are at stake no one has the right to act this irresponsibly.

abdel hameed M.sadiq:

American imagination is an imagination of wars.Bush is just looking for wars ,no hope for peace planning to have WW3.Turkey will never be a portal for wars ,Turkey is looking for stability and peace in the Middle East.

abdel hameed M.sadiq:

I think that Europian ,and American policies towards Turkey are stained with rot plots.The super power looks at turkey as a poodle not as an ally .If American foriegn policy is sincere towards Turkey ,they won't help Pkk in northern Iraq to attack an army of great nation like Turkey. USA administration led by idiocy and imbecile Bush can lead to great military and political disasters in the Middle East.America and its terrorist ally in the Middle East the so called state of Israel are planning for more hegemonic policies in the Middle East.Let's hope that the Middle East will witness peace ,stability and freedom and unique democracy,but the question remains How?

VICTORIA:

this was such a non-article

i wonder why amar couldnt have relayed some of the quotes with the disclaimer that their identities were withheld. it is certainly not unknown in journalism.

maybe he just had to hand in something on a deadline- even if it had no content

particularly strange was the translators initial response- that he looked turkish so we can only assume that they are NOT afraid to speak to turks- but americans.

maybe this audience wouldnt be so receptive t what they had to say to us


Jim:

Don't talk to Americans -
You know, Turkey is a US ally...

brian mcc, the arctic:

Strange parallel from Kurdistan to N. Ireland. America can help Turkey, but even President Regan could not prod Thatcher to intervene up north. Both regions are smoldering powderkegs, Ireland has no oil, The Kurds are targeted by oil speculators. America has done nothing to prevent the injustice in N. Ireland, good luck if you hope it cares about anything other than your oil.

Kani Xulam:

hi amar,

you are doing a wonderful job of holding a light, with your pen that is to say, to a terrorized population like that of the kurds inside turkey. imagine a country that is aspiring to become a european state and its citizens can not express themselves lest they are visited by the police. bigots are in power in turkey and bigots are only good in dominating others. but their struggle for supremacy will one day come to a grinding halt. the nazis, despite their herculean efforts, didn't win and didn't become the lords of the world. the future belongs to those who are struggling for equality. one day, the kurds and the turks will become neighbors, respecting each other as equals. for that day to come, the rays of light and those of freedom need to penetrate the darkness that is turkey. kudos to you amar for doing your share. it is a thankless and sometimes dangerous task. take care and continue with your insights into the totalitarinism that is on display in the streets of the turkish or kurdish cities that you visit.

spidon:

Fiona,

You are fooling yourself. The PKK exist because Turkey has offered no rights to her minorities. It is time to clarify the positions of her Islamist government and the oppressive military that has brutalized the people.

In one report I have read, there are upward of 15,000 to 20,000 political prisoners wasting away in Turkish jails. From the various posts in the discussions on POST-GLOBAL, we see that the Turkish people cannot speak as people but report what the government wants us to hear.

I think it is time for Turkey to come face to face with her brutal past; apologize to the Armenians for the genocide it inflicted on these people; give the Kurds their right place within the country without limits to their rights and stop inflicting pain on dissenting voices.

Turkey should stand down from the Iraqi border and make every attempt to resolve the Cyprus issue.

The time for change is now! It is not yet too late.

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

JRLR:

"America can solve this problem like they did in other places -- in Ireland," he said. My translator, who reads the foreign press voraciously, said tensions in Van can be lessened "if America referees."

If only the US still had genuine diplomats...

Fiona.Uk:

I think USA government must give support to Turkey.It is an ally country and gave lots of support to NATO with those years.Do you belive USA fighting with terrorism??Actualy I dont believe that..PKK is piece of art of USA.Now it must destroy it.Because USA is against all terrorist organisations!!!!!!

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