Thursday, June 22, 2006

Anti-terror law quashes peaceful Kurdish protest

Human Rights Watch:
June 22, 2006

The trial tomorrow of three Kurdish activists on anti-terrorism charges after they attempted to stage a peaceful protest near the Iraq border calls into question the Turkish leadership’s commitment to human rights reforms, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

To demonstrate that his government stands by the reform process, Prime Minister Erdoğan must ensure that Ibrahim Güçlü, Zeynel Abidin Özalp and Ahmet Sedat Oğur are released. These three Kurdish activists are scheduled to go on trial tomorrow in the eastern city of Diyarbakir. They were arrested on May 2 as they prepared to walk to the border of Iraq to peacefully protest the recent killings of civilians by security forces in southeastern Turkey and express their concern about tensions between the Turkish government and the Kurdish-led administration in northern Iraq.

The men are being charged under the Anti-Terror Law for “making propaganda for the PKK,” a charge that is all the more ironic in light of the fact that Güçlü has repeatedly and publicly condemned violence by the PKK (the Turkish acronym for the Kurdish Workers’ Party, a prominent illegal armed opposition group). All three are officials of Kurt-Der, a Kurdish association that Turkish authorities closed last month for conducting its internal business in the Kurdish language.

The detention and trial of these activists reflect a broader deterioration of Turkey’s human rights record in recent months, Human Rights Watch said. The Turkish leadership must reverse this negative trend and reaffirm its commitment to human rights reforms, underway since 1999 and driven partly by Turkey’s quest for European Union membership.
Human Rights Watch expressed strong concern about the disproportionate use of force by police dealing with protestors, particularly in the southeast, where 19 people have been killed in demonstrations and disturbances since November. The Turkish government must conduct swift investigations into the widespread allegations of torture and ill-treatment of people detained during violence that erupted after funerals in Diyarbakir of PKK militants killed by Turkish security forces.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Taqtaq, who’s there?
By Darya Ibrahim
Posted June 18, 2006

Who would have thought that a village as small as Taqtaq could ruffle so many feathers...
Nestled in the hills surrounding the town of Koya, is the small village of Taqtaq, which until recently was just another farming village in the Kurdish countryside. Following the discovery of oil beneath the little village, Taqtaq has become internationally known (at least to those in the oil industry).

Although the Kurds have known about this oil field since the 1960s, due to the political situation it was not explored. In 1995 just before the Kurdish civil war, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) instructed Genel Energy, a Turkish company, to start drilling the nearby Shiwashok oil field. In 2002, the KRG then signed a deal with Genel Energy and Adax (Canadian-Swiss company) to create a group with the KRG, called 'TTOPCO' Taqtaq operation company, and it was based in Taqtaq.

The group was tasked with preparing the area for the drilling of the Taqtaq oil fields. The project paused briefly during the liberation of Iraq, but recommenced once the Iraqi constitution had been approved.

The constitution allows the region to explore its natural resources: “The regions in the structure of Iraq may use the natural wealth that their region contains.”
Fast-forward to 14 May 2006 to the opening ceremony of the Taqtaq oil fields in the presence of Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his deputy Omar Fatah. Taqtaq is no longer a sleepy village near Koya; it is a hub of oil industry activity. During the ceremony the various dignitaries offered their opinions on the Taqtaq oil fields.

Dilshad Abdulrahman, KRG Special Projects Supervisor, said: “The project should be completed by the end of this year, by the beginning of 2007 the plant will be producing 200 000 liters of oil a day.”

He added that in a couple of months time, they expected to start work on another two wells in Taqtaq. Abdulrahman then went on to say that some of the oil would be used to power a new electricity plant to help stem the growing shortage of electricity in the region.

Omar Fatah spoke about the importance of such projects for the region and congratulated the group on their hard work, reminding the crowds that it was President Jalal Talabani who put the ball back in motion in September 2005 following the pause taken during the war.

Prime Minister Barzani then spoke about the history of oil in the region saying that it was known in the 1960s that this area had oil: “From the 1960s, we knew that there was oil in this land, but we waited for freedom and our independence to conclude it.”

Barzani then went on to emphasize the importance of the provision in the constitution for the regions to be able to explore and harness the natural resources such as oil or gas in their region. Officials from TTOPCO were also there, Mehmed Sepil, Chief Executive of Genel Energy was keen to thank the KRG for their efforts in this project and he added that the group was hoping to expand beyond its 100 employees creating further jobs in the region.

The exploration and exploitation of oil in the Kurdish region has always been a contentious issue. Neighboring countries and indeed internal neighbors feel threatened by the prospect that the Kurds may actually be able to access and profit from their oil wealth. Saddam Hussein tried to “Arabize” the city and oil of Kirkuk during the notorious Anfal campaign of the 1980s, but he was only following in the footsteps of previous Baath regimes.

Many in the region view the Kurds accessing their oil wealth as a precursor to independence, which in the case of Iraq would deplete its national oil wealth. The external neighbors, namely Iran and Turkey have a two-fold fear of an independent Kurdistan. Not only would it cause unrest among the Kurds in those countries but it also raises the question of Kurdish natural resources (and profits) within their territories. Who would have thought that a village as small as Taqtaq could ruffle so many feathers?

Printed with permission. From Soma

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Another sad story - Red Kurdistan

June 05, 2006
By Nizameddin Rzayev

As a Kurd born in Red Kurdistan, the Kurdish area tucked away between Armenia and Azerbaijan and speaking very little Kurdish, ever since my childhood I became aware of our certain cultural differences from the rest of people-Azeris and Armenians around us. Although, I grew up speaking Azerbaijani, a branch of Turkic languages and some broken Russian, we still had a lot of strange-sounding, different words in our everyday language which were not used by Azeris. Afterwards I found out that these words were borrowed from Kurmanci which was our original language before being assimilated into speaking Azerbaijani. Some of the oldest community members were still able to speak Kurdish but since they belonged to the past that Soviet citizens had to dispense with in order to absorb “progressive” cosmopolitan communist ideals, they were in no position to pass on our cultural heritage and native language to us. Later my Mom told me that whenever her father and aunt did not want the children and outsiders to understand what they were talking about they switched from Azeri to Kurdish. All this knowledge further inflamed my insatiable, childish curiosity to delve into the mysterious past of my small part of Greater Kurdistan.

When we went to other parts of Azerbaijan and Armenia the locals called us Kurds or “Mountaineers” interchangeably. They sometimes sympathetically made fun of us because of our strict adherence to honor, self restraint and pride. For instance, we would seldom go to police or court if two people had any personal differences, viewing it a less manly means. There would always be older, respected member of our community there mediating to settle any problem. We could speak Azerbaijani fluently but with a distinct accent peculiar to only Kurds. We were on good terms with both Azeris and Armenians until the Karabax war threw us on the same side of battle with Azerbaijanis as their fellow citizens against Armenians.

Armenians evidently made no distinction between Moslem Kurds and Azeris when they captured all districts one by one that made up former Red Kurdistan adjacent to Nagorno Karabax. The irony was that Yezidi Kurds living in Armenia were fiercest Armenian soldiers fighting against their own brethren in Lachin and Kelbajar.

When I come to think about it, I tend to believe that the very same religious affinity with Azerbaijanis had been a big facilitating factor in the linguistic assimilation and loss of national identity of so many Kurds over the decades.

I had so many questions yearning for answer in my head about our Kurdish roots and history that I always bombarded my grandfather who could speak a broken Kurdish and other older people with my never-ending questions. But I was always disappointed not to find any reliable source exploring our national saga partly because any form of asserting national identity under Soviet Union was strongly discouraged and partly because most of the people in this part of Kurdistan had lost their history. The assimilation policy ruthlessly pursued against Kurds by the central government of Soviet Azerbaijan and isolation from their brethren in the “mainland” Kurdistan had done irreparable damage to Kurdish culture and language.

There were two theories voiced by elders as to the history of our community, one being that our grandfathers were moved as a part of 24 Kurdish tribes by Shah Abbas of Iran in 16th century from different parts of Irani Kurdistan and Xorasan to the Caucasus to fortify the borders of Safavids against Ottomans. But my grandfather claimed that we had come to the Caucasus from modern-day Southern Kurdistan (around modern Mosul, Kirkuk cities) 300 years before since our tribes (Ferihkhani) was one of the recalcitrant Kurdish tribes refusing to pay taxes to Ottomans. Thus, our true history was lost in the clouds of history and ruthless fate that befell Kurds in all the parts of our rightful homeland. Later I found out that Kurds had lived in the Caucasus since time immemorial, establishing strong Kurdish dynasties like Sheddadites, Revvadites that ruled big parts of modern-day Azerbaijan in 9th -13th centuries. Thus, there had always been Kurds in Red Kurdistan and other parts of Azerbaijan such as Nakhchevan before we came to settle in these beautiful, picturesque lands.

Kurds had left their indelible imprint on the folklore, music, literature and history of Azerbaijan. Old Mugams such as Kurd-Ovshari, Bayati-Kurd, Kurd-Shahnaz are still considered to be the best examples of classic music in modern-day Azerbaijan. In a famous epoch “Koroglu”, the bravery of “Kurdoglu” (Kurd’s son) against feudal pashas and landowners in redressing their injustices towards the poor and dispossessed is so exulted and praised. The world-famous classic of Azerbaijan literature Nizami Gencevi (1141-1209) devoted his famous poem “Xeyir and Sher” to the good deeds and virtues of a Kurdish girl and her rich farther, praising in so many words her beauty, compassion, generosity towards the helpless “Xeyir” by saving him from hunger and death.

During the heydays of perestroika launched by the last head of former Soviet Union, Gorbachov, there was a renewed interest in Kurdish culture and language. Late Shamil Askerov, a poet, tireless researcher and scholar on Kurdology born in Kelbajar were able to introduce Kurdish language classes in some Kurdish village schools. I remember how proud little Kurdish boys and girls were of new Kurdish words and phrases they had learned in school in my village called Zeylik. Unfortunately those good days were short-lived when the bloody Karabax war put an end to this initiative by dispersing all the Kurds around different corners of Azerbaijan.

Kurds lived in Red Kurdistan made up of four administrative units-Kelbajar, Lachin, Gubadly, Zengilan and part of Jebrail until 1993 when a long lasting bloody conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno Karabax drove all the Kurds out of their ancestral homeland. The founding and abolishment of Red Kurdistan is somewhat shrouded in mystery.

The tale related by our elders had it that Lenin personally gave the order to establish the Red Kurdistan. Nevertheless, there are certain facts that shed some light on the real story of this first-ever Kurdish Autonomy in modern history. Red Kurdistan was officially set up on July 7, 1923 by the decision of a Special Committee (The official Russian name was Kurdistanski Uezd), confirmed on July17 by the Executive Board of the Committee headed by S. Kirov, a high Bolshevik functionary. But the degree of autonomy granted on us paled in comparison to that of neighboring ethnic Armenians in Nagorno Garabax Autonomous Province. Kurdistanski Uezd was dissolved on April 8, 1929 after the Sixth Azerbaijani Congress of Soviets authorized the structural reshuffling of the administrative units.

Again on May 30, 1930 Central Executive Committee of Azerbaijan made the decision to establish Kurdistanski Okrug, Lachin chosen as its capital which also included other Kurdish districts-Zengilan and part of Jebrail rayonys (districts) that had been left out when Kurdistanski Uezd was created. But the Okrug only existed 2 and half months before the Central Executive Committee of Soviets and Council of People’s Commissar liquidated the Kurdistani Okrug on July 23, 1930. Interestingly, liquidation sidestepped the neighboring Nagorno Karabax Autonomous Province mostly because of the influence and strong resistance of Armenian communists in Moscow and Baku.

The role of nationalist Azeri beauracrats in this unjust decision for Kurds was probably substantial since there they had all the interest in the total assimilation of Azerbaijani Kurds and did not face any strong resistance from the mostly uneducated Kurdish Communities. By that time almost half the Kurds (mostly young generation) in this autonomous province had been assimilated into substituting widely-spoken Azerbaijani for their native Kurdish. The different official sources put the size of Kurdish population in Red Kurdistan at 60.000 after the October Revolution (1917) excluding the sizable Kurdish communities in Nakhchevan and other parts of Azerbaijan. To make matters worse, the official census taken in 1921 manipulated the real number of the Kurds by reclassifying those who did not speak Kurdish as a first language as “Azerbaijanis”. It is not surprising since Baku had no interest in the revival of Kurdish culture and national awareness among the young generation.

During this short-lived relative autonomy and a short period afterwards there were several government-sponsored expeditions led by V. Susoev, Chursin, orientalist V. Gurko, Kriyazhin, into the region to study the language, culture of the highlander Kurds.
Several articles on the Kurds of Soviet Azerbaijan were published in a communist newspaper “Zariya Vostoka” as a result of these expeditions.

Conference on national minorities was held in Baku in June 1931. Soviet author A Bukhspan published a very useful detailed booklet on the Kurds of Azerbaijan, traveling to lots of Kurdish villages and settlements in Kelbajar, Lachin and Nakchevan after the Moscow reproved Baku for its neglectful and chauvinistic policy towards the Kurdish minority. Around 30 Kurdish books were published in Azerbaijan between 1930 and 1938 despite the red tape and purposeful neglect by official Baku. Red Kurdistanis were briefly able to take Kurdish summer classes in 1931; the same year the newspaper “Soviet Kurdistan” was founded in Lachin; Kurdish Department was established at Shusha Pedagogical College In 1932 where my late grandfather, Jafar Ahmedov was sent as a teacher. For many years to come he would be deeply involved in the education of mountainous communities of Kelbajar and Lachin. His leadership and commitment to spreading education among the Kurdish villagers earned him a Lenin Order, one of the highest awards of Soviet Union.

This relative revival of Kurdish national awareness was cut short by Stalin’s notorious 1937- 1938 repression that was implemented with unheard of brutality by Mirrcefer Bagirov, the communist leader of Soviet Azerbaijan. The repression resulted in the closing of all Kurdish language schools and publication. Thousands of Kurds from Nakhchivan and Red Kurdistan were deported to Central Asian republics -Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. My grandfather’s family was one of these unfortunate Kurdish families who were deprived of all their possessions and property, declared the “enemy of people” because of their former landowner’s status, and exiled under inhuman conditions to Central Asia.

Later, some but not all of these families made it back to their homeland after this nightmare period was over. Unsurprisingly, most of the Kurds in Central Asia nowadays are the descendents of those Kurdish families deported from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia during the repression years.

The deplorable situation for Kurdish culture and self-awareness did not change much even after the repression was eased with Stalin’s death.

Nevertheless, there were sporadic expeditions and published work by Russian kurdologists such as T. Aristova (1957), K. Kromov(1961) Ch.

Bakaev(1960), a Yezidi Kurd by background, that dealt with the dialect and culture of Azerbaijani Kurds despite obstructions of Baku.

Bakhaev found out the presence of considerable concentration of Kurdish communities in other parts of Azerbaijan such as Xachmaz, Ismayilli, Yevlax. He also noted that Kurdish language fluency had remarkably deteriorated among the Azerbaijani Kurds, particularly among the young generation, Nakhchevani Kurds being an exception. Their studies provide some useful but not convincing information on the size of Kurdish population and Kurdish settlements in the country since they extensively relied on official census data.

The policy of wiping out all the traces of Kurdish culture is confirmed by the official census taken in 1959, 1970, 1979, and 1989 in Soviet Azerbaijan which manipulated the size of Kurdish minority of Azerbaijan to a greater extent by reclassifying most of the Kurds as “Azerbaijani”. The result was ridiculously low statistic for the size of Kurdish population in the country: 1,487 Kurds in 1959, 5, 488 Kurds in 1970, 5,676 Kurds in 1979, 12,226 Kurds in 1989. Besides, all the other new settlements in Red Kurdistan that had brunched out from the older Kurdish villages were reclassified as Azerbaijani villages purely because of the fact that the young brainwashed inhabitants in these settlements used Azerbaijani as their first language. (The widely-accepted consensus today is that there are at least 500,000 Kurds in Azerbaijan, a country of 8 million, excluding those who have been completely assimilated whereas the official data only admits the presence of 13-14 thousand Kurds in Azerbaijan)

The biggest disaster was still ahead for Red Kurdistan. The Upper Karabakh War Btween Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out in 1988 after the Armenian nationalists of Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia demanded separation of this autonomous province from Azerbaijan. The long-lasting conflict(1988-1995) had dire consequences for the population of Red Kurdistan: All the Kurdish settlements and districts were occupied by Armenian forces with the military support of Russia. The fierce rivalry for power in Baku and consequent confrontation between the different factions of unorganized National Army rendered Azerbaijani troops completely unable to defend the territories of the Republic, losing all the districts of Red Kurdistan – Lachin (1992), Kelbajar(1993), Zengilan(1993), Gubadli(1993),Cebrayil(1993) to Armenian forces without any resistance. As a result, the inhabitants of this former Kurdish Autonomy were driven out of their homelands and scattered around different parts of Azerbaijan.

Most of the displaced Kurdish population still lives in refugee tents and temporary settlements under harsh circumstances, waiting to turn back to their native homelands for over 13 years. The negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia to find a peaceful solution for resolving the conflict has produced no results so far. The Kurdish Cultural Center -“Ronayi”, is virtually unable to promote the Kurdish culture and language among the young assimilated Kurds because of lack of funding and watchful eye of government with evident pressure from Turkey. The dispersal of the Kurdish communities around the different corners of the country further complicates the task of putting up a common front to save our culture and language from the verge of extinction. However, a lot can be done to help revive the Kurdish culture in Azerbaijan by working towards practical goals such as opening Kurdish language courses and schools, providing the material to teach Kurdish, sending the young Kurds of Azerbaijan to study in cities like Suleymani, Hawler of Southern Kurdistan. In this respect, the Kurdish Diaspora in Europe, Kurdistan Regional Government and higher Kurdish officials of Iraq today can play an important role in improving the lot of these communities and facilitating the revival of our cultural heritage on the brink of extinction.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Kurds making a difference vis-à-vis the wrath of adversaries

May 31, 2006
By Eamad Mazouri

I, along with many other anxious observers have been following the column; both Onder Aytac and Emre Uslu are sharing in "The New Anatolian" daily.
What I found, is that many of their articles, while based on sheer imagination and irrational analysis, are also, startling and unsettling.
They shock many onlookers who righteously anticipate impartiality not only from the authors, but also from the moderate Anatolian English language daily, especially the articles titled "The Problems of Kurdish Intellectuals"; Segments I, II, III published May 3rd, 8th and 15th respectively.
In these three articles, the authors are trying desperately to portray themselves as credible, trustworthy and unbiased journalists in pursuit of the naked truth, nothing else, alluding to leave the false impression that they are employing merely scientific methodology and analysis in their research, trying from the goodness of the bottom of their bleeding hearts to steer away the Kurdish intellectuals from the wrong path of thinking, as they call it".
Any perceptive spectator can readily deduce from the content of these malevolent articles, the authors' real rationale in routing Kurdish intellectuals towards desperation, frustration and disenchantment with their legitimate cause not only in Turkey, but in Iraqi Kurdistan and beyond as well. In their futile attempt, and whereas endeavoring to present themselves not only as the true custodians of the Kurdish intellectuals' strategic thought, but also as the proper guardians of the Kurdish people's rights, they are lambasting on every Kurdish leader, organization and even condemning Kurdistan Regional Government and it's nascent democratic experience without sparing anything Kurdish out of this chaos and confusion they are trying in vain to create among the Kurds.
The Kurdish intellectuals on the other hand, should not be surprised or fall an easy prey to these chauvinistic views, poorly shrouded in neutrality coming from these two authors, especially if they have followed some of their previous writings, such as "Civil War and Kurds in Iraq" 7 March, 2006, where both are trying to provoke Arabs and Turkmen's denizens of Kirkuk city in an imaginary tale of a civil war of their own making.
If this is the way moderate and professional Turkish journalism reports the news, then I would have difficulty understanding how the partial making-news approach functions in this industry in contrast to that of the objective one, which I am sure the Turkish media in general is not immune from; If this is a sample of a moderate liberal thinking in today's Turkey, it would be troubling distinguishing that from the loathsome viewpoints and attitudes the Turkish Ultra-Nationalists express towards Kurds and their just plight on daily basis.
At any rate, let's take a closer look at some of the highlights that were underscored in all three phases of these unreliable and misleading articles.
Their whole concept is hovering around the globalization process, its impact on nation states, the power corporations are or will command and the relations between the two, washing it down all the way to the Kurdish great effort for freedom and liberty in relation to the Turkish state.
Any savoir-faire observer, with good grace, could smell the stench of the (Turkish Kurd-phobia) from the very start, the disease that decision makers in Turkey should cure themselves from if they need to have a new beginning to build a democratic society based on recognition instead of denial and forbearance instead of intolerance towards others.
In segment I of their article, both authors state and I quote "that the foremost problem that bedevils the Kurdish intellectuals (and for that matter the Turkish nationalists too)" here the readers need to notice the insertion of the latter sentence is only a pathetic attempt by the authors to vie for some credibility of course" is their inability to misread" I believe this is an error and should be inability to read" the globalization process." The article goes on "they argue" meaning Kurdish intellectuals" that since the globalization process undermines the autonomy of nation states, the Turkish State.. will also be weakened. "Hence "The declining autonomy of the state will enable the Kurdish people to establish an independent Kurdistan." In their views "here lies the problem." Why? They answer, because "states. will not be the sole actors but agents which regulate the global economy rules, and implement the rules to stabilize the territory." The article further states that "The purpose of this defined role of agency is to create an available environment within which the global economy can be maintained and order provided." According to their misleading message, therefore," .how the Kurdish intellectuals read globalization and hope to gain from it is simply a misreading of the nature of the process." Clearly, they are misreading the present and future as they have misread the past. They are trying to feed the Turkish public flawed information in an attempt to incite them against Kurdish population, instead of trying to explore some decent options on how to resolve this conflict as true intellectuals ought to do.
Naturally, they don't forget to refer to the very {evil} source of this misreading. They claim that "The biggest source of this misreading is the situation in northern Iraq." Explaining that" globalization pushes nation states toward democracy" but "if democracy won't sustain the stability of a strategically important state, then the international corporations would support family dictatorships".
By narrating this whole fabricated and unsubstantiated story, the authors finally come to this amusing conclusion, to quote them" .Due to the oil.
importance of Iraqi Kurdistan region. the international corporations are forced to work with Massoud Barzani dictatorship." as if Mr. Barzani was created yesterday by international corporations and he is not the upshot of decades of oppression, sufferings and constant struggle of the Kurdish people and their continuous legendary leadership. Kurds don't think they need Turks to judge their leaders whom they have chosen over a long odyssey of struggle and sufferings.
In this comic article, the two authors who combined their efforts to absurdly entertain their readers, wind up saying "The Kurdish intelligentsia is misreading the process, and they will be eventually disappointed when they finally realize that they got nothing of what they have hoped for."
As it cannot escape our attention, the authors are building this entire fictitious scenario of globalization process to convey to the Kurdish intellectuals a couple of messages.
First, they are seeking an independent state. Second, this is an impossible dream, without even providing them with any other viable option.
I would like to make a few clear statements here. On the first hand, the Kurds are not a minority and they do not see themselves in that light, but rather a divided nation against its will. This vulnerable nation, like any other nation, and much smaller ones, and according to UN chapters, international laws and treaties and every decent norm have the right to determine its own fate. That includes having a homeland. Whereas Kurds in other parts of Kurdistan are coerced into involuntary unions with the respective states of Turkey, Iran and Syria and deprived of their rights, especially those concerning the true participation in the political process, in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdish people have spoken through their parliament since 1992 and decided that the best available option for them is to enter into a voluntary union with Iraqi Arabs and minorities within a framework of a democratic federation. As a realistic approach, this option while allowing them to enjoy most of their rights, it provides them with the protection of a sovereign state. The safeguard they need to breathe freely, build and prosper.
Obviously, Turkish nationalists and those who think like them are not buying this legitimate argument despite the repeated assurances from the Kurdish leadership.
In phase II of their article, the authors are focusing on Kurdish intellectuals efforts to draw attention from the international community to their just cause in order to gain sympathy and support in their quest for a homeland. Surprisingly, they admit that this strategy is effective and has been successful. However, they claim, despite that, the Kurdish argument in this regard is riddled with three flaws:
1) "Kurdish intellectuals don't seem to understand that states do not act based on Romantic fantasies in the international arena. They act as rational actors which calculate the cost and benefits. Moreover, once regional states initiate democratic rules, such as Turkey and hopefully Iraq in the future, the Kurdish intellectuals' claim (of, and I am using their own terminology, living under tyrannical governments, being victimized, suppressed and deceived)loses its base in the international arena".
Once again, they are trying to portray the Kurdish objective as no more than an unachievable dream or fantasia. At the same time insinuating that Kurds have not been deprived, victimized and subjected to ethnic cleansing. According to them, the Kurds' entire tragedy is no more than fabrication woven and staged by Kurdish intellectuals on behest of foreign powers. They describe Turkey as full fledged democracy while Iraq might catch up, forgetting that Iraq today and even at its current circumstances is more democratic than Turkey in every field, especially in political participation, representation, minority rights, and freedom of expression.
It is worth mentioning that regional governments have finally realized the impact of the contribution of the Kurdish intellectuals in influencing the world public opinion regarding Kurds and Kurdistan and they are devising ways to counter that. It wasn't long ago, that I came across an article on a Syrian site written in Arabic that tried to convey the same message as these two are trying, but in a different way or more straight forward. The given article was focused on many articles written by various Kurdish writers, among them one of my own "The Kurds: The Orphans of the World", specifically those written in English, implying that Kurds are merely emulating Jews by exaggerating their tragedies (in their views the whole thing is as fabricated as Holocausts) to make the world feel guilty and earn their sympathy. This is the second time I come across such writings by Kurds' adversaries, which basically means, Kurds are on the right path and they are actually making a change, therefore they should continue to do so.
2) "The victimization argument has been overused to the point that it has lost some of its value for the international community. The victimization argument has been used too many times since the Holocaust. For example, even in the worst cases, like Chechnya in Russia, East Turkistan in China, or Kashmir in India, the international community tends not hear the victimized communities' screams."
Here, the authors basically are claiming that Holocaust, genocides, ethnic cleansing and the use of WMD, are no longer enough to catch the attention of the international community. That, dictatorships and corrupt governments are free to massacre and deprive people without slightest chance of any intervention, simply because the world is worn-out as a result of a steady increase of such events. Therefore, the destitute victims of such atrocities should bring their futile screams to an end; the world is not hearing their shouts and has turned a blind eye to their wretchedness.
"The Kurdish people, especially those in Turkey, are almost "perfect" when compared to those mentioned above."
We can leave the world through its human rights organizations to be the judge of that based on the facts on the ground and especially those in charge of Turkey's accession talks to EU, and their periodical evaluations.
(There is a distressing paragraph, I would like also to quote)" They (Kurdish Intellectuals) should also realize that in Middle Eastern culture, however wrong it may be, as a matter of fact problems are solved within family. Whenever one calls on outside help, they are treated as if they've committed an act of betrayal. Thus tinkering with the international intervention game could only help to increase the hatred of other ethnic groups. Therefore, it's highly likely that Kurds would be considered as betrayers."
I believe this particular paragraph leaves no room for any doubt concerning what the authors are maliciously referring to here. It is crystal clear, that they not only are referring to the Armenian Genocide by the Ottomans during the WWI, but they are justifying that, at the same time, forewarning Kurds as well that the same fate is waiting them as they would be considered traitors, if they persist on demanding their legitimate rights. When one finds such disturbing mentality in today's Turkey, he/she is compelled to wonder not only about its prospect to join EU, but also about the whole democratic reform process.
3) "The tyrannical reign of Massoud Barzani in the de facto Kurdish state in northern Iraq weakens Kurdish intellectuals' argument. The Kurds in northern Iraq don't live under a better democratic regime than the Kurds in Turkey."
Here, let's make room for a neutral individual, a well known scholar and academician to respond to these baseless accusations. In "Informed Comment" under "Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion, published Tuesday, May 09, 2006 "Mr. Juan Cole, a Professor of History at the University of Michigan says; "The New Anatolian article on "western romantic liberal" support for Kurdish independence was quite chilling. It pretty clearly states that if the Kurds appeal to the West for protection (against Turkey, Iran, Syria or perhaps a central government in Iraq), they will be considered as betraying their neighbors, and under the doctrine of self-interest, the neighboring states can feel justified to punish them just short of a Bosnia or Darfur-style campaign of ethnic cleansing, because then, and only then, will the West respond. Onder Aytac is probably right about that, but this kind of mindset explains why the Turkish government is so hated by its own Kurdish population. I spend a lot of time in SE Turkey, and although many people oppose the excesses of the PKK, the undercurrent of anger and cynicism toward the Turkish government is far greater." he further states" However, what Rubin (He means Michael Rubin) and Aytac Both neglect to mention is that Kamel Sayed Qadir was rapidly released from prison after his "conviction". To call Barzani's KDP the equivalent of a "fascist regime", as some have done, is perhaps hyperbole. I see a lot more similarities with Jordan, to be honest. In Jordan, you mess with the King's financial interests and tribal patronage network at your peril.
However, in both Jordan and Kurdistan, there is a relatively wide latitude for criticism within certain bounds, and considerable press freedom.
Certainly Iraqi Kurdistan has a far more open press and civil society than across the border in SE Turkey, or Ankara for that matter, which makes Aytac's article a bit ironic".
While Mr. Cole lent some criticism regardless of its nature to the Kurdish Administration, he continues furthermore to say that" I'm not a "Western romantic liberal" who sees KRG with unvarnished admiration. However, I would gladly settle for a similar degree of personal freedom and human services in any of the neighboring countries. I'm neutral on eventual independence, although Turkey would do well to look at the situation of Kosovo when thinking about the future of Iraqi Kurdistan. There is no more hope of forcing the Kurds back into a nation dominated by Muqtada al-Sadr (who seems to be gradually winning out over SCIRI) than there is of forcing the Kosovars back into Yugoslavia. Turkey and the West are better advised to take no extreme actions, and invest while pretending that Kurdistan doesn't exist. Give the Kurds another 15 years of ambiguous self-rule, and maybe they will work it out."
I believe this is the best response to their reference to Iraqi Kurdistan and KRG and it would suffice our purpose here.
In segment III of their article, these two stooges talk about an irony, claiming that "Despite the fact that Kurdish Intellectuals shape the Kurdish nationalism mostly in reaction to Turkish nationalism, they at the same time imitate Turkish nationalism as a model for Kurdish nationalism."
They shamelessly continue to admit to atrocities committed when building the new Turkey by Attaturk "In fact it is true that the early republican's elites attempted to engineer Turkish nationalism as the glue to keep the multi-ethnic community of the Anatolians together. To a large extent it was a successful project in that more than 30 different ethnic communities of Anatolia today define themselves as Turks. However, this attempt failed to bring the Kurdish community into the boundaries of the designed civic nationalism."
Here, the authors and to a great extent are trying to explore the reasons behind this imitation while failing to give any for the failure of Turkey to Turkify the Kurds when it succeeded with other Anatolian minorities. In their abortive attempt, they fail to come up with any, while mentioning the Nuri Dersimi manifesto called “Discourse to Kurdish Youth" which they claim is an imitation of Attaturk's "Discourse to Turkish Youth." We have no choice but to re-print it here for readers to do the comparison themselves:
"O young Kurd! O son of a brave nation that has for centuries despised
Usurpation! Listen to me! From the Indian Ocean to the Caucasus, in
The high mountains and sunny valleys of Asia Minor and Central Asia,
The light of humanity has brightened the proud foreheads of the
Sublime race that gave birth to you, at its very dawn. Your history is
The history of an unending legend .You are a child of a nation that ha
Fought tirelessly for centuries to live in honor and freedom. Thousands
Of offerings made to the Goddess of Liberty seek a grave; they ask us
To build a memorial in their honor. This memorial is a free independent Kurdistan."
As they reach the conclusion of their iniquitous article, they cannot help but to lash out one more time on Iraqi Kurdistan and its leaders." When the moves and rhetoric of Iraqi Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani are analyzed together, it can be clearly seen that they try to follow the path of the early Turkish republican elites. For example, in Turkey, in order to show him the nation's respect, Atwater's pictures are present in all government buildings. This Turkish vision of showing respect was imitated by the Kurds in northern Iraq in a funny way." The problem here is not just the ironic position of the Kurdish intellectuals.
They fail to offer an alternative to promote nationalism other than imitating the Turkish model of nationalism. The Kurdish intellectuals seem unaware of the fact that conditions have changed since the Turks successfully implemented Turkish nationalism. What they are trying to advocate today under the name of Kurdish nationalism are outdated arguments that were valid when nationalism was rising. In the era of globalization, advocating ethnic nationalism is running against the current or like selling Ayran (a yogurt drink) in nightclubs."
What kind of a double standard and hypocrisy is this? I cannot understand why and how the presence of Attaturk's images everywhere in Turkey is considered a sign of respect, while that of the Kurdish leaders is a peccadillo and only a "funny" imitation of the Turks, forgetting that the phenomenon is world-wide spread, and everywhere is considered the expression of respect and admiration by the people for their leaders, unless the authors think the experience was originally invented in Turkey and then imported to the rest of the world as it is the case with the most recent silly squabble between Turkey and Greece on who was the original inventor of Baklawa.
The authors claim to have studied the history of their country. However, they fail to remember that even the Turkish nationalism was theorized by Kurds such as the Ziya Gokalp who came from Amed city, who is deemed by majority of Kurds as a turn-coat, or should we let the Wikipedia Encyclopedia tell us who he was? It goes that Ziya Gökalp" was a prominent Turkish ideologue of Pan-Turkism or Turanism. His origin is Kurdish. But he said there is no difference between Kurdish and Turkish people and they are one nation". A concept that can only be described as absurd and ridiculous as the time has shown to both Turks and Kurds alike.
It is obvious that these contemptible writings do not serve the country of Turkey in her attempt to free itself from the complicated past and build a real democracy where all the ethnic and religious elements are recognized.
And they definitely do not help to seal the gap between Kurds and Turks in their search to find a better tomorrow peacefully for their new generations.