Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Turks’ perplexity with the Kurdish issue - By Dr. Kirmanj Gundi

The modern Turkish Republic, like its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire, has been a multi-ethnic state. Nonetheless, the Turkish leadership overlooked such a reality and adopted a new Constitution on which it was founded on the mono-ethnic identity driven from the school of thought of Ataturk, “He is fortunate who calls himself a Turk.”

The Turkish leaders adapted such a thought and integrated it into the new Turkish Constitution, “Everyone bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship is a Turk,” (Turkish Constitution, Chapter Four, Turkish Citizenship, Article 66).

Such an unbalanced Constitution and unrealistic political decisions have created a societal plague that has prevented the Turks from growing into a tolerant society. Consequently, they see no other ethnic groups equal to themselves.

Turkey, as an Islamic entity, is a democratic and secular state on which is founded on “loyalty to the nationalism of Ataturk,” which is based on a mono-Turkish tone; a premise which contradicts every principle of democracy.

For the ambitious Turkish leaders, to have a brighter and more prosperous future with the EU need to ask themselves, will it be possible to achieve their goal without amending Turkey’s Constitution to meet the basic democratic standards where every individual and ethnic group is equally respected?

Turkey’s dream of becoming a member of the democratic EU is a matter worthy of support by all of her friends including the Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan, because Turkish membership to the EU not only benefits Turkey, but also the Kurds and the entire Middle East.

If Turkey could subdue the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and even dismantle the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), it would only be perceived as if the Turks had won the battle, but not the war. For the Turks to win the peace they should accept the Kurds and try to find a political solution to the Kurdish issue. Using the PKK as a pretext to suppress more than 20 million Kurds in Turkey and threaten the KRG in Iraq will only draw the Turks into a deepened quagmire in which there will be no winner.

The PKK must also relinquish its military campaigns against the Turkish state. It must adopt a new non-violent political means to make its voice heard. The bloodshed of innocent Kurds and Turks must come to an end. However, it can only be feasible when the leadership of both sides get out of the cycle of hate and fear, enemy and war, and see themselves as organs of the same common humanity where together they all will flourish.

Dr. Kirmanj Gundi is a Professor at Tennessee State University-Nashville, Tennessee.

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