how the world sees america

Turkish Kurd Praises Ocean City Multiculturalism

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Tongue Tied?

ISTANBUL – “To learn another language, you have to press your tongue against a girl's tongue," Ahmet D. tells me shyly. He's a twenty-four-year-old Kurdish student at Bosphorus University who says what Turkey needs is dialogue, humanism, and a little love. He came to this conclusion through academics, American literature, and four formative months serving pancakes on the Eastern Shore.

Ahmet looks out over the channel below. Ships inch by. Beyond them, layered red roofs and minarets undulate on the Asian side of Istanbul. And next to him, punks, bohemian-sheeks, modest Anatolians, fashionistas, and bedraggled test-takers gossip together. Ahmet stares past it all.

Ahmet was one of nine children who grew up in Mersin city, within a Kurdish neighborhood called Yeni Pazar, which means "new bazaar." The bazaar was far from new. Ahmet's under-resourced primary school, Hatice, scrunched 60 students together into each classroom. In the afternoons, Ahmet helped his father earn money by pushing one of their vegetable carts around town. He read books over potatoes and watermelons.

Then, in eighth grade Ahmet surprised everyone by maxing out on the national standard exam. His score earned him a place at a prestigious boarding school, the Teacher Training High School, where he picked up English and recognized his knack for languages. He went on to the prestigious Bosphorus University, where he pursued his interest in language.

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The View.

He mastered English, and for the first time turned to Kurdish. The two interests buttressed one another. The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, and John de Crèvecouer's What Is An American helped him recognize the “mild discrimination” he had faced as a poor Kurd in a wealthier school, and presented an American vision for overcoming such discrimination, one in which “different cultures come together and accept a new [American] identity while preserving their old ones."

That summer, Ahmet paid $3,000 of his scholarship money to a Turkish travel-exchange company to see the American experiment first hand. He was partly skeptical, expecting black Americans to sympathize with him because he was a fellow minority, and white Americans to show him relative indifference.

He was surprised by what he observed between June and September, 2004, serving breakfast and lunch at a local Ocean City diner. Ahmet found that identifiers like age and gender had far more to do with how people related to him in America than did race or ethnicity.

"For example, when I had a hard time understanding the teenagers [ordering food] in English, they would say, 'If you don't understand our language why are you here? Why are you in America?!' I was so upset I never expected these kinds of statements from black and Mexican teenagers."

Then, he befriended a 70-plus-year-old white American couple from Pennsylvania. "They asked me about my life as a student in the university and about what I cared about.” When Ahmet told them of his interest in languages and minority rights, they asked, "Do you have a girlfriend?" to which Ahmet sheepishly lied and said, "Yes."

"Too bad," the old couple responded, "Our adopted daughter is from India. She speaks seven languages and is in medical school and is also concerned about minorities." Ahmed had missed his chance. He learned English without pressing tongues, he admits.

Now he's back in Istanbul, designing a bilingual Kurdish-Turkish syllabus he hopes may be implemented one day. "Multilingualism is part of multiculturalism," he says, buzzwords ringing, "Knowing many languages makes people more sociable, more democratic, more empathic, and more humanistic."

"America is not a perfect model," he cautions, but some of its foundational texts and ideas did inspire Ahmet when he entered university. And on the Maryland shoreline, he saw that "In the U.S., people are people: black, white, all with red blood. You never know who tips well or who is rude just by their looks.”

"I know where I stayed [Ocean City] is a holiday place, a rest place. Maybe it's not representative of America. But then again you can never make a generalization about a country, or even a group of people. Everyone is different. That is what I am trying to say."

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Comments (74)

Deli Dumrul:

Spiridon,

Love your wikipedia comments, why don't you wikipedia George Horton (the guy who wrote Blight of Asia) and see how he demonized Turks 20 years before Smyrna.... An Osama Bin Laden if you will...

The Turk:

Anybody else wants to carry on with false claims and unsupported, malicious attacks? Where's that genious quebecer from Montreal? Where's your response? Bunch of hypocratical biased racist people! Just because you're in Canada, US or UK, do you really think you can throw a slime on the history and expect it to become blurry forever?

Anyway, PKK terrorists (NOT Kurdish "rebels" or "guerillas" nor "Freedom Fighters" got their rear ends kicked with fire. Hopefully they won't be sneaking up our border, then attack and kill our people anymore.

HEY, spiton, the Quebecois!!!! Why somebody like yourself, in the deep freeze of Montreal in winter, worry about the article 301 of the constitution of Turkey? Why the hell do you worry about it? It's meant for the citizens of the Republic of Turkey. Unfortunately, some of them have plans of seperating the country (like you'd know being from Quebec) and this article is meant for them, not for you. Also, go back to the link you sent and re-read the article. It's just a normal law, not a fascist or discriminating in any way.

Anyway, tell me: WHY THE HELL DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THE ARTICLE 301 OF THE TURKISH CONSTITUTION??? WHY?

The Turk:

Monsieur S,

Turkey is located in a very nasty neighborhood. Almost everybody around wants a piece of us. Armenians, Kurds, Greeks are the obvious ones. Arabs and Iranians don't claim land but they want us to be more radical muslims. They don't like that we drink and -most of- our women are not wrapped up in black bed sheets. Although, when they come to Turkey, they enjoy our Raki & wines as well as topless beaches. (By the way, FYI: I live in BC, Canada and I have very good Greek friends, but their government does not let go easy. Greeks and us share almost every aspect of life, down to the arts, music etc. except religion. We should be the best neighbors. We're so much alike.) Kurds are absolutely fine, except the fanatic ones who use violance and guided by other foe forces. Armenians on the other hand... I swear they're nuts! I could not make any friends myself, but my Turkish friend is dating an Armenian girl. Her parents are not happy about it. Almost all of them hate us with a passion. They talk to me as if I committed the famous "killings" with my own hands. Are they crazy or what? I read some British history books, which clearly say: "Armenians who live in Eastern Ottoman Empire joined forces with Russians upon their "land" promise and attacked Turks who ended up winning the fight." Of course, they don't say it wasn't an organized ethnic cleansing. That's why the Armenians in Istanbul or Western Turkey were not forced to move, only the ones close to the Russian border. OK, perhaps that was not a nice thing to do, but it was 1915 and it was the WW-I. Nobody denies that many Armenians have died but also Turks had died as well. We don't want to be labeled as "nazis", just because we're NOT.

Sultan Fatih Mehmet, The Conqueror thought a lesson in human rights back in 1453 by allowing the main Greek and Armenian churches remain untouched physically as well as their functions. That's why they still exist in Istanbul. Turks have been living in harmony with every nation and religion ever since. Even we accepted large numbers of exiled Jews from Europe twice, tens of thousands of Afghans escaping from Russian red army and over a million Kurds running away from Saddam's forces back in 90-91.

Where was I? Aha, bad neighborhood. Article 301 was a necessity but it's flawed, no question about it. There are articles like that in Western countries' constitutions, but they're not as heavy handed as the "301". I think 301 mixes up "critcism" with "insult". As I said, it was made due to necessity. The sad but true fact is: Many Turks are not educated well. Illiteracy rate is low, but being "educated" is indeed necessary for making correct analysis of the situation, comprehand it well so the right democratic decisions can be made. Otherwise it's not that difficult to drag masses behind some radical religious and/or ethnic ideals. Despite the democratic improvements, these type of "bandwagons" are full and ready to roll. Econimical hardship is also a great cause of easily influencing masses. Both of these negatives are present in Turkey, especially, way more so in the Eastern provinces. So, bottom line: Article 301 is doomed to be revised to a lighter note. I don't see it being dropped all-together.

Mon Francais est oxydee,anyway ok, my French is rusty. Is this a satisfactory response?

My question: Why people worry about Article 301? They can say what they have to say without attacking "Turkishness". Well, because their problem is to create a division in between Kurds and Turks, so Turkey would be easier to break it up. Who really wants to do this? The US,UK and France. The land is so strategic and so rich in every resource, it's irresistably attractive. Believe it or not, there are some people who think Sevres agreement is in effect, but don't accept it being null & void due to the Lausanne Agreement.

Jehangir

spidon:

@ Turk,

Habibi,
I understand your position on the matter but please tell us about your impressions about the teaching of history in Turkey.

It is interesting how you claim that your version of history, which goes against the international accepted eye witness reports, is the truth.

I would like to point out to you that the Turkish version of the truth is greatly compromised by the constant attempts by Turkey to alter the facts, or simply punish anyone who makes these facts available.

Please comment on Article 301.

I have found a simple definition on this in the following link:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_301_(Turkish_penal_code)

I will quote from the first paragraph but would like your response on the relevance on this law and how it relates to the teaching of history in Turkey.

"Article 301 is a controversial article of the Turkish penal code, taking effect on June 1, 2005, and introduced as part of a package of penal-law reform in the process preceding the opening of negotiations for Turkish membership of the European Union (EU), in order to bring Turkey up to EU standards. It makes it a crime to insult "Turkishness". Since this Article became law, charges have been brought in more than 60 cases, some of which are high-profile. Büyük Hukukçular Birliği ("Great Jurists Union") headed by Kemal Kerinçsiz, a Turkish lawyer, is "behind nearly all of [301 trials]". Kerinçsiz himself is responsible for forty of the trials, including the high-profile ones."

****

J'ai bien compris votre réaction mais je voudrais une réponse.

Meilleures salutations,
Spiridon
Montreal Canada

Turk from Turkey:

Hey Speedo,

Have you ever been in Izmir and 400km radius around it? It's like an open air museum. Going back 4000 years, the oldest rock-built bridge in the world as well as more antique Ionian, Lydian, Roman and Byzentium ruins... probably more than what today's Greece has. What artifacts are destroyed? They're all there.

Don't believe everything you read. First of all, it's so illogical to burn down the entire city that you're trying to recapture, because it was yours to begin with. It doesn't make sense. On the other hand, losers (occupying Greeks) wanted to leave the city in ruins as they were escaping by sea as soon as they realized they're lost.

Also, as if Western history books are always fair and unbiased as well as Western diplomats, especially from chaotic war times. If you think Western history books are telling the truth, nothing but the truth, you're grossy mistaken.

Besides, if Turks burned down Izmir, it may not be written in Turkish history books, but we would have heard about it. You can't shut everybody up about something so outragous and in grand scale. To top it all, arrival of the Turkish forces into Izmir in Sept.9th.1922 has been filmed. You can clearly see what's going on with your own eyes.

As a personal witness, I grew up in Izmir, there are so many old (200, 300+years) buildings, homes in Izmir. Greeks burned down the government offices to clear their documents that left behind.

Izmir also have very old 4 Greek, 3 Anglican and 5 French/Italian Catholic churches, as well as 2 synagogs. All these buildings are couple of hundred years old, still functional in Izmir. Brand new churches also have been built. If Turks burned the place down in a plundering rage, with that hype and anger, probably they'd have burned down these places first.

As we say: Sun can not be covered up with smearing mud. The truth can not be kept secret forever. You should double-check your sources on this info.

I will not respond to any other claim/argument regarding this matter, because it's pointless no matter how many ex-US or other European ambassador stories you can come up with. Make sure you don't freeze your brain like the rest of Montreal.

C'est la vie mon cher!

The Turk:

Hey Speedo,

Have you ever been in Izmir and 400km radius around it? It's like an open air museum. Going back 4000 years, the oldest rock-built bridge in the world as well as more antique Ionian, Lydian, Roman and Byzentium ruins... probably more than what today's Greece has. What artifacts are destroyed? They're all there.

Don't believe everything you read. First of all, it's so illogical to burn down the entire city that you're trying to recapture, because it was yours to begin with. It doesn't make sense. On the other hand, losers (occupying Greeks) wanted to leave the city in ruins as they were escaping by sea as soon as they realized they're lost.

Also, as if Western history books are always fair and unbiased as well as Western diplomats, especially from chaotic war times. If you think Western history books are telling the truth, nothing but the truth, you're grossy mistaken.

Besides, if Turks burned down Izmir, it may not be written in Turkish history books, but we would have heard about it. You can't shut everybody up about something so outragous and in grand scale. To top it all, arrival of the Turkish forces into Izmir in Sept.9th.1922 has been filmed. You can clearly see what's going on with your own eyes.

As a personal witness, I grew up in Izmir, there are so many old (200, 300+years) buildings, homes in Izmir. Greeks burned down the government offices to clear their documents that left behind.

Izmir also have very old 4 Greek, 3 Anglican and 5 French/Italian Catholic churches, as well as 2 synagogs. All these buildings are couple of hundred years old, still functional in Izmir. Brand new churches also have been built. If Turks burned the place down in a plundering rage, with that hype and anger, probably they'd have burned down these places first.

As we say: Sun can not be covered up with smearing mud. The truth can not be kept secret forever. You should double-check your sources on this info.

I will not respond to any other claim/argument regarding this matter, because it's pointless no matter how many ex-US or other European ambassador stories you can come up with. Make sure you don't freeze your brain like the rest of Montreal.

C'est la vie mon cher!

The Turk:

Hey Speedo,

Have you ever been in Izmir and 400km radius around it? It's like an open air museum. Going back 4000 years, the oldest rock-built bridge in the world as well as more antique Ionian, Lydian, Roman and Byzentium ruins... probably more than what today's Greece has. What artifacts are destroyed? They're all there.

Don't believe everything you read. First of all, it's so illogical to burn down the entire city that you're trying to recapture, because it was yours to begin with. It doesn't make sense. On the other hand, losers (occupying Greeks) wanted to leave the city in ruins as they were escaping by sea as soon as they realized they're lost.

Also, as if Western history books are always fair and unbiased as well as Western diplomats, especially from chaotic war times. If you think Western history books are telling the truth, nothing but the truth, you're grossy mistaken.

Besides, if Turks burned down Izmir, it may not be written in Turkish history books, but we would have heard about it. You can't shut everybody up about something so outragous and in grand scale. To top it all, arrival of the Turkish forces into Izmir in Sept.9th.1922 has been filmed. You can clearly see what's going on with your own eyes.

As a personal witness, I grew up in Izmir, there are so many old (200, 300+years) buildings, homes in Izmir. Greeks burned down the government offices to clear their documents that left behind.

Izmir also have very old 4 Greek, 3 Anglican and 5 French/Italian Catholic churches, as well as 2 synagogs. All these buildings are couple of hundred years old, still functional in Izmir. Brand new churches also have been built. If Turks burned the place down in a plundering rage, with that hype and anger, probably they'd have burned down these places first.

As we say: Sun can not be covered up with smearing mud. The truth can not be kept secret forever. You should double-check your sources on this info.

I will not respond to any other claim/argument regarding this matter, because it's pointless no matter how many ex-US or other European ambassador stories you can come up with. Make sure you don't freeze your brain like the rest of Montreal.

spidon:

@ The Turk,

I am sure you think you are right since you read the only history book available in your country, but if you look at the American and other International observers present in Smyrna, you will notice that your history books have been written by the same people who advocated Article 301 in your country.

Thank you for your cultural point of view; we will stick to the history reported and known to be true, though we have no problem with entertaining your position.

You might ask yourself though, how is it possible for the Greeks to destroy 3000 years old artifacts, if they only served to substantiate their presence there for that time.
You might also ask yourself whether all the others, like the Armenians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians... also were at fault like you claim the Kurds are presently at fault and thereby giving Turkey the right to brutalize them.

Thank you for your history, we will stick to the version that is proven as true.

antibaro.gr/references/Horton_The_Blight_of_Asia.pdf

THE BLIGHT OF ASIA
An Account of the Systematic Extermination of Christian Populations by
Mohammedans
and of the Culpability of Certain Great Powers; with the True Story of the Burning of
Smyrna
By
GEORGE HORTON
For Thirty Years Consul and Consul-General of the United States in the Near East
With a Foreword by
JAMES W. GERARD
Former Ambassador to Germany

Spiridon
Montreal Canada

The TURK:

Spiridon from Montreal.

It's obvious that you're either a fanatic Greek or Armenian having some axe to grind with unrelated issues. For your info: The Greeks burned down Izmir just before their asses were kicked and fell in the Aegean, LITERALLY. Sept. 9th. 1922 marks the end of Turkey's independence war, which was fought against UK, France, Italy, Greeks, Russians and backstubbing your friendy neighborhood Armenians. What a crock of crap that "Ottomans" burned Izmir??? There was no physically "Ottoman Empire" left after 1920 and the "empire" left in the palace in Istanbul became full history in 1922. What a made-up, outrageous and ridecilious lie!

spidon:

@ Great Read,

I agree with A.C. Bakshi. Thank you for the link.

If anyone is interested in a great PDF book on the burning and destruction of Smyrna by the Ottomans in 1922, as documented by the US Ambassador at the time, I will post the link.

Peace.
Spiridon
Montreal Canada

Amar C. Bakshi:

Hi, Thank you for this reading suggestion. I will print it out and read it on the plane to Lebanon shortly. Many thanks again.

Great Read for Amar:

Dear Amar,
When you have time, here is a link (see below) from which you will benefit, as you consider the totality of your experience in Turkey. Hear the voices of the past, and how Turkey has left its indelible mark on millions.

http://www.interlitq.org/content/issue1/thalia_pandiri/thalia_pandiri.html

Blessings to you, and safe travels.

SPIDON:

WOW!

That's a lot of Turkish bravado. Why don't we talk about the real issues now.

****

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

Turk from Turkey:

Hey Kurd, from Northern Irak...

You say: "Liberated Iraq"????? Dream on baby! You'll be a full strings attached puppets of US, used as a bumper country against Iran and as a source of nuisance for Turkey which is not wanted to get any stronger in that region due to US' desire to have as much power and control in the region as possible. That's your function and PKK seems like doing just that fine.

Besides, for your knowledge: North, like the rest of Iraq, is currently being invaded and occupied. The head of drugs and weapons (as well as oil and many other goods) smuggler ring head hancho Barzani and Talabani are not real statesmen, they're just hired actors by the US. Are you guys brave enough to go down the well with US' rope?

James Seaborn:

You're welcome Victoria.

Vic van Meter:

Hey, thanks for using my name to post something that isn't mine, tough guy.

VIC VAN METER:

Iraq, Turkey, Syria are not that old either. Their boundaries are fake.

Vic van Meter:

Ow, wow Kurd! I guess you've even heard about Northern United States (Canada) and Southern United States (Mexico)!

Let's be realistic. That'd be like Mexico calling Texas "North Mexico." Sure, technically, Texas used to be Mexican territory. A long time ago. California used to be Mexican territory as well. You don't hear the French calling Oklahoma "West France."

Get over yourself. Kurdistan doesn't exist and nobody is going to support it. America wouldn't even set your "East Kurdistan" free from Iran. And you're fooling yourself if you think anyone is going to jump on the political drive to tell Turkey that its southern region should be its own country.

All this rhetoric on a Kurdistan that doesn't exist is really getting on my nerves.

Kurd from Kurdistan:

Some political terms. These are the names of 4 new mini-states composing “ Great Kurdistan”. They are banned in most of the under-mentioned countries and one even could face life-imprisonment or execution for just referring to them.

Iranian occupied Kurdistan: East Kurdistan
Iraqi liberated Kurdistan: South Kurdistan
Turkish occupied Kurdistan: North Kurdistan
Syrian occupied Kurdistan: West Kurdistan

East + West + North + South = The Great Kurdistan

VICTORIA:

thank you mr seaborn

Vic van Meter:

Chairs? They'll put anything in their spaces! And if you're riding your winter rat, you'll push it out of the way with your bumper while you park! This trick only works in summer when people are driving their nice cars and don't want to do any damage to them. Or maybe I'm just not a nice guy...

Anyway, no...he was yelling at me because I was in the fire lane. That was hilarious. He was screaming about what would happen if the building was burning and the fire truck couldn't pull up. It's hilarious and ironic now, but I was hopping mad right about then.

And just because you don't live there doesn't mean you don't come from there. We all come from somewhere. Most of us come from a lot of places. I can go anywhere in the world, but I'm a jagoff out of Southside that moved into Columbus at heart.

James Seaborn:

I honestly am having such a difficult time understanding how people act these days here in America. When I was young I was considered a Hippie/Flower Child. But we cared about each other. We were fighting against racism, prejudice and intolerances of all types.

When I was 19 I was invited to go to live as long as I wished by illigal Mexican Migrant workers. I took them up on their offer. These men were picking fruit in the hot sun so they could support their families for the rest of the year. And yet they wanted to pay my way to go to their small village in the desert.

Three days on a bus and a long taxi ride and I was in a small village with no cars, no safe drinking water for three miles, and no toilets or electricity except some of the people had a lightbulb as they had just gotten electricity the year before.

These people treated me like family. They all took turns sharing their homes with me. I wanted to stay forever but I knew they could not afford to feed me.. even though they would have. I stayed two months and they all chipped in and sent me back when I was ready.

My point is this: Hate begats hate. Somewhere after all the progress we were making back then against racism... it reared it's ugly head again.

I can tell you the problem with America in two words: GREED and SELFISHNESS. I think it applies to all things in all countries. I would also add the word INTOLERANCE.

I actually lost my faith after a lifetime of living it with vigor and conviction. I do not like what religion causes in respect to wars and hatred. If there was a god... a supreme being of any kind... you cannot convince me he or she would be happy with the way we treat each other.

Everyone I meet from a poor country has a heart as big as a mountain. I watched many of my Mexican friends move to the U.S. and over time I watched them lose sight of who they were. It is easy for people to get caught up in the greed and forget what is really important. Most families here are not close at all compared to those from poor countries. I am 55 and dying. I wish I could convince you all to just stop arguing about who and what is right.

When I found out I was going to die I wrote 6o typed pages to my children so they would have all the knowledge and wisdom I wanted to leave with them. It was too long. They would not remember. I reduced it to 10 pages, 3 pages, 1 page. It was still too long. I knew they would not remember. So I went out and bought bright orange neon cards and I took a black marker and wrote the following: "This is the sum total of all my knowledge and wisdom:
1. Love everyone.
2. Forgive everyone.
3. Judge no one.

I knew they could remember that. In closing, I met a young Kurdish man after emailing him back and forth for a few weeks. He came and stayed in my home for the weekend. I have never met a finer man in my life. I hope all of you who read this lose all of your intolerance, greed. selfishness and use your minds and hearts to treat each other the way you would want to be treated... no matter who the person is, no matter what they look like, believe, their religious preference, sexual preference, etc. Just treat everyone the way you want to be treated.

"Evil flourishes when good people do nothing."
"If you want to get to the other side of the lake, tow someone else's boat and lo... yours will be there also."

I read those when I was 12 years old and never forgot them. Go see the movie 'Ghandi' starring Ben Kingsly. It is long and not action packed. No special effects. But it's message is powerful
and moving. Surround yourselves with happy tolerant people and learn to enjoy all the differences in each other. The only prejudice a person should have is the prejudice of prejudice.

May you all come to know the happiness I have known in my life.

My love and best wishes to all of you and for your loved ones and even for your enemies.

So let it be written...So let it be done.

Joseph Seaborn gaspdesign@earthlink.net

ZEYNETTIN:

Dear Mr. Gandhi,

If you will base your opinion on Turkey on Mr. Bakshi's writings, it is really saddening. I symphatize with your support to him as a journalist who seems to be of the same country of origin with you. But when it comes to getting an objective understanding, it would take much more than Mr. Bakshi's fluent writings in a thriller mood with a romantic view to supporters of PKK killers who have taken lives of more than 30000 innocent Turkish people including babies and other civilians for over 20 years now. Truth surely has many versions, so does history and consequently anyone can be seriously misleaded by the biased kind of it. But of course, distorted truth might be just what you need to convince a credible audience if you aim to lay a legitimate foundation for seperatist terrorist organizations like PKK. Such is the gratitude we receive from United States media for sending Turkish soldiers to Afghanistan to help United States with their search of Al-Qaida. Terror done to US is terror definitely, but terror done to Turkey? Well maybe or not even that much so…

VICTORIA:


southsiders put kitchen chairs on the street to save parking spaces- i have never seen any city in america that does this- or actually honors it -
maybe he was getting his chair vic and you beat him to it

thanks for the yinzer talk- it reminds me that i actually came from someplace a long time ago :)

Vic van Meter:

I know it's bad to knock the homeless. There's actually a guy who sits there singing all the time out on High St for change. The poor guy's just so happy all the time, even though he has nothing, that I've bought him lunch a couple times. He was a cleaner at OSU until they fired him, or so he says. Nice guy.

There was a movement last year, though, that is moving the homeless farther north with a lot of initiatives. I hardly see the guy anymore. Hopefully he'll be able to get out of that rut someday.

I feel bad about saying anything about the homeless situation... and then I'm in Pittsburgh on Carson's St. and some guy shows up demanding that I move my car because I'm parked illegally. He says this from in front of my car. I keep telling him to move, and he gets mad and yells at ME to move. I'm the one illegally parked, he's just standing in the street. Then I don't feel so bad.

Dunbar:

After Reading comments from many writers here defending the northern Irqai region, does anyone question that this region is a terrorist haven? when US led invasion occrued the saddam army depots were opened and hundreds of thousands of all kinds of military explosives,machines guns equipment were looted. Plus over 190 thousand guns were somehow! been stolen from the US Army goverment depots. Now iraq is a big weapon open market. Where is the iraq security? Where is the US military security? and how about Barzani Talabani organized crime family security forces? No one is talking about this? a total failure of security effecting every country that neigbors Iraq! Including Turkey
The pandora box has been opened with the 2003 invasion and the reponsibility lies whoever opened this. Turkey has decided to defend itself against this terrorist haven of northern iraq and has the whole Turkish nation behind it. Turkish peoples livelyhood is at stake and each citizen is ready to defend itself against this encirlement of enemies and terrorists.

Shalini Razdan:

Amar,

Thank you for bringing all these diverse voices to our notice. The aspect of your reporting that I admire and enjoy the most is your ability and integrity in letting the "individual's" voice come through. I love the way you manage to keep the humanity of everyone you interview at the forefront of all your stories.

Well done!

VICTORIA:

ill give you some off topic fun vic-

i fed homeless people a 100 a day for a year in '87 in venice beach with 2 slightly inebriated ex hare krishnas- (i was christian mystic flavor)

one time ed bradley from 60 minutes was interviewing people-
a homeless guy i knew well whose license actually read jesus h.christ- ( i am not kidding he thought jesus middle? name was h)
obligatory long blond hair and dirty beard was complaining to ed that the christians wouldnt even give jesus a pbj sandwich.
he was hopping mad too- i fed him every day and he didnt want my christian food- he wanted the other christians sandwich.

true story

ed bore him pretty bemusedly but patiently
peace

Vic van Meter:

Hey, can we get a homeless guy off the street, Amar? Nothing says fun like the craziest people in the world getting a shot at the mic.

Or one of the religious nut jobs? Not like a respectable religious leader, but someone we can all agree is a nut case. Like the guy who stands on OSU's Oval in good weather screaming at people who walk by how damned they are.

If for nothing else, than just to see the comments people drop. If they think THIS is unconventional, just wait until we get the Turkish version of the American homeless, "the world is being bought by politicians and paid for by aliens living in Nevada" speech.

I don't know, I'm sick but in a good mood today.

Fiona.Uk:

Kurdish people are never had a country.They always lived as a nomad.Why are they need a state now,for themselves or for USA? Realy who needs new Kurdish state?I dont need answer it is very clear.

Amar C. Bakshi:

Sorry to have been away from the comment threads for a few days. I read them with a mixture of emotions, and wanted to make sure when I re-engaged, I could do so productively.

There are many feelings swirling around right now, and as a rather unconventional reporter, my job is to present a different viewpoint each day as accurately as possible.

That said, Turkey is as multifaceted and multi-layered as Istanbul is as a city, and every community I turn to here as a very specific voice. This is wonderful for this project, as long as each post is read in the context of an ongoing series.

I have received numerous emails from secular, patriotic Turks who say I am not representing Turkey, to which I would re-quote Ahmet's last line, which sums up my position as well as any. But at the same time, I do want to reflect the voices of many Turks in Istanbul who I have met who want to develop Turkey along secular lines, don't believe there are serious divisions within the country, and have total faith in the democratic process (incidentally, Ahmet is one of those people, though he is a Kurd).

So this coming week, Hassan and Victoria and a number of others who have been waiting for a certain Turkish voice will likely here it, for indeed, like Ahmet's voice, it exists within Turkey, and I have been confronted by it.

I greatly appreciate all the conversation you are having. Each post is a snapshot, and your back-and-forth enriches the site, so it's useful for those who want to drill down deeper into each issue raised and see alternate points of view. For that I am very grateful.

The post that just went up is likely to be somewhat controversial as well, about the Gulen movement, but this coming week I am posting on musicians, and will almost certainly be going to Izmir to hear the perspective there.

Right now I'm meeting up with a reader named Holiday in Taksim Square. She got in touch when I was still in the U.S. to let me know she'd be here. Should be an interesting time. I will be back and spend much of the day tomorrow responding to the comments raised over the past week.

Joe Stewart:

You say:

"What happened to the "Bush doctrine"? Remember, it was about attacking to the countries which harbour terrorists. North of Iraq is exactly doing just that. Iraqi president says now (These days he changes his tune almost hourly!) that Iraq can not control where PKK is. Well, if you can't do it, let Turkey do it. Actually, Iraqi government has less power than Greenpeace. As an occupying force, it's US' responsability to find these terrorists and handover to Turkey."

OHHHH YOU FORGOT...! US is supplying PKK with full logistics, training and weapons to attack Iran. OH! I forgot that PKK that attacks Iran is called PJAK, which is conveniently NOT classified as "terrorist organisation", but PKK is. They both are the same terrorists! What did you say? "The King of Double Standards"? You've got it!

Cihangir:

I just missed these important 2 points:

1-What happened to the "Bush doctrine"? Remember, it was about attacking to the countries which harbour terrorists. North of Iraq is exactly doing just that. Iraqi president says now (These days he changes his tune almost hourly!) that Iraq can not control where PKK is. Well, if you can't do it, let Turkey do it. Actually, Iraqi government has less power than Greenpeace. As an occupying force, it's US' responsability to find these terrorists and handover to Turkey.

2-Not too long ago, US media and US president Bush kept saying: "Israel has every right to defend itself" They were just about to wipe off Lebanon off the map. Who's there now to protect Lebenon? Turkish soldiers! Who're in Afghanistan? Turkish soldiers? Turkey did not want to join "coalation of the willing" in Iraq, on the sole basis of being a neighbor and we'll look at each-other after the US is gone. (That does not seem like is going to happen any time soon.)

Now Turkey needs to defend itself. Millions are on the streets demanding the government to finish this up for once and for all! We're not allowed, apperantly.

The King of double standards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cihangir:

Well, I have read ALL the comments. I will list some FACTS, because there are many "out to lunch" statements here.

1-Throughout the history, Kurds have remained nomads and have not even formed a small kingdom, EVER. "Kurdistan" first pronounced by UK politicians who were looking for any ethnic group to form in order to break up OSMANLI (Ottoman) Empire at the end of WW-I. Kurds are tribal people. The people in each tribe, are loyal to their "Reis" or chief to the death. This loyalty comes from the land ownership of each chief, who usually owns the villages, including the people. They have a few really bad habits. One is the bloodfighting. It's not unusual to spark a deadly fight over a cow or a few feet of agricultural land dispute. It'd be fine if that ends there, but it doesn't, until ALL of the male members of the family kill each-other for decades! If a married woman is talking or looking at another male, it often ends up with execution of the wife, and that is called "cleaning one's honour." It's well accepted by the Kurdish society. Individually wonderful people, but within their own society, they tend to jump on any bandwagon due to their high degree of loyalty and fearlessness. As the expression goes: "Fear, as wellas fearlessness comes from ignorence." Education is not something they usually cared until recently. Turkish government's fault is big there, but cold war and freaky Iran also caused that area to remain underdevelopped. I never forget. In the late 70's, the government built a new housing after a devestating earthquake in Eastern Turkey. Kurds kept their cows in these brand-new homes, and they built their own homes from rocks, mud, hay and cow manure used as mortar. They just didn't know any better.

2-In the early 90's Present Iraqi Kurdish leader M. Barzani and J. Talabani were given Turkish diplomatic passports so they can travel all over the world for their cause, because Saddam treated them as cattle. Turkwy has also accepted over a million Kurds running from Saddam's army during the first gulf war. Turkey also allowed its air space and US air base in its soil to protect Kurds from Saddam after the 1st. Gulf War with "Northen no fly zone" until US' 2003 Iraq invasion.

3-Kurds have been in Turkish parliament since the 20's. Thanks to their feodal/tribal structure, almost always those tribal leaders are voted as the regional representatives in Turkish Parliament. Unfortunately, these characters only filled their own pockets with either land-realestate/construction/development deals/jobs and using their own people as slaves in other parts of Turkey (whereever the construction was) making them work just for food and shelter, abusing the loyalty of the kurds from his own tribe. In brief, Kurds have been having their own voice in the parliament for decades, but their voted and also tribal leaders have done nothing other than using their status to fill their own pockets. Many, probably 100's of thousands of Kurds have been enjoying prosperous and successful businesmen, actors, singers, politicians, governors and even prime minister! Nobody in Turkey looked at any Kurd or any other ethnicity in a wrong, degrading and even disgusted way like the caucasions used to towards the blacks in the "land of the free" USA. So, don't even go there. There's no racism in Turkey towards Kurds.

4-PKK is indeed a terrorist organization, which have not hasiteted to kill unsupportive Kurds with their babies, women and childeren. PKK militants/terrorists ambush novice Turkish soldiers who were in their early 20's to do their mandatory military service. In other words easy targets. (Actually I blame Turkish army for not keeping professional special forces close to the Southern border!) They always attack in a coward way, just like any other terrorist. Additionally, civilian bombings, machine gun fire to police stations in big cities and killing or kidnapping Europen tourists from the coastal touristic towns. These are the hallmarks of what the terrorists do. Please spare me the "Let's find a political solution to this" story! Right now there are 35 Kurdish politicians in the house. What do they do? Keep saying "we're peaceful but don't ask us to call PKK terrorists, furthermore, they do nothing to stop PKK violance.

5-USA wants the water and oil fields in Northern Iraq -as well as the south- and in Southeast Turkey. Since they can not invade a NATO member, this is their plan. Have you ever wondered why Kurds don't fight for any land or rights or whatever they want in Iran, Iraq or Syria? Why even they're still fighting with Turkey when they're just about to create their own country in Northern Iraq? Ironically, as of now, Kurds are only able to get somewhere within the democratic society in Turkey, not in Syria, nor Iran. That's because US wants Turkey for its natural resources and strategic location. That's why. Bush is just about to start WW-III. We've never been chewed off easily in the history. Somebody needs to teach him some history! He's insane. Actually he should be charged as war criminal for killing 100's of thousands of innocent Iraqis as well as over 4000+3000=7000 Americans. At least he should be impeached while he's a president, who does not deserve to retire honorably. USA, 50+ year ally turning enemy.

There are many more things to write but this is enough now.

RE:MIKE:

I rest my case.

RE:MIKE:

Do not worry I am not an immigrant in your country.

Mike:

"In US, minorities have the liberties to serve table and wash the dishes. "

Why are yu in our country if you have such contempt for it? Why don't you leave?

noted:

Dr. Rashid Karadaghi,
Thanks for your threats. I will make sure my friends are thrilled with your stance as well. Do you want to add anything else? It was really enlightening, expect one thing:

When you say "..will be true to their age-old tradition..." do you mean terrrorism?

ethnicities:

I have been asked about Istanbul so many times. Is it like New York Or San Francisco? Is it big like Paris or small like Rome? People like to simplify things and the easiest way is using an analogy. No matter how wrong it is an analogy can give the reader the satisfaction she needs "I got it! It is like part of New York and part of Boston. Do you drive on the right side of the road?"

Growing in Siatnbul and living in New York. I can assure everyone that Black-White issue has no similarities to Kurd-Turk issue.

In US, minorities have the liberties to serve table and wash the dishes.

Maybe we should adapt the US model. Kurds are minority, we Turks are the real owners of the country ;) We can add the ethnicity to the IDs, registration forms, etc. Let's change the school system so that good schools are only accessible to certain neighborhoods, where Turks are the majority. Kurds should start going to their own restaurants and bars. Turks have their own. We should make sure the tax collected from Turks are not spent on the Kurdish regions.

Then we can focus on the crime, literacy, etc rates to come up with theories.

ethnicities:

I have been asked about Istanbul so many times. Is it like New York Or San Francisco? Is it big like Paris or small like Rome? People like to simplify things and the easiest way is using an analogy. No matter how wrong it is an analogy can give the reader the satisfaction she needs "I got it! It is like part of New York and part of Boston. Do you drive on the right side of the road?"

Growing in Siatnbul and living in New York. I can assure everyone that Black-White issue has no similarities to Kurd-Turk issue.

In US, minorities have the liberties to serve table and wash the dishes.

Maybe we should adapt the US model. Kurds are minority, we Turks are the real owners of the country ;) We can add the ethnicity to the IDs, registration forms, etc. Let's change the school system so that good schools are only accessible to certain neighborhoods, where Turks are the majority. Kurds should start going to their own restaurants and bars. Turks have their own. We should make sure the tax collected from Turks are not spent on the Kurdish regions.

Then we can focus on the crime, literacy, etc rates to come up with theories.

joe:

Turkey.
Mmmmm.
Curds and Whey.
Mmmmm.
Thanksgiving!

Anonymous:

Turkey.
Mmmmm.
Curds and Whey.
Mmmmm.
Thanksgiving!

turkey?:

I thought you would write about Turkey.

turkey?:

I thought you would write about Turkey.

Dr. Rashid Karadaghi:

The Kurds and Turkey: Victim and Victimizer :

The ancient, deep-rooted conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish people is flaring up again, fueled by the Turkish obsession to keep the Kurds, all Kurds everywhere, in chains and in the box that the occupiers of Kurdistan have put them in. The Turkish racist, militaristic state, mislabeled erroneously by many who are blinded by their perceived self-interest as “moderate” and “democratic,” cannot tolerate seeing the Kurds just south of their part of occupied Kurdistan in charge of running their own affairs and enjoying freedom and security, and having a government, a parliament, a disciplined army of freedom fighters (the Peshmargas), and a president. For many years now, the Turks have been issuing their frequent and usual threats that they will not tolerate even an autonomous Kurdish region with expanded authority, let alone an independent Kurdish state, as if it was their mission to do everything in their power to keep the Kurds anywhere in the world from attaining their freedom and their national rights.


Having the enormous power of the state and control of the mass media, Turkey has succeeded, unfortunately, in convincing the powers-to-be in the world that it is the victim in this perennial conflict with the Kurds. Nothing could be further from the truth, for Turkey continues to victimize the Kurds by committing organized, state terrorism against them within its borders and is about to commit, as it has done in the past, terrorist activities against their brethren beyond those borders, too.


Looked at in isolation, the recent violent acts against Turkish troops may seem to suggest that Turkey is the victim. However, as much as this writer is against violence of any sort and from any side regardless of the justifications, these incidents must be looked at in the context of one hundred years, not counting six centuries of the cruel Ottoman rule, of abuse and terror by the Turkish state against the Kurdish people for no reason other than being Kurds. Let no one be deceived by Turkish propaganda about cosmetic “reforms,” for twenty million Kurds are still viewed as sub-human by Turkey, subjected to daily terror by the state, and denied even the most elementary of human rights, which is using one’s own language in education and communication.


How can Turkey or anyone else expect the Kurds to keep quiet forever in the face of the inhuman treatment they are getting from the state that is supposed to nurture them and treat them with dignity as a people with their own identity? It would take a thick book to narrate all the atrocities Turkey has committed against the Kurdish people since the establishment of modern Turkey following WW1. So, who is the real victim and who is the real victimizer in this conflict?


The world must realize, and so must the Turks, that at the root of the current conflict there is a very obvious and fundamental problem, namely, that a nation of over thirty-five million people is being denied its most basic rights, a condition they will no longer accept regardless of the consequences. Why is this simple truth hard to understand? Until and unless the occupiers of Kurdistan --- be they Turks, Arabs, or Persians --- wake up to the fact that they can no longer rule over the Kurds and their homeland and deny them their God-given rights, there can be no peace in the area and everybody will be the poorer for it.


The Turkish parliament made a historic blunder last week by giving the trigger-happy Turkish army a free hand to conduct military operations in South Kurdistan presumably to pursue PKK fighters. Ostensibly, the Turks are after the PKK, but every Kurd and anyone familiar with this ancient conflict knows that the real goal of any operation will be to destabilize the stable situation in South Kurdistan. Turkey has been trying desperately to use its agents to create trouble for the Kurds in South Kurdistan since the Iraqi liberation in 2003 and is now seizing on this situation as a golden opportunity to meddle in Kurdistan’s affairs directly. But if the Turks think it is that easy to achieve their evil goal, they are mistaken.


The Turks are making a big miscalculation if they think that the Kurdish people are going to give up the freedoms they have achieved with the blood of untold thousands to Saddam’s (and previous Iraqi governments’) tyranny without a fight. If Turkey thinks this is going to be another Cypress, it should think again. There is no doubt that the Kurds will get hurt in any confrontation, which is why they hope Turkey will reconsider its aggressive posture and let reason win over arrogance, but there should also be no doubt that they will inflict more damage on the invading army than they will receive.


Bloodshed and violence cannot solve the fundamental conflict between Turkey and the Kurds, but recognizing that the Kurds are a people with their own identity and aspirations for freedom might. This is why the Kurdish leadership in South Kurdistan has repeatedly called for dialogue in the hope that bloodshed can be averted. However, statements such as the one made by the Turkish deputy prime minister, which is typical of statements made by other Turkish officials also, that Turkey “Does not talk with Iraqi Kurdish groups,” do not signal any willingness to search for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. While the Kurds are trying to defuse the crisis through dialogue, the Turks are escalating it by their arrogance and their refusal to recognize that there is a legitimate government in South Kurdistan with which they should talk directly.


The Kurds don’t want this fight, but if it is imposed on them, no one should doubt that they will be true to their age-old tradition and defend themselves against any aggression. Turkey must also realize that the very thing it fears most may happen sooner than later if it carries out its foolish threats.

karwan Qadir:

Defending Kurdistan :

The most critical issue on almost all Kurds' minds is the talks of a Turkish invasion. The Turkish parliament finally approved a resolution granting the military approval to invade Southern Kurdistan (also known as northern Iraq). Turkish politicians and generals claim that their purpose for the invasion is to destroy PKK camps in the region. However, the reality is that Turkey is disturbed by the autonomy Kurds have gained in Iraq. They are disturbed by the growing international acknowledgment of a Kurdistan that lingers along their border and the legitimacy that Kurds have been able to achieve. As a response, the Turkish state has taken several steps in addition to the 400,000 soldiers that have been deployed along the Turkish-Iraqi border. They have sent messages to the Iraqi government demanding arrests of 140 individuals (36 of which are in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)). They have even went as far to demand the arrest of the President of the Kurdistan region's son. The Turks have even already begun launching small operations along the border this week but were stopped short in their tracks when Kurdish rebels effectively ambushed their troops and destroyed their plans. But most importantly in addition to all these things, Turks have ignored all Kurdish calls for a peaceful solution and have effectively rejected political dialogue with Kurds on all accounts.


However, Kurds will not be so quick to adhere to Turkish demands. Despite all the domestic problems, corruption, and democratic issues that Kurds face in their own semi-autonomous region, the Kurds realize what they have gained in Iraq is their right and nothing like they've ever experienced before. Kurds realize that this Kurdistan state that they have been able to create and maintain in northern Iraq is the ultimate prize of all Kurds. This is a prize that Kurds have been trying to win for generations upon generations. Through all the injustice and genocide against the Kurdish people by the oppressive states surrounding and occupying them, Kurds have finally earned their own state to rule their own affairs. They have finally seen peace in a region of the world that is infamous for war. Even during a bloody Iraqi war, Kurdistan remains the only peaceful region. Hence, politicians and generals in Turkey should be considered foolish if they believe Kurds would be willing to give up their own rights so easily.


In a recent speech to his people, the Kurdistan region's president, Massoud Barzani, declared that Kurds would not accept any offer from Turkey outside of peace and dialogue. Many Kurdish politicians like Barzani have come to realize that the PKK problem stems from Turkey's own problem with Kurds. The Turkish state has oppressed the Kurdish people for decades upon decades and has denied them their political, economic, social and cultural rights. Rather than tackling these issues and granting Kurds their rights, the Turkish State has believed in the use of force to further suppress and oppress their Kurdish minority.


This Turkish suppression and oppression was once believed to only be used against Kurds in Turkey. However, now, the Turkish state has decided to try and directly enforce these same anti-Kurdish policies against Kurds across the border in Iraq.


It is natural that the Kurdish reaction to Turkish aggression will be what is just: Resistance. Kurds have reacted by coming together as a united people like no other time before. Kurds have launched protests all over Southern Kurdistan and have pledged to resist Turkish aggression. Kurdish politicians in the Kurdistan Regional Government all the way to Kurdish rebel leaders in the mountains of Qandil have pledged to defend the Kurdish people's semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in Iraq to the last drop of blood. Kurdish youth have formed groups pledging to join the resistance if Turkey should invade. Peshmerga forces are growing as Kurds begin to understand the reality behind the Turkish threat. Few nations understand such threats like the Kurds do. This is a nation who has struggled under Iranian, Turkish, Syrian and Iraqi regimes for decades (if not centuries). And the Kurds in Southern Kurdistan understand that just as they resisted against Saddam when he plotted to annihilate the Kurdish people, they must resist against the Turkish government who is plotting to annihilate them.


This is why Kurds are united; their very existence as a nation is at risk. Turkish aggression like aggressions from other past and present regimes is calling to wipe Kurds off the map and destroy all they have gained. The Turkish military and government claims they wish to invade Southern Kurdistan for a few hundred rebels when there are thousands in their own territories. The Turkish military and government's true wish is to invade Southern Kurdistan for the few million Kurds who have gained the rights that the Turkish government has worked so hard to deny to their own Kurdish minority. However, aside from these threats, Kurds know their solidarity with one another is the key to their success. Kurds understand that so long as they rightfully stand by one another, no force can strip them of their rights so easily. This is the reality of resistance.


However, aside from the tensions and the call for resistance, Kurds are still offering peace and Turkish politicians and generals who value the peace and stability of their own country, as well as the lives of their own soldiers, should consider this peace offering. The Turkish politicians and generals should come to realize that the days of forceful wars are over and that the days of dialogue are here. The Turkish politicians and generals should realize that there is a simple solution to their problem with Kurdish rebels. They should realize that this peaceful solution has been offered by the PKK and KRG over one year ago today when the PKK attempted to offer a ceasefire that the Turkish politicians and generals so quickly rejected. The Turkish politicians and generals should realize that this offer of peace still stands. And, at the very least for their own sake, begin peaceful dialogue with Kurds. Otherwise, as many Kurdish politicians and their people alike say, resistance will continue forever and the Turks will never find their solution.

Mufti Abdulla:

The Kurdish issue in Turkey need political solution :

Introduction


Historically, the Kurdish national movement originated in Turkey from the time when the Ottoman Empire controlled that region. The main rebellion which dominates the history of the Kurds in Turkey is that of the 1925 rebellion in Kurdistan region of Turkey which was led by Sheikh Said.


The suppression of the semi-independent Kurdish principalities by Ottoman Empire (1808 – 1839) caused the Kurdish movement to emerge as a national movement and did not originate due to any religious convictions as has been claimed by some historians. The Ottoman Empire was unable to centralise control however, but despite all these problems and further obstacles put up by their enemies, including European interference, the Kurds were able to demonstrate their determination to fill the vacuum which had been provided for the Sheiks to become more powerful and readied themselves to fill the vacuum that had been made possible to install a religious leader with the intention of proclaiming him national leader for the Kurds in both Iraq and Turkey.


Kurdish history has always shown the Kurdish nation to be a disintegrated people. This is recognised to have evolved, not only having suffered geographical dispersal, which in turn caused new dialects to emerge: yet another argument used against recognising the Kurds as a nation; but travelling problems and restrictions did not enable the Kurds to present themselves as a united people. In addition to the urban-rural dichotomy which undermined development of unified Kurdish nationalist organisations, intense rivalry among prominent feudal families further undermined this intent.


Each and all of these culminated to make the Kurds more vulnerable to their enemies whilst also making economic and social changes even more challenging and slow and encouraged further subordination to Central State.


Kurdish Nationalist movement in Turkey


When Sheik Ubaydallah established his position of power he believed he could use it to extend to Turkey and claim independent Kurdistan. But Sheik Ubaydallh’s dream was shattered when the local tribes betrayed him and Turkey took action against him to suppress the Kurdish nationalist movement. Ubaydallah,was captured by Ottoman empire forces in 1881 and eventually he died in exile 1883.


It is difficult to determine the population of Kurds in Turkey during the days of Ottoman rule as there had never been an independent census and the motion of the Kurds to be counted was ignored due to claims of ‘national security’ but has been estimated at 20 million people in Turkey .


In 1919 Mustafa Posh went to Istanbul in order to attempt to establish autonomy for the Kurds and to set up branches of the society for the rise of Kurdistan .These efforts attracted the attention of Mustafa Kemal Attaturk in early September 1919 who began discussions with Alishan Beg, the son of Mustafa Pash the main leader of the Kachgirei tribes who told Mustafa Kemel that the Kurds in Turkey should follow the advice of President Wilson who had laid out a document establishing fourteen points. Mustafa Kemel replied that American President Wilson’s points were not for the Kurds and indicated that the fourteen points would not help the Kurds to work in support of the rise of Kurdistan.


The repression and aggression of Kemalist secularism followed and all public manifestations of Kurdish identity was outlawed which, in turn, prepared Kurds for more rebellion. The revolt of Sheikh Said of Piran began in February 1925 .Of almost 15000 fighters who participated in the rebellion against the 52,000 genderma (Turkish soldiers), the main Kurdish tribes participating in the rebellion came from Zaza. The rebellion covered most of the part of Amed (Diyarbakir) and Marden. The Sheikh Said rebellion was the first large scale rebellion of the Kurdish national movement in Turkey. The main organiser of this rebellion was the Kurdish Independent Society, Azadi. Azadi’s intention was to liberate Kurds from Turkish oppression and thus deliver freedom and further, develop their country.


The rebellion failed however and, by 1929, Ihsan Nuri’s movement was in control of a large expanse of Kurdish territory and, with help from Iran, the revolt was put down by the year 1930.


The third largest revolt of Shaikh Sayyed Reza’s took place in Dersim in the north western region of Turkish Kurdistan. This revolt started in1937 and lasted till 1938 but was crushed by the Turkish army. From the trauma and agony of Dersim emerged a new quiet phase of the Kurdistan struggle for independent in Turkey ,which phase lasted till 1960.


In the aftermath of the rebellion Turkish policy became clear as they conducted mass killings and deportation of villagers throughout the Kurdish area wherever it was suspected that there was support for the uprising.


The PKK and the fight for Kurdish Independence


In the summer of 1984, the PKK announced the formation of the Kurdistan Liberation Brigades. These brigades had arisen as a result of suppression of the Kurds by Kemalist policies. The PKK was born in response to inequality, torture, suppression and alienation of the Kurdish people in Turkey. From the early days the PKK advocated the Stalinist style of power and military .Desperation and depression drove them to plan violence against their enemies. They were ruthless to the extent that, should anybody try to leave the party they would be summarily executed. They did not have the support of the Kurdish majority other than in Turkey where those Kurds adopted them, giving them shelter and protection.


The rise of PKK in 1980s gave power to the movement which enabled them to dominate in Turkish politics to the extent that Ozal’s dramatic admission of Turkey’s multi-ethnicity to the government’s inability to win the hearts and minds of the Kurdish people.


Dr Ismail Besikci, writer and historian, was given a long prison sentence simply for defending Kurdish rights; he had become a leading advocate, attracting international attention to the abuse of Kurdish rights in Turkey. On his release he published a further three studies on the same subject of the Kurds in Turkey but, in 1979, was yet again arrested and what was essentially the same charges that had been levied against him a few years earlier: his absolute intent to give support the establishment of a Kurdish state:


“The Kurds have lived in Kurdistan for 4000 years, whereas the Turks started to move from Central Asia through Khorssan into Iran, Kurdistan, Iraq, Syria and Anatolia in the second half of the eleventh century … they have lived on these lands for less than a thousand years. They have humiliated and degraded the original owners of these lands…. To wipe out the Kurdish nation ,its language and its culture is barbaric….The Turkish nation does not deserve to be known as the perpetrator of such barbarism….I want to dwell a little upon the concept of (national pride) wanting the Kurdish people to be free wanting them to live in equal conditions with the Turkish people Is taken to be propaganda undermining the national pride of the Turks .In fact ,demanding equality of the Kurdish people, or the removal of bans or Kurdish language and culture, definitely cannot undermine the national pride of the Turks .On the contrary, it would strengthen it since defence of human rights and freedoms strengthens national feelings.”


That this writer and historian gained such international acclaim and recognition for his work to ensure that the world has knowledge of the Kurdish issue and the Kurdish plight in Turkey created a large scale political dilemma for the Turkish government. Rather than changing things in response to the calls of the people of the world they appear to have resorted to even more acts of torture and repression. Thus, the cycle of seemingly inescapable poverty and desperation grows.


The PKK emerged from the ashes of Kurdish people in Turkey but should take time to consider their position and ensure their policies and actions are actually there to protect the Kurdish people. Also the Turkish establishment must realise that they cannot solve this problem militarily; especially after the capture of Abdulla Ocalan the leader to PKK in 1999 at which time they were adamant that the Kurdish problem in Turkey had been eradicated. That was and is certainly not true as the Kurds have a right for self determination. What has and is happening in Turkey has come about because of Turkish stubbornness: the Turkish state can not root out the PKK and the political solution, which should be the real answer to it all, is not being satisfactorily addressed. The Turkish state can not suppress the hopes and dreams of a better future and an honest democracy for all the poor people in Kurdistan.


The postponement of the Turkish invasion to Northern Iraq is hard to credit the Turks with: the reasons are a blend of antique ideology and cynical opportunism.


The Kurdish people in Turkey ask for simple liberty and freedom.


Let me outline the most frightening aspects of Turkish invasion of Northern Iraq which appears as follows:


• Further chaos and unrest will bring more recruit willing to lay down their lives to the terrorist and armed militia group in the middle east in the belief that this will speed up the process which, after all has been ongoing for centuries


• The Kurds are a peaceful nation who want only to live with a national identity and further invasion or threats of invasion will jeopardise the policies set out by the Kurdish government. It appears clear that the Turkish agenda is actually to attack the Kurdish government and are using the PKK as an excuse.


In conclusion, the problems of the Kurds in Turkey does not require military or aggressive attention rather it needs sensibly projected political solutions which should be clear as military aggression has failed to solve anything over the last two decades. The Turkish establishment would begin to make ground to solve the prolonged problems in the following ways:


• As the Kurdish people make up one third of the Turkish population it is desirable that the Constitution is amended to include the rights of those people thus giving the Kurds the right to self-determination


• Follow the example of the British who called the IRA to the conference table, or as the Israelis’ did when they talked with the PLO and invite the PKK to the conference table


• Call an armistice by releasing prisoners who have been unnecessarily jailed and compensate the villages which have lost so much as a result of futile war.


• Allow democracy to shine through by allowing non violent Kurdish political groups and parties to participate in general policy making of the country. Through a change in Constitution it would be possible for International protocol to protect the rights of the Kurdish people


• Withdraw all military threats and outfits from the Kurdish areas.

Mufid Abdulla:

The Kurdish issue in Turkey need political solution :

Introduction


Historically, the Kurdish national movement originated in Turkey from the time when the Ottoman Empire controlled that region. The main rebellion which dominates the history of the Kurds in Turkey is that of the 1925 rebellion in Kurdistan region of Turkey which was led by Sheikh Said.


The suppression of the semi-independent Kurdish principalities by Ottoman Empire (1808 – 1839) caused the Kurdish movement to emerge as a national movement and did not originate due to any religious convictions as has been claimed by some historians. The Ottoman Empire was unable to centralise control however, but despite all these problems and further obstacles put up by their enemies, including European interference, the Kurds were able to demonstrate their determination to fill the vacuum which had been provided for the Sheiks to become more powerful and readied themselves to fill the vacuum that had been made possible to install a religious leader with the intention of proclaiming him national leader for the Kurds in both Iraq and Turkey.


Kurdish history has always shown the Kurdish nation to be a disintegrated people. This is recognised to have evolved, not only having suffered geographical dispersal, which in turn caused new dialects to emerge: yet another argument used against recognising the Kurds as a nation; but travelling problems and restrictions did not enable the Kurds to present themselves as a united people. In addition to the urban-rural dichotomy which undermined development of unified Kurdish nationalist organisations, intense rivalry among prominent feudal families further undermined this intent.


Each and all of these culminated to make the Kurds more vulnerable to their enemies whilst also making economic and social changes even more challenging and slow and encouraged further subordination to Central State.


Kurdish Nationalist movement in Turkey


When Sheik Ubaydallah established his position of power he believed he could use it to extend to Turkey and claim independent Kurdistan. But Sheik Ubaydallh’s dream was shattered when the local tribes betrayed him and Turkey took action against him to suppress the Kurdish nationalist movement. Ubaydallah,was captured by Ottoman empire forces in 1881 and eventually he died in exile 1883.


It is difficult to determine the population of Kurds in Turkey during the days of Ottoman rule as there had never been an independent census and the motion of the Kurds to be counted was ignored due to claims of ‘national security’ but has been estimated at 20 million people in Turkey .


In 1919 Mustafa Posh went to Istanbul in order to attempt to establish autonomy for the Kurds and to set up branches of the society for the rise of Kurdistan .These efforts attracted the attention of Mustafa Kemal Attaturk in early September 1919 who began discussions with Alishan Beg, the son of Mustafa Pash the main leader of the Kachgirei tribes who told Mustafa Kemel that the Kurds in Turkey should follow the advice of President Wilson who had laid out a document establishing fourteen points. Mustafa Kemel replied that American President Wilson’s points were not for the Kurds and indicated that the fourteen points would not help the Kurds to work in support of the rise of Kurdistan.


The repression and aggression of Kemalist secularism followed and all public manifestations of Kurdish identity was outlawed which, in turn, prepared Kurds for more rebellion. The revolt of Sheikh Said of Piran began in February 1925 .Of almost 15000 fighters who participated in the rebellion against the 52,000 genderma (Turkish soldiers), the main Kurdish tribes participating in the rebellion came from Zaza. The rebellion covered most of the part of Amed (Diyarbakir) and Marden. The Sheikh Said rebellion was the first large scale rebellion of the Kurdish national movement in Turkey. The main organiser of this rebellion was the Kurdish Independent Society, Azadi. Azadi’s intention was to liberate Kurds from Turkish oppression and thus deliver freedom and further, develop their country.


The rebellion failed however and, by 1929, Ihsan Nuri’s movement was in control of a large expanse of Kurdish territory and, with help from Iran, the revolt was put down by the year 1930.


The third largest revolt of Shaikh Sayyed Reza’s took place in Dersim in the north western region of Turkish Kurdistan. This revolt started in1937 and lasted till 1938 but was crushed by the Turkish army. From the trauma and agony of Dersim emerged a new quiet phase of the Kurdistan struggle for independent in Turkey ,which phase lasted till 1960.


In the aftermath of the rebellion Turkish policy became clear as they conducted mass killings and deportation of villagers throughout the Kurdish area wherever it was suspected that there was support for the uprising.


The PKK and the fight for Kurdish Independence


In the summer of 1984, the PKK announced the formation of the Kurdistan Liberation Brigades. These brigades had arisen as a result of suppression of the Kurds by Kemalist policies. The PKK was born in response to inequality, torture, suppression and alienation of the Kurdish people in Turkey. From the early days the PKK advocated the Stalinist style of power and military .Desperation and depression drove them to plan violence against their enemies. They were ruthless to the extent that, should anybody try to leave the party they would be summarily executed. They did not have the support of the Kurdish majority other than in Turkey where those Kurds adopted them, giving them shelter and protection.


The rise of PKK in 1980s gave power to the movement which enabled them to dominate in Turkish politics to the extent that Ozal’s dramatic admission of Turkey’s multi-ethnicity to the government’s inability to win the hearts and minds of the Kurdish people.


Dr Ismail Besikci, writer and historian, was given a long prison sentence simply for defending Kurdish rights; he had become a leading advocate, attracting international attention to the abuse of Kurdish rights in Turkey. On his release he published a further three studies on the same subject of the Kurds in Turkey but, in 1979, was yet again arrested and what was essentially the same charges that had been levied against him a few years earlier: his absolute intent to give support the establishment of a Kurdish state:


“The Kurds have lived in Kurdistan for 4000 years, whereas the Turks started to move from Central Asia through Khorssan into Iran, Kurdistan, Iraq, Syria and Anatolia in the second half of the eleventh century … they have lived on these lands for less than a thousand years. They have humiliated and degraded the original owners of these lands…. To wipe out the Kurdish nation ,its language and its culture is barbaric….The Turkish nation does not deserve to be known as the perpetrator of such barbarism….I want to dwell a little upon the concept of (national pride) wanting the Kurdish people to be free wanting them to live in equal conditions with the Turkish people Is taken to be propaganda undermining the national pride of the Turks .In fact ,demanding equality of the Kurdish people, or the removal of bans or Kurdish language and culture, definitely cannot undermine the national pride of the Turks .On the contrary, it would strengthen it since defence of human rights and freedoms strengthens national feelings.”


That this writer and historian gained such international acclaim and recognition for his work to ensure that the world has knowledge of the Kurdish issue and the Kurdish plight in Turkey created a large scale political dilemma for the Turkish government. Rather than changing things in response to the calls of the people of the world they appear to have resorted to even more acts of torture and repression. Thus, the cycle of seemingly inescapable poverty and desperation grows.


The PKK emerged from the ashes of Kurdish people in Turkey but should take time to consider their position and ensure their policies and actions are actually there to protect the Kurdish people. Also the Turkish establishment must realise that they cannot solve this problem militarily; especially after the capture of Abdulla Ocalan the leader to PKK in 1999 at which time they were adamant that the Kurdish problem in Turkey had been eradicated. That was and is certainly not true as the Kurds have a right for self determination. What has and is happening in Turkey has come about because of Turkish stubbornness: the Turkish state can not root out the PKK and the political solution, which should be the real answer to it all, is not being satisfactorily addressed. The Turkish state can not suppress the hopes and dreams of a better future and an honest democracy for all the poor people in Kurdistan.


The postponement of the Turkish invasion to Northern Iraq is hard to credit the Turks with: the reasons are a blend of antique ideology and cynical opportunism.


The Kurdish people in Turkey ask for simple liberty and freedom.


Let me outline the most frightening aspects of Turkish invasion of Northern Iraq which appears as follows:


• Further chaos and unrest will bring more recruit willing to lay down their lives to the terrorist and armed militia group in the middle east in the belief that this will speed up the process which, after all has been ongoing for centuries


• The Kurds are a peaceful nation who want only to live with a national identity and further invasion or threats of invasion will jeopardise the policies set out by the Kurdish government. It appears clear that the Turkish agenda is actually to attack the Kurdish government and are using the PKK as an excuse.


In conclusion, the problems of the Kurds in Turkey does not require military or aggressive attention rather it needs sensibly projected political solutions which should be clear as military aggression has failed to solve anything over the last two decades. The Turkish establishment would begin to make ground to solve the prolonged problems in the following ways:


• As the Kurdish people make up one third of the Turkish population it is desirable that the Constitution is amended to include the rights of those people thus giving the Kurds the right to self-determination


• Follow the example of the British who called the IRA to the conference table, or as the Israelis’ did when they talked with the PLO and invite the PKK to the conference table


• Call an armistice by releasing prisoners who have been unnecessarily jailed and compensate the villages which have lost so much as a result of futile war.


• Allow democracy to shine through by allowing non violent Kurdish political groups and parties to participate in general policy making of the country. Through a change in Constitution it would be possible for International protocol to protect the rights of the Kurdish people


• Withdraw all military threats and outfits from the Kurdish areas.

Aland Mizell :

The Status of the Minorities in South East Asia: Why Can’t Turkey Be Like the Philippines?

University of Texas at Dallas school of social science

The Philippine nation is a pluralistic society and culture compared to other South East Asian countries in the region. The direction the Philippines has taken since her colonial days has been toward the integration of small, more diverse tribal communities into a more developing nation with the nation’s desired goal being to bring about a cohesive society under the unifying umbrella of institutional processes. There are many tribal languages spoken in the Philippines , especially among the Muslim minority. For example, a member of the Maranao tribe speaks Maranao, and one belonging to the Tausog tribe speaks the Tausug tribal language. The Philippine government never forced minorities to speak Tagalog, the Philippine national language. Of the 175 languages, 171 are living and only 4 are extinct, making a very diversified and rich linguistic map (Ethnologue 2007). The pluralistic nature of the Philippine society is very interesting to study in the areas of ethnic, racial, and religious relations compared to Turkey, because the Turkish nation is also a pluralistic society and culture populated by many ethnic minorities, like the Kurds, Armenians, Jews, Central Asians, and those from the Balkans; however, the direction the Turkish government has taken is not toward integration into a more diverse, tolerant society or a more educated and developing nation, but rather the direction the Turkish government has taken is to continue to deny differences, a denial based on a more racist and nationalistic approach.

Like the Turkish government, the Philippine government constitutionally remains a secular state, but unlike the Turkish government, it neither supports nor discriminates against any religious group, institution, or people according to the constitutional principles. In the Philippines , most people classify themselves along sectarian lines. However, religious fanatic groups in the Philippines are trying to divide the social structure of the nation instead of trying to unify it into a common homeland under the Philippine government. They use the drug of religion to combat against governmental efforts. Instead of fighting against poverty and illiteracy and of maintaining security and building the economy, the fanatics create problems, so that investments do not go to the rural areas. As a consequence of the violence, Muslims pay the price. Even though in the past the government discriminated against minorities, now it has recognized these past mistakes and has compensated through a program of reconciliation and autonomy. However, the Turkish government has had no reconciliation programs to reconsider the taboos against the Kurds. Just recently, the head of the Turkish Historical Society, TTK, Professor Halacoglu, argued that the Kurds actually are Turkmen and that the Alevi Kurds are Armenian. Indeed, this is the history that the Turkish government teaches to young generations with misinformation about Kurdish history. The history professor lays no claims to having foresight or pre-science, and he has studied history just enough to know that he does not know enough to risk predicting what the future holds for the Kurds. He has eyes, though, and so he is in a position to ask readers to gaze in a certain direction and determine whether they also see what he sees. This kind of professor needs to wear glasses because his eyes suffer from myopia, and, therefore, it is entirely possible that his claim rests on evidence that either results from not seeing all there is to see or from being based on what he thinks he sees. Also, a few years ago Bogazici University in Istanbul held an international conference, but the TTK pulled its funding and support when it learned that a paper on the Kurds and another on the Armenians were to be presented. The Turkish government has held this kind of groundless history for decades. However, Turkey is preparing to join the world class, so I wonder if Turkey will relinquish her narrow ideas based on a nationalistic view that denies minorities’ right to exist or if it will follow the path of Europeans who strongly believe that respect for human rights is one of the most fundamental and universal values of our world. According to Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Human Rights Commissioner for External Relations in the European Neighborhood Policy, “All of us, in our official capacity have an obligation to promote and protect the rights of our fellow members of the human family, be that at home or elsewhere in the world” (2005).

By contrast to Turkey with its land mass being contiguous, the territorial setting of the Philippines is comprised of more than seven thousands islands, a reality that creates problems because of isolation and communication gaps. Yet, in spite of these natural difficulties arising out of its being an archipelago, the Philippines government is committed to overcoming these complexities and to narrowing the gaps. However, it is true to say that the Philippine government in the past has neglected the southern part of country, or consistently has used assimilation and discrimination policies against the Muslim minorities in that region. Proselytizing the indigenous tribes with their religions based primarily on animism, Islam was introduced to Mindanao and the Sulu Islands in the 15th century, and affected not only the religious order but the political and social system as well, establishing sultanates and bringing the barangays or kinship groups under the control of powerful datus or chieftains.. After this period of Islamic proselytism, Muslims in the southern Philippines consider themselves native since they preceded the Spaniard colonization that began with the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Today, however, the Philippine government has admitted that the government’s past policy was wrong and unjust. The government has given a large degree of freedom in the area ranging from education to autonomous self-rule. It has created a special Muslim curriculum, Muslim institutions, and scholarship programs exclusively for the Muslim minorities. For example, Mindanao State University (MSU) is located in Marawi City , where the majority of the population is Muslim. The tuition is very inexpensive compared to other universities in the region.

When I interviewed, Dr. Tamano, a prominent Muslim, who is highly educated and enjoys a high profile, he was Secretary of the Autonomous Region in the Muslim Mindanao, Muslim advisor to the regional Department of Education, and acting Vice- President of Mindanao State University (2007). He also ran for governor but lost because of election fraud. He is now Chancellor of Mindanao State University. I asked him, “What is the Moro question?” If Muslims have their own autonomous region, their self rule, education, language, and culture, what do Muslims want? Why are they still fighting for? He told me that when the Spaniards came for three Gs--GOD, Glory and Gold. “They tried to take our land from us and to force us to believe their God. That’s why Muslims resisted them until today. That was a just war, and that’s why we won.” He explained the difference now, “But today we are fighting the wrong war, because the government now recognizes her past mistake and has given us all opportunities to catch up with the rest of society, in terms of education and economics.” Muslims have a higher illiteracy rate than the Catholic Christians. There is such a disparity between the Catholic majority and the Muslim minority in terms of poverty. He continued, “That is what Muslim leaders in the Philippines should be fighting for. They are supposed to unify to eliminate poverty, narrow the educational gaps, and create peace so that people can have jobs, but sometimes Muslims fight among themselves, especially when an election comes. Some of the leaders want the Muslim candidates to use religion as a scapegoat to gain political power for themselves.” Also, a lack of Muslim leadership among the Muslim minority perpetuates the problems. He told me to look at his university as a good example. The government has given every opportunity for Muslims to be educated and to have skills as well as good jobs. He referred to education as “the right education,” one that teaches Islam but an Islam that is compatible with science. In his view, Muslims should learn science and skills as well as their religion.

Also, I visited the Mayor of Davao City, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is well known for making the city safe and free from the corruption of drug-dealing. He has a zero tolerance against drugs and other illegal activity. Today there is only one city in the Mindanao region that is safe, and it is Davao . When I asked him, “How did you do that?” Mayor Duterte told me that the Philippine government policy had been wrong in the past. He did not have any intention to follow the wrong policy of the government. The mayor said that the state is not a moral agent; people are, and as such, they can impose moral principles on powerful institutions. He said that he talked to everybody especially the rebels and implemented equal representation in his administration. He explained that he gave an equal voice and an equal role to every tribe to make sure each person was represented fairly and equally, and then he said he told them that there would be no more assassinations, kidnappings, or killings. That is why the city is safer today than before his coming to office. Mayor Duterte does not believe that using the military is a good solution to ethnic and religious conflict in his country. He believes we are all human beings, and as such, we all have rights inherent to that status. We all have dignity and worth that exist prior to law. That is a system in which words can change the whole structure of government, and words can prove stronger than numerous military divisions. That is why today Davao City is the safest city in the Philippines ; it is because of a good and strong mayor.

Good administration and politics emphasize rights, the superiority of law, duty, and the placement of responsible people in difficult jobs. According to the mayor, government means justice and public order. One cannot speak where those two do not exist. For Duterte, laws should be effective all the time, everywhere, and for everybody. This unity of feeling, thought, and culture are essential to the development of a strong nation because disintegration of moral unity causes that same nation to weaken.

Like more recently in the Philippines , in the 1960s America called for national integration to solve the problem of racism, and it implemented new policies to overcome the attitudes and practices that discriminated against the Blacks. Since it is hard to change what happened in the past, a society has to start at the present, so Turkey can change her attitude toward ethnic discrimination. To begin, the current leaders must realize Turkey’s guilt, get rid of their arrogance, seed humility, and exchange love, humility, kindness, and forgiveness for hate to make the present more comfortable and the future more hopeful. Peace will begin in the Kurdish region when oppression, cruelty, injustice and hunger end.

However, today the Turkish government lags behind the Philippine government in terms of its treatment of the minorities. An inquirer must ask why the law enforcement that serve in the Kurdish region are not Kurdish or at least speak Kurdish. Why are there no educational institutions that study Kurdology or that establish Kurdish institutes? Why can the Turkish government not create some kind of program like affirmative action that will allow for a narrowing of the educational gap between Kurdish minorities and the Turkish majority because illiteracy rates among the Kurds is higher than among the Turks. Why can the Turkish government not give some incentives to encourage economic progress? Kurds should be more organized and should educate themselves to realize that they would be better off if they made education a priority because education is mightier than the sword. The Kurdish culture and history should be allowed to exist in the open and also preserved, such as Kurdish names, and the Kurdish language. Why can the Turkish government not put forth some effort to foster civic engagement about the Kurdish question? Why can the Kurdish question not be discussed in the academic community? Why can the Turkish government not have some kind of scholarship program exclusively for the Kurdish minority to give them incentives to go to school? Why can the Kurds not have the same kind of autonomy that the Muslim minorities do in the Philippines ? The problem of the Kurds being subjected to objective analysis is that it necessarily requires assessment of the government’s adopted measures to effectively solve such problems. If the government denies the existence of the ethnic group, how can any kind of governmental analysis occur? Good government produces opportunities for each generation to have a developed faith, innovative technology and science, and a cultivated consciousness about their identity and their cultural values. If, by contrast, the people see the government as tyrannical or oppressive, then the nation has lost its purpose to serve the common good.

Further, in Turkey the government program still uses a military solution to achieve their policy of integration rather than an academic one. For a long time the integration policy was always interpreted as assimilation or acculturation, which means that the Turkish government tries to reconcile diverse cultures with one culture and to deny the minorities’ culture. By contrast, in the Philippines the varied Muslim tribes have their own language, dances, crafts, and customs. Yet, when Ferdinand Magellan came to the Philippines in early 1521, he conquered the archipelago by sword and cross, and for long time the Spaniards fought with Muslims in a bloody struggle and war. However, later on, the governor as well as Catholic and other denominations’ missionaries organized a politico –a military for the minorities’ group, so that they would be able to control the minorities’ affairs and supervise them. Dr. Tamano points out that the Spanish were successful in Luzon and Visayas, so the Spanish began to assimilate non-Christians into an already growing Christian society. In Dr. Tamano’s view, the Spaniards made the integration policy successful in the north because the Spaniard considered that if the number of Filipinos converted to Christianity could be measured, the numbers would show a fully successful integration. However, in the southern regions like Sulu and Maguindanao, the Sultanates of the Muslims resisted the Spaniard forces and the problem of assimilating these non-Catholic and Catholics failed to bring them to work together to bring about peace. If a traveler crosses the region, he or she will see how that policy has affected people’s life conditions there. Now the Philippine government recognizes these differences and has implemented policies to recognize the ethnic and religious differences.

Like Magellan, the Turkish government first under the Ataturk regime and then subsequent ones used force and denial as part of its assimilation policy. “Kurds are mountain Turks.” Turkey was effective with this assimilation, but they were not successful in the south; however, later on, the Turkish regime’s generals and Agah or Sheik organized a politico –the military for the minorities’ group, so that they could control the minorities’ affairs and supervised them through corrupt religious groups. The Agha in the south and in the eastern part of Turkey accomplished a successful integration policy because if the number of the Kurds who denied their identity or who believed that they were mountain Turks could be considered a criterion of national integration, then we could say that the Turkish government proved successful in her integration or assimilation policy. It is fair to say that the Turkish regime’s integration policy in the east was successful, but that it failed in the south. Last week, the mayor of the Diyarbakir challenged the Islamic Justice and Development Party (AP), saying that Diyarbakir is our [the Kurds’] “stronghold,” and we are ready to fight. However, Mayor Osman Baydemir used this word as a illustration to mean that we will not give up our culture, we will not bow down to injustice, we will not let the military burn our villages, we live here, and we will fight you not in the sense of taking up arms but a civilized way.. In the recent case, however, a member of the Fetullahci group, Fetullah Gülen’s closest assistant wrote in the Zaman newspaper criticizing Baydemir’s comments by saying that Mayor Baydemir cannot challenge the Prime Minister and that Baydemir is creating terror. But Huseyin Gulerce and his followers put the blinders on when the Democratic Social Party (DPT) leader Ahmet Turk criticized Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government by saying, “There is no mention about the Kurdish problem during the parliamentary talks over the new government plan.” However, Erdogan replied to Ahmet, “You first outlaw the Kurdish Worker Party [PKK} in the region.” Gulerce and his followers failed to see what kind of language the Prime Minister was using. What kind of leadership is it that wants to punish a majority of people because a minority of the people supports the PKK? If the Prime Minister were a mature enough leader, he would never point out differences of thought and opinion to produce conflict. It is true that no one should refuse to tolerate views that separate people into camps and destroy the community and society, but neither should they go out of their way to use them to enflame opposition. If the Prime Minister and others who think like him believe in tolerance, then why do they oppose every idea that seem contradictory to theirs and scare them off instead of seeking ways to benefit from their opinions and ideas, of trying to understand them and to build a bridge, and of beginning a dialogue with them? In other words, why do they not try to learn how to listen to what the Kurds say they really want and what they really mean? Otherwise, those who are kept at a distance and are led into dissatisfaction because they think that the government is biased will unit the masses and will resist the Turkish government. It is important that the Prime Minister and his government learn how to benefit from other people’s knowledge and views because that knowledge will help them understand how to approach the Kurdish problem.

Also, Erdogan still believes that there is no Kurdish problem and that there has never been one. By answering Baydemir, Erdogan was saying that people should produce projects not words. I wonder what Erdogan has been doing in southeastern Turkey . How many families have been compensated because the military forced them to leave their villages? How many families whose village has been burned have homes being rebuilt? How many new schools and new roads are being built in southeastern Turkey ? How many job has he created? How much has he reduced the size of the military instead of increasing it, as he actually has? A just government implies that there is a policy for everything: a policy for renewing a nation’s joy until the whole nation feel the joys and likewise feels the sorrow and pain of others in the same nation. Instead, now there is a new campaign that goes against Kurds, saying that Kurds are betrayers and have taken the side of the Christians like those in America . But, the government has never realized that Americans are the ones who freed the Kurds, not their fellow Muslim brothers. Also, it has failed to understand that those who have been oppressing the Kurds for centuries are neither Christians nor Americans, but they are their fellow Muslim brothers. Iran , for example, for a long time has oppressed the Kurds and is killing them even today; it is not a Christian nation but rather a Muslim nation. Turkey has oppressed, killed, tortured, raped, and burned houses and villages, not a Christian nation but a Muslim one. Syria committed genocide against the Kurds; it is not a Christen nation but a Muslim nation. Iraq ’s Saddam gassed Kurds not as a Christian nation but a Muslim one. Those who study politics and see politics as a propaganda struggle for power are mistaken. Politics is like an art of management based on diverse perspectives of the contemporary world and on a future that will seek the people’s satisfaction and justice. Erdogan and some others should never forget that power and dominance are transitory, while justice, equality, and truth are eternal. Even if they do not exist in Turkish politics today, some day they will. Therefore, especially those who claim to be Muslims should align themselves and their policies with equality and justice; and treat everybody the same regardless of their religion, skin color, race, ethnicity, or gender. The Prime Minister and Huseyin Gulerce should never forget when they were discriminated against by the military and the Secularists, or when they were not welcome in the presidential palace or at a meeting. How did they feel in their own country? That is exactly how the Kurds feel now. If religion is truly interpreted, it can promote democracy, understanding of others, human rights, equality, as well as justice, and those values can be guaranteed via religion. Because religion should teach that all people are created equal, it should not discriminate based on race, color, age, or nationality. Religion should declare that power lies in truth; religion should teach that justice and rule of law are essential; religion should teach freedom of belief, open ideas, and the right to life, personal name, and personal property. Everyone should be able to speak her or his language and maintain culture that God-gave to them; no one should take that away, and their rights should be violated. Religion is a relationship between men and God. It results in a commitment between God and the individual as he or she submits to His divine system in which all creatures obey Him. To abuse it is very sad in that today many people try to use religion to gain power and as a method of controlling another person’s life. If a government is virtuous and the state is chosen because of their humble ideas and justice, then that government will be strong and peace as well as reconciliation are possible, but if the government is run by officials who still have prejudice in their hearts and minds, not justice and equality, and thus they lack those high qualities, sooner or later it will collapse. Erdogan and others should remember that extreme harshness causes unexpected explosions that are waiting for the spark to ignite them. As long as his government protects people from cruelty and defends them from injustice and oppression, it will be a successful government; however, if Erdogan’s government does not do so, then he will cause more hatred, more prejudice, and more turmoil.

The majority of Muslims in the southern Philippines (the Moros), like the Kurds, are not rebellious and do not want to fight or be rebellious against their government. Even though a majority of the Moros sympathize with the Moros’ struggle against, oppression, injustice, and cruelty that the rebels represent, most Muslims like the Kurds wish for nothing more than to live in peace, pursue their livelihood, have a family, raise their kids, live in dignity, and die in a bed. The Kurds seek above all their survival as a Kurdish people. They are now convinced that their survival demands freedom from the domination of Turks in those matters which most impinge on their identity and selfhood as Kurds; those are such matters as education, community organizations, non-government organizations (NGO’s), family , law and order, an end to military rule, and economic resources. This is the kind of experience that has been telling us that there can be no real freedom for Kurds until there is fundamental change in the structures of their relationship to the Turkish government. This change must give them power, that is affective reserved powers, to order their affairs in their regions. However, those objectives should be accomplished by Turkish political systems using all of the legal constitutional means available, including publication of their ideas; organizing pressure groups and lobbies, and participating in government efforts to find the right, just solution to the Kurdish problem.

The number of Moros, like the Kurds, have acted on their belief that the only way to respond to the government’s wrong policy is to fight even though they are a comparably small entity. However, some Kurdish leaders like Baydemir, a moderate, have often eloquently articulated the legitimate and understandable grievances the Kurdish people put forth and voice sound recommendations for the government, but presently the government and the people are not ready yet to discuss openly the Kurdish question. Mayor Baydemir speaks on behalf of his people pleading for understanding and justice. Former Senator Mamintal Tamano and former dean, Cesar Majul of the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Philippines systems, have sets of recommendations for the Philippine government to implement. Some of the recommendations are being implemented by the government: 1) a moratorium on new settlers should be imposed, 2) law enforcement agents in the Moros areas should be Muslims, 3) more educational institutions should be established, 4) governments should encourage economic progress, 5) Muslim Filipinos should be better Muslims, 6) important elements of Islamic law should be allowed for Muslims, and 7) the national government should enable greater Moros’ participation. These are the major recommendations that two moderate Filipino Muslims have put together for the government, and many of those recommendations have already been granted and implemented.

Now more Moros have been appointed to national services. A code of Philippine Muslims’ personal law has been promulgated. Muslim holidays have legal status in the Moros region. The government has set up a Bank of the Philippines, Amana Bank, to capitalize on the Moro requirements for economic development. The Minister of Educational Culture has been making a conscious effort to meet the educational needs and religious feeling of the Muslims. Moreover, the Philippine government granted autonomy to the Muslims making them internally independent and externally dependent on the Manila government. According to Dr. Tamano, The Autonomous Region of Muslims Mindano (ARMM) was created in August 1989 and inaugurated in 1990 under the President, Corazon Aquino at the Cotabato City . This led to the Moro National Front laying down their arms and converting to the Philippine national army. The question is why can’t Turkey be like the Philippines ?


Martin Zehr:

Defending Southern Kurdistan

Now that Turkey’s Parliament has sanctioned military action against the Kurdish Autonomous Region there is an immediate need to address appropriate responses regarding international response to such actions. The political leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is facing an historic moment in the history of the national project of the Kurdish peoples. It options in addressing the reality extend beyond simply military responses.

The response of Syria supporting the Turkish resolution is an unwarranted intrusion into the current situation. The Islamic Republic of Iran has notably opposed a military intervention by Turkey and this may represent a significant counterbalance for Kurdish forces in the region in dealing with this one particular issue. Internationally, the United States has issued a statement that is singularly disconnected from the very real threat of Turkish military actions. There is precedent to this in the US government’s actions after the Persian Gulf War when it stood by as Saddam Hussein murdered Kurds fighting for freedom. Recently, neo-con columnists in the US have been adamant in opposing the PKK’s presence within the Kurdistan Autonomous Region and posing it as a provocation to Turkey.

One does need to keep in mind that the long war within Turkey against the PKK has never been accompanied by ANY political concessions regarding Kurdish cultural rights or national autonomy by the Turkish government. One might give them some credit for repealing penal codes that had resulted in the imprisonment of thousands after they had been implemented following the military coup of 1980 in Turkey. One could even applaud the repeal of the 1983 law outlawing the Kurdish language. But what was given up in 1991 was taken back with the “Anti-Terror Law” in 1992.

Never has Turkey been called to task for the forced displacement of thousands of Kurdish villages in Turkey or its use of emergency rule against Kurdish provinces. Never has it acted to repeal Article 301 in the Turkish Constitution making it a crime to “insult Turkishness” that provides the legal pretext for subjugation of the Kurdish culture and political rights. Never has it addressed the disappearing of over 3,000 Kurds between 1992 and 1993 or the torture and murder of hundreds of PKK and other Kurds. Now, the Turkish military moves are removed from the context of its thirty years of military repression against Kurds in Turkey. Clearly, the US is focused more on Turkey’s role as a conduit for US military supplies to its occupation forces within Iraq than it is in the real impact of a few thousand guerillas in the mountains.

The issue at stake remains the sovereignty of the Kurdish Autonomous Region and its right to implement Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution through the Kirkuk Referendum. It is evident that Turkey has not succeeded in its attempt to manipulate the Turkmen population within Kirkuk in a manner that could successfully defeat the vote to include Kirkuk within the Kurdish Autonomous Region. Violations of the border appear to be as lightly considered as human rights to the Turkish governing party and the military elite.

Clearly, Turkey is presenting itself as a nation that is NOT prepared to join the EU as a full partner through its continued denial of human rights and its efforts to undermine the KRG. Turkey’s actions now will demonstrate whether it can ever adopt policies required to meet the standards established by the European Parliament for full membership in the European Union. There is no “clear-and-present danger” that can truly be documented in regards to the PKK that can justify a Turkish invasion.

But, what can the international community do now in the face of Turkish determination to intervene in the affairs of another nation? Security Council Resolution 688 stands as a precedent for recognition of Kurdish grievances. But the issue in this case is not the one addressed previously about refugees fleeing from Saddam Hussein. Now the issue is clearly one of whether a member state of the United Nations is entitled to violate the territorial boundaries of another nation. The issue needs to be posed in the context of the impact of this invasion on the right to vote on the inclusion of Kirkuk and not simply accept undocumented accusations regarding the role of the PKK’s forces within the Kurdish Autonomous Region in attacks within Turkey. It needs to be presented in the context of the fundamental denial of Kurdish rights within Turkey.

In its resolutions on the Armenian genocide and the support of a federal system within Iraq the US Congress has shown that it is willing to confront the “uncomfortable” issues within the region without the current administration’s prevarications acting as its guide. It would be advised that Turkey take note of this as well. It is all very well to be indignant when it comes to a non-binding resolution concerning a crime not committed under its government’s auspices. It is quite different to disregard international opinion regarding actions that would further de-stabilize the region and incite not only domestic opposition but profound international repercussions as well.

It needs to be said that such an incursion is by no means a first for Turkey into Iraq, including a 1992 bombing raid of President Barzani’s campaign office. The air attack within Turkey following the 1992 Newroz New Year Kurdish demonstrations shows the resolve by the Turkish General Staff to attack any and all signs of resistance, whether peaceful or violent, whether in their own country or outside of their national boundaries. The Turkish General Staff’s impulse to attack its political opposition is not simply reserved for the PKK.

The Iraqi government needs to come to grips with its responsibility towards the defense of its Kurdish residents if it is to continue to present itself as the legitimate government of the Kurdish peoples living in northern Iraq. There is too long a record of others within Iraq standing by in the face of mass murders of Kurds for anyone to accept the good intentions of a Baghdad government on faith. We should all pay attention to how President Talibani is personally delegated in addressing these matters, as well as how the refusal of Turkey to recognize the KRG and President Barzani is addressed in negotiations. How can a central government obscure or deny the right of elected representatives of an autonomous region to represent their people in any and all negotiations that involve the welfare and future of Kurdish people? And how can that central government ever earn the trust and loyalty of the Kurdish people by acting in a way as to sacrifice them in the face of threatened aggression from without?


Martin Zehr is an American political writer whose article on the Kirkuk Referendum has been printed by the Kurdish Regional Government,

PUK , Kurdishmedia.com, and Conservative Voice He is a Contributing Writer to Kurdish Aspect where his articles have appeared on line and in print.

Nergiz Duhoki :

A Golden Opportunity for PKK

The lack of true statesmen within the Kurdish leadership in different parts of Kurdistan has hindered the Kurdish struggle to a far extent. Despite the sacrifices that our people have given to our cause, our people remain oppressed, except to the limited achievements in S. Kurdistan, thanks to the humane US protection. In northern Kurdistan, coupled with a systematic oppression on Kurds, the Turkish diplomacy has been very successful in creating a negative image on the N. Kurds to the western world, to an extent where Northern Kurds are labeled as “terrorists.”

The Turks were able to play their cards correctly to hinder the process of a congressional resolution in the US House of Representative, affiliated with the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1910s. While the bill was passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the well-connected Turks in Washington were able to force the US lawmakers to put on ice the plan, threatening to invade Northern Iraq to pursue PKK fighters in the Qendil Mountain (a move triggering the destabilization of the only semi-stabilized region in Iraq) and closing down the Incirlik Airbase, the main source of aid to the US military in Iraq. In addition to their initial intention to blocking the resolution from reaching the floor in the House of Representative, the Turks were able to put maximum pressure on Southern Kurdistan and PKK and force the Iraqi government to label PKK as a “terrorist organization.”

Announcing a cease-fire and threatening to resist any assault carried by the Turkish army, the Kurds remain in a defensive position, and we never witnessed any successful Kurdish diplomacy to pull the rugs from under the feet of Turks. Mr. Raz Jabary, in an article on Kurdishaspect.com, dated October 25, 2007, made an intelligent suggestion to PKK leadership to appropriately handle the matter of the recently captive Turkish soldiers.

Mr. Jabary suggests PKK leadership to hand over the captive soldiers to an international body, such as the International Red Cross of Amnesty International (i.e., treating the captives as prisoners of war). Since the matter involves human rights, the mentioned international organizations are likely to cooperate with PKK. Such a move will embarrass the Turkish state and prove to the world that Kurds are not terrorists, but people fighting for a right cause, willing to live in peace with their neighbors and committed to international declarations on human rights. In addition, it would encourage the Kurds who are forced to serve in the Turkish army to defect and hand themselves to PKK for similar measure, a move that can greatly harm the Turkish military establishment.

We hope from the PKK leadership to take advantage of this golden opportunity and demonstrate their willingness to accept Mr. Jabary’s suggestion. It will prove wrong the Turkish allegations and untangle the knotted image on the Northern Kurds in the west.

By Karim Hasan:

Turkish government policies towards Kurdistan

The Economist published “Turkey and Armenia: Unearthing the past, endangering the future” [1] on 18 October 2007. The article tackles the ways current Turkish decision to invade Iraqi Kurdistan is linked to the Armenian genocide bill.

It explains that “Turkey votes to invade northern Iraq, Congress considers the Armenian genocide. The two are dangerously connected”. It is unclear whether Turkey is going to ‘invade northern Iraq’, but the plan allows Turkish army an open-hand to conduct cross-border operations for one full year. This could lead to the outbreak of another war in an already war-torn region of the Middle East.

On 10 October 2007, Con Coughlin in the Telegraph described the situation is that, “When Kurds smell success, Turks go for guns” [2]. Kurdish success can be measured by economic growth, social and political reconciliation, an emerging organized civil society, good governance and above all regional stability [3].

Is it the interconnectedness of Armenian Genocide Bill and ‘Kurdish successes’ have made the “Turks to go for guns”? The Bill and ‘Kurdish successes’ are connected to the Turkish incursion-decision in a mild way.

The Turkish government avenges decision made by the Committee on Foreign Relations and the ‘Kurdish successes’ by deciding to intrude into Iraqi Kurdistan. An important question is: whether Turkey is preparing to lunch another genocidal campaign that Ottoman Empire conducted in its last dying-days against the Armenians, but this time against Kurds, the way Ba’ath regime deported and executed entire Kurdish population in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1980s?

Governments around the world have warned Turkey of severe outcome, if its army invades Iraqi Kurdistan. The United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Mediterranean states, Germany, Russia, Jordon, Egypt, the European Union and the general secretary of the United Nations have expressed their disapprovals of Turkish parliament decision to intrude into Kurdistan region of Iraq [4].

Lose Angeles Times argues that “Kurdish problem is our problem” [5]. World public opinion will play a positive role. Kurds and people of Kurdistan have expressed that they will defend Kurdistan, if they are attacked [6]. They have made clear that they want a peaceful solution to this escalation.

Kurdish and Iraqi leaderships have articulated a united voice of dismay and objection at this vexing and irritating policy that the Turkish government has been practicing since early 1990s [7]. This policy has contributed to continuous internal instability in Iraqi Kurdistan, in the region, and it has caused more refugees knocking on Europe’s door–influx of Kurdish refuges.

The practice of this military incursion-policy into northern Iraq has been grounded on distorted knowledge. The Turkish government needs to know that distorted knowledge will neither be tolerated nor can be valid motive for this intrusion under the same pre-text by which the Turkish military has stationed military bases in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq since early 1990s.

Now, more than a decade later Prime Minister Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul are practicing the same policy, which has been allowing Turkey to retain military bases in the sovereign territory of Iraqi Kurdistan within the Federal state of Iraq.

Prime Minister Erdogan argues that ‘Turkey does not want permission from anyone to defend itself’. Mr. Prime Minister, I am a Kurd, and in principle, I agree with you that sovereign states have sovereign rights, but let us operationalize this abstract principle of ‘sovereign rights’:

Then, we will discover ‘the fact’ whether Turkey is under threat from Turkish policies of expansionism into Iraqi Kurdistan, which has been practiced by Turkish government since early 1990s, or from an internal conflict which is the result of ‘Kurdish effort for the ‘right to life, liberty and security’. The two are well connected, but it is the Turkish government expansionist policies foremost deny Kurds the ‘right to life, liberty and security’. This denial has led to the deterioration of Turkish sovereignty.

Similar expansionist imperial policies that denied the ‘right to life, liberty and security’, led the late Ottoman Empire to label Jews with a yellow ribbon-star on their arms and categorized them a third class citizen within its administrative borders [8]. Later, this practice was adopted by other states.

Early in the twentieth century, the Ottoman Empire’s desire to retain these expansionist policies through denying non-Turkic ethno-religious groups the ‘right to life, liberty and security’ led the Ottoman army to zero tolerance and committed first genocide in the history against Christian Armenians and Kurds, in which 1.5 million Armenians and Kurds died.

Armenian genocide is now recognized by many states including Canada and France. On October 10th, 2007 the House of Representative Foreign Relations Committee presented to the United States House of Representative Armenian genocide bill [9]. Many sources forecast the passage of this Bill.

Similar ambitions led the Turkish army to massacre Kurds in the Kurdish town Darsim in 1930s, in which thousands of Kurds were killed. Turkish government turned a blind eye on the Anfal genocide of the Iraqi Kurds in 1980s. The government that you represent deported hundreds of thousands of its Kurdish citizens from their homes, and razzed entire towns and villages to the ground [10].

The ethno-religious categorization of the Middle East under the Ottoman Empire brought to practice has left many problems for the people of the Middle East. This ethno-religious categorization policy has destabilized the region and has criminalized certain ethno-religious groups.

Every voice of justice and reason that points to the repression of Kurds has been silenced in Turkey. We read cases of criminal charges against Kurdish mayors, city councillors, business people, politicians, professors, and teachers for practicing Kurdish language.

Turkish government has imprisoned into confinement the sociologist Dr. Islmail Beşikçi of Turkish origin for almost 15 years over important findings about the life conditions of the 20 million Kurds within the administrative boarder of Turkey [11a, 11b]. Dr. Beşikçi deserves a Nobel Peace award.

If we search for the root-cause of militancy; we will end-up pointing at that Turkish state-sponsored policies are the source of continuing militancy, not the battered, deported and exploited, and massacred Kurds and other ethno-religious groups. Turkish expansionist policy is not new, if it continues, the region will be pulled in to further state of chaos.

The operational logic of this expansionist Turkish policy has labelled a certain Kurdish group ‘a destabilizing factor’, this group has declared unilateral cease-fire with Turkish government many times, but Turkish government has never responded to this positive initiative. The certain group that gets blamed by the Turkish government changes every now and then.

Let us put this theory to test. Yesterday, 22 October 2007 the Kurdish group that Turkish army has been accusing of destabilizing factor declared cease-fire and willingness to peaceful solution [12]. They have pronounced peace. The Turkish government best bet is to accept this cease-fire at the formal level, negotiate a solution to the Kurdish question and peace in the region.

If the Turkish government claims sovereignty over Kurds within its administrative borders, it has to be able to put its house in order and stop blaming, attacking, and invading its neighbours for its own incompetencies. Previous incursion resulted in further destabilization, because war cannot solve Kurdish question in Turkey [13].

Mr. Prime Minister, stop this chaos. You and your government bare the burden of a solution to ‘Kurdish right to life, liberty and security’ within the administrative boarder of Turkey. Kurds are not minority, but they constitute almost one third of the population of the state of Turkey. The longer this fact is ignored, the more problematic it becomes.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Baba-can pointed out that his government will exhaust all diplomatic avenues before it begins military action [14a]. It is apparent that Turkish government has exhausted all diplomatic options to avert the Kurdish Regional Government success, and now it has decided that Kurdistan progress cannot be diverted through diplomatic means, a military invasion may do the job.

The ‘Kurdish successes that Con Coughlin pointed out is partially about economy and stability. Since Turkish parliament incursion-decision, oil prices have already jumped to about $ 90 per barrel. Does the Turkish government plan to commit the same mistake that the Ba’ath regime did with Kuwait?

These are dangerous war-games that the Turkish government has been playing since early 1990s. Good neighbours design their relations in a peaceful manner. For certain, good neighbour-relations are reciprocal and reflexive. The onus is on Turkey to accept calls for peace. Let us read reports about that ‘when Kurds succeed, Turks throw away their guns’, because peaceful-civilized options will come to horizon.

We see, and the World is watching and they call on you, Mr. Prime Minister, Rajab Tayeb Erdogan to get rid of ‘gun politics’, and to put an end to exploitative-repression of Kurds, reconsider the cease-fire that you rejected at the first moment of its announcement without slightest consideration [14b]. Non-violent, fair methods are best possible methods, Mr. Prime Minister look to the south of the border and embrace them.


Karim Hasan is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at Carleton University


Don Miner:

Comments on Turkish Governments Policies toward Kurdistan

Turkish policy is focusing presently on invading the PKK campsites in Iraq. Turkey can best eliminate the PKK by removing the reasons that the PKK came into existence in the first place. Turkey continues its oppressive policies in the Kurdish area in southeastern Turkey. The eastern Kurdish area continues to be an economic wasteland, populated by undereducated, underutilized Kurds, who are yet existing within their historic homeland, overseen by overpaid Turkish occupiers, Turkish teachers, Turkish police, Turkish military authorities, Turkish doctors, Turkish morticians, Turkish bankers, Turkish industrialists, and all kinds of Turkish opportunists who go east just for the extra "hardship" pay and privileges that they enjoy for participating in the oppressive infrastructure that has been built around every Kurd in their zone.

The only way a Kurd can really hope to enjoy a fair chance at a good life and a successful future is to pretend to be Turkish and move to the west. God knows how many American black people would have loved to pretend to be white, in order to avoid the indignities and oppression, and reap all the rewards and benefits given to white Americans in our "great" democracy; and they supposedly received their freedom since 1865.Progress has been slow for blacks in America, and progress continues to be very slow for the Kurds.

The best and most effective way for Turkey to "attack and eliminate" the PKK is to remove the very reason for their existence in the first place. That is, to allow the Kurds to govern themselves, teach themselves, police themselves, feed and clothe themselves, by way of their own business ventures, invest in their own local industries, become educated enough to take care of themselves in every way possible, leaving "economic forces" as the only "forces" that the Kurds would have to contend with.

It's time for the military to get out of town, and go back to their bases; to protect their nation from the threats of outside forces, or to join other NATO forces in internationally sanctioned missions, such as was the case in Korea. But, to leave the Kurds alone. The Kurds are not an external threat to national integrity. And they are not an internal threat either. The Turkish policy toward the Kurds is the problem. The Turkish policy toward the Kurds is the big threat to Turkish national security. The Turks themselves are "insulting Turkishness". I know this would be difficult for most Turks to understand. Just as much as it was hard for many white people in America in the 1950's and 1960's to understand why black people were complaining about their situation.

Turkey can easily remove the PKK without going after them into the mountains. Turkey eventually must allow the Kurds to prosper in eastern Turkey. As much as the Kurds of northern Iraq have benefited by the establishment of a "no fly zone", that gave them the opportunity to organize and help themselves, without much external guidance or encouragement, the Kurds of Turkey would do the same for themselves by the simple act of declaring a "no military zone" in eastern Turkey. It's that simple.

The military mission in eastern Turkey should become meaningless, and unnecessary. Let the military appropriately focus on external threats. Sorry guys, but you are no longer needed to guard your own citizens. You can go back to your bases and remain prepared for your next call from NATO, or maybe to assist in Darfur.

Mr. Prime Minister Erdogan should not be intimidated by the military, which is his servant, or should be, and not his master. Please, Mr. Prime Minister, tell me, am I naive? I don't think so.

Times are changing, and really times have changed long ago, and Turkey just needs to catch up with the times. "Brave people" must, at this point in time, slay these "giants" with their verbal slingshots. So, that is why I am now speaking out, from my remote little mountain top in San Francisco. It is really the time now for the ordinary Turkish citizen to speak up and to tell other Turkish citizens that continued racism does not work anymore. Then the military can be diminished, except for their truly national security duties, and the PKK can sit in the mountains till they die, or come down and enjoy a few human rights, inalienable rights, inherent rights, natural rights. And believe me, that is how to maintain the integrity of the present day Turkish borders. Otherwise, your country may become smaller, if this "Turkish" problem is not solved.

So, do not invade Iraq. The PKK in Iraq is not the problem. The problem is at home, and it is a Turkish problem, not a Kurdish problem. So be it. No one will complain. And if you want to argue that I am too simplistic and naive, well, that is another subject entirely, and not pertinent to this topic. You see, things are going to happen, and the future is going to unfold and expose itself, no matter what you or I think. Believe me. The elements are already at work on it.

Thank you, Don Miner, San Francisco, CA. U.S.A.

Nergiz Duhoki :

A Golden Opportunity for PKK

The lack of true statesmen within the Kurdish leadership in different parts of Kurdistan has hindered the Kurdish struggle to a far extent. Despite the sacrifices that our people have given to our cause, our people remain oppressed, except to the limited achievements in S. Kurdistan, thanks to the humane US protection. In northern Kurdistan, coupled with a systematic oppression on Kurds, the Turkish diplomacy has been very successful in creating a negative image on the N. Kurds to the western world, to an extent where Northern Kurds are labeled as “terrorists.”

The Turks were able to play their cards correctly to hinder the process of a congressional resolution in the US House of Representative, affiliated with the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1910s. While the bill was passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the well-connected Turks in Washington were able to force the US lawmakers to put on ice the plan, threatening to invade Northern Iraq to pursue PKK fighters in the Qendil Mountain (a move triggering the destabilization of the only semi-stabilized region in Iraq) and closing down the Incirlik Airbase, the main source of aid to the US military in Iraq. In addition to their initial intention to blocking the resolution from reaching the floor in the House of Representative, the Turks were able to put maximum pressure on Southern Kurdistan and PKK and force the Iraqi government to label PKK as a “terrorist organization.”

Announcing a cease-fire and threatening to resist any assault carried by the Turkish army, the Kurds remain in a defensive position, and we never witnessed any successful Kurdish diplomacy to pull the rugs from under the feet of Turks. Mr. Raz Jabary, in an article on Kurdishaspect.com, dated October 25, 2007, made an intelligent suggestion to PKK leadership to appropriately handle the matter of the recently captive Turkish soldiers.

Mr. Jabary suggests PKK leadership to hand over the captive soldiers to an international body, such as the International Red Cross of Amnesty International (i.e., treating the captives as prisoners of war). Since the matter involves human rights, the mentioned international organizations are likely to cooperate with PKK. Such a move will embarrass the Turkish state and prove to the world that Kurds are not terrorists, but people fighting for a right cause, willing to live in peace with their neighbors and committed to international declarations on human rights. In addition, it would encourage the Kurds who are forced to serve in the Turkish army to defect and hand themselves to PKK for similar measure, a move that can greatly harm the Turkish military establishment.

We hope from the PKK leadership to take advantage of this golden opportunity and demonstrate their willingness to accept Mr. Jabary’s suggestion. It will prove wrong the Turkish allegations and untangle the knotted image on the Northern Kurds in the west.

VICTORIA:

i live in america- my neighbors are ecuadoran, mexican,guatemalan,chineses,korean,greek,cypriot, turkish,pakistani,bengali,indian,ukrainian,german,
iranian,moroccan,yemeni,egyptian,irish,puerto rican,algerian,european,vietnamese

i walk out my front door and hear 5 leanguages before i hit the corner.
i live in new york,and i havent seen my neighborhood torn apart by war and chaos or conflict.

im not saying new york is a utopia, but its not that bad.

and the turks managed to limp along without americal's idea of political correctness for a millenia absorbing tens of different ethnicities.

what you're suggesting is that if we all stay in our respective cultural boxes we'll eliminate competing interests that lead to conflict?

this always amazes me- where do you suggest i go?
i have about 4 differnt ethnic groups swirling through my veins

will there be a place where the mongrels can go?

o yes, america- well im already here.
that worked out well

Tired American:

You people lap up everything they tell you in the media, happily ingesting the kool-aid of multiculturalism.

It makes me sick to my stomach.

The leftists wants us all to worship at the church of "diversity". They would like us to believe that they respect race, ethnicity, and culture. But reality is that their Marxist-Leninist dreams where all races/ethnicities/cultures of the world are equal and living in peace, is a nightmare.

Remember the Balkans. It is where the term "balkanization" comes from, born from the blood and ashes of ethnic struggles.

Race and culture are the common bonds that hold a nation, a society together. When multiculturalism is introduced, society over time will factionalize into enclaves of competing cultures and peoples. Multiculturalism does not lead to some grand utopia. It leads to conflict, and eventually war. History has proven this.

The same leftists that cheer for the inevitable balkanization of Turkey along the lines of Turks/Kurds/Armenians are the same ones that cheer for balkanization of Southwest America to the racist Mexican Aztlan movement, and that of Europe to the millions of Muslims who seek to extend Sharia law in the heart of Western Civilization.

Isn't it time we let go of this PC foolishness? Multiculturalism doesn't seek to preserve culture, but to destroy it through chaos and conflict. I used to believe in this crap myself, now I'm just tired.

VICTORIA:

possibly amar is going to do a seque into talking to turks in the west. there have been 4 articles on kurdish turks, so i really do hope he does do an interview with an instanbuli turk to balance out the 4 on kurdish turks.

Rock from US:

I visited Turkey a 20 years ago, I remember going to a place called Mersin (Castle in the Sea)and Tarsus. I enjoyed my stay there very much, as the Turks (I did not ask about their ethnicity or history) were very friendly. They were and are like people (I've traveled a fair amount)
I've met all over. What some ethnic groups, minorities or majorities, need to realize is that no group has a corner of suffering or atrocities. Even if the government does not recognoze atrocoties (Armania, Kurds, real or alledged) it will not change how ethnic groups have historically viewed one another. What the young man witnessed in the US was a people with a national identity, but with individual stories and histories. We blacks were slaves, and we still suffer from some form of institutional discrimination and prejudice. And it(slavery and discrimination)does effect our psyche, no matter what any black or white leader or intellectual will say. On the other hand we (all minorities, regarless of race, color, ethnicity)realize that there is no better place in the world, in my opinion, where you can make a good and somewhat safe and stable life. I think America has and always will be about hope. What woulds America be if all the Native Americans, Blacks, Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, and every other group or religion lived in a world where historic injustices festered like salt on an open wound, where we fought one another "just because"? Maybe it's because our country is a little older (as far as government, not histoty)and we are a nation of immigrants (non-native), or maybe it's our religion(s), which are in themselves diverse, advocates forgiveness. Forgiveness means you do not forget, you just choose not to allow the offense to rule your life and emotions. Most of the deep rooted tribal and ethnic problems in the world will never go away until individuals and governments bridge the gaps thet divide. Modern Turkey has come a long way in it's progress as a model of blending the old and the new. It would be a sad thing for the world as a whole to see it become anything but a country that never forgets it's past but builds on it's future. Good luck Turkey, I'm rooting for you all.

James David:

According to some classified reports, the production of chemical and biological weapons in Turkey has increased by 300 % since 2000. At present, it is believed that Turkey possesses the largest stockpile of WMD. 3 times more than Iran and 9 times more than Syria. An immediate investigation should be launched by the United Nation Organization to confirm these facts.

Muddy:

Somehow I missed all the sever negative comments about Turks in the orginal posting, because they aren't there. The responses show a far, far darker side of Turkey than that of Ahmet D did in his comments suggesting such horrors as more understanding between sides. Note the PKK or rebelion in general were never mentioned.
However, several posts complained that a reporter talked to A Kurd!!!!, which is well past the crazy line.
Turkey lacks anywhere near free speech, but does indeed have elections which count unless they really piss off the military. The Treatment of Kurds has indeed improved, but it wasn't long ago that their Language was banned, and the government tried to deny they were an enthic group at all. The Kurds were part of the Turkish EMPIRE after all, note a group of Turks who suddenly decided to be different.
The posts against this kid wouldn't even appear rational if worst that gone on between Kurds and Turks were some really nasty name calling, and given the history, they response to Ahmet D's posting are so detached from reality, they almost prove the PKK's point.

Sahin:

Maxiths: Dumbar and Hasan make very valid, rational points. If anything, you come off as the fanatical. I suggest you bring something constructive to the posting, rather than personal attacks. Have you lived in Turkey? If so, you would realize that what Amar is posting is very one sided. Turks and Kurds live together everywhere. If not, I suggest you keep YOUR fanatical point of view out of the discussion. Oh...BTW, I have lived in Turkey and I would say things are far from "miserable", which is a word you have chosen to use. AND BTW#2: If people should refer to history then I point out to you: Brits vs. world during the imperialistic phase; US vs. Native Indians & Black Slavery; Japan vs. Singapore and Hong Kong during WWII. China vs Tibet. I guess the lives lost on both sides during these wars/disputes are VERY different than Turkeys history.

Vic van Meter:

And might I add on an off topic that Ocean City is amazing. We went there a lot when I was young. There was a little floating dock with a ton of little knick-knack shops on it called Shantytown that was always the highlight of every trip. There are islands with free-roaming wild horses and long stretches of fine-sand beaches. It's a gorgeous place.

Vic van Meter:

This is a big part of the solution to the "Kurdish Problem." It's what has normally kept minority societies divided from the mainstream. And it's something a lot of us typing online forget to be thankful for.

Education. It's THAT important.

Seriously, the difference between the ethnicities in America has diminished not simply through time and through litigation, but by the education of minorities. The desegregation of schools did a lot more for, say, the black community than did anything else up to that point. More than wealth and more than power, education will set the people free. And if there's anything in this world I'm blessed to have, it's that education that I've received.

We're not by ANY stretch of the imagination perfect here in the States. You can't magically make 400 years of oppression of our African population (not to mention 500 years for our Native Americans and Lord knows what else for our other ethnic minorities) disappear in forty short years of legal desegregation. But we're getting there, and we're getting there mostly through education and the resultant sharing of wealth.

That's actually probably what Ahmet was so shocked about in America. Skin color is less important in America than it was years ago (there are still some neighborhoods I know I don't go into in Pittsburgh when I drive in) but it is, thankfully, diminishing.

I thank Ahmet for his work. Hopefully, through his scholarship, he can bring the education gap to the Kurds previously interviewed living in poverty. Hopefully they can be integrated (at least integrated further, from a lot of the comments it seems like inner-city Kurds aren't quite so vitriolic about "Turkish oppression").

But it's refreshing to get the opinion of one of the Kurds who's really the viable alternative to the PKK. The idea of 'let's not kill them, let's just break down our barriers' is really much more successful than the revolutionary war bit (trust me, you don't want to be that ragtag militia fighting the British twice for your country, killing hundreds of thousands of your young men, hoping the French are around to save you). It might certainly take longer, but making Turkey into a more open country is infinitely more constructive than blowing up a couple buildings and killing thousands of Turks.

Kudos to Amar for getting this man's interview! Can't wait to see who Amar finds himself talking to next.

Anonymous:

Huzzah!

FunTravelAdventure:

"For example, when I had a hard time understanding the teenagers [ordering food] in English, they would say, 'If you don't understand our language why are you here? Why are you in America?!' I was so upset I never expected these kinds of statements from black and Mexican teenagers."

Well mohammed, maybe you should go to mexico instead. I'm sure you'd be much happier.

Yabanci:

Mr. Bakshi,

You're doing a great job! Sometimes we forget that Turkey, like everywhere, is full of individuals with diverse backgrounds and affiliations. Some are accusing you of only selecting interviewees who do not represent 'real Turkey' or 'real Turkishness'. But I challenge your critics to try to do what you are doing. Then they too can show us -through all of the interesting people they will find- that presenting a stereotyped version of Turkishness would require constant elimination of almost everything and everyone they meet.

Keep up the good work.

-Yabanci

sri-jaggu-gandhi:

Good stuff, Amar. I really enjoy reading your posts and learn about people who would otherwise never be interviewed by anyone, let alone mainstream media (ahem, except the WaPo now, of course). Your interviews give me a better picture of the situation with the majority Turks and the Kurdish minority, plus your readers' responses are not bad either!

-sri-jaggu-gandhi
ps. please pay no heed to all those phaltu comments on your journalism, agenda, etc. Keep up the good job.

maxiths:

To Dumbar and Hasan.
Why don't you leave the big fanatical talk out of this picture. You want people to know how wonderfull Turkey is? well look around and see how misserable people in Turkey are! with the exception of the typicals,(military high command,upper class establishment.and the suckers)
I see your type of people all over the world, and it sadens me emensly to see my future in the hands of imbasils, waving the flags as if they were their saviors. It sickens me to see your kind fanatisizing the innocent ones and then washing your hands from the hole thing.
Turkey has done many bad things in history, you can't erase it like a pensils eraser!
Thank God we have history to relate to and history will be our hope, for a better tommorow not to alow the same mistakes repeat themselves.

Gkaya:

Poor Ahmet!...Such a sweet story how the kurd is serving pancakes and interested in minority rights,.. pressing tongues ... bla bla bla...Wake up people and smell the stench of your stupid brain.Come down to Earth and answer the phone.Reality bites and that is why you are the way you are...IGNORANT!
Read something other then tv guide!

HASAN CAN FROM TURKEY:

And this is another example of "you dont have to be terrorist to get what you want in Turkey. Schools and scholar ships are open to everyone. Turk/Kurd/Greek/Armenian/Laz/Arab/Georgian etc"

HASAN CAN FROM TURKEY:

1) Ahmet compares Kurds with Blacks. There had never been a black US president. But many Kurdish presidents.
2) Ahmet is another proof. Turks and Kurds have the same opportunities in Turkey.

HASAN CAN FROM TURKEY:

2 weeks ago i have said here that "i hope you will talk to TURKS while you are in Turkey" but once again, another brainwashed journalist comes to turkey, ignores turks because ""turks are the root of all evil in the world"" and just tells the world how sad minorities in turkey as they are living a life in hell!

dunbar:

Amar's posting seems like a novel. The kurdish issue has been blown out of proportion. If amar would interview a matyr Turkish soldiers' family and ask them what thier son's dreams were if he has not be killed by the PKK then I will say amars posting are neutral. However taking sides makes us takes sides too. so Turkey will defend its unity which is one language, one flag and one state.

VICTORIA:

thanks amar- your assignment must be particularly difficult right now, but youve managed to give us a slice of hope

i see ahmet realizes that people share that sentiment this side of the atlantic

thats a pretty wise realization for a 24 year old

thanks for bringing us these stories amar
how old are you again? :)

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