PKK terrorism is doubtlessly the real problem

Published 14.08.2017 23:41

A youngster was murdered by PKK terrorists in the northern Black Sea region of Turkey, together with a member of the Armed Forces. The young boy, Eren Bülbül, only 16, had seen a number of suspects trying to steal food from a house in the rural area. He wanted to alert the Gendarmerie, and when he was asked to be taken to the place where he had seen the intruders, he was caught in the cross fire. The attack claimed the lives of Eren and Sergeant Major Ferhat Gedik, both succumbing to their wounds.

The incident took place in Maçka, Trabzon, a place where there is no Kurdish population living. The mountainous region is sparsely populated and quite suitable for armed terrorists to hide.

The question is what were these terrorists doing in the mountains of the Black Sea? These beautiful regions, once inhabited together with the Greeks, Armenians and Turks, having hosted centennial cultures of Pontus and Armenia, of Karakeçili Turcomans, are today exclusively populated by Turks. The attack took place next to the abandoned Armenian Monastery of Vazelon. This region was subject to so many tragic incidents at the beginning of the 20th century and it does not need to have any more ultra-nationalistic terrorist attacks to ignite enmity within the population.

This is what the PKK is: an ultra-nationalistic terror organization, which has no place in today's Turkish society. Yes, Turkey has a salient Kurdish problem, but no, what we have to deal with first is the existence of a bloodthirsty organization like the PKK.

The Kurdish problem will not see any real resolution as long as the existence of the "organization," as it is commonly called by the Kurds, continues. The PKK emerged as an armed movement in the aftermath of the military takeover in 1980. They existed before, a rather insignificant movement among a plethora of other underground Kurdish and Turkish left wing groupings. They acquired their infamous notoriety by first wiping out all the opposition movements, mostly through killings and abductions. What made them so "untouchable" for some Kurdish public and the extreme left was their ability to staunchly oppose and resist the Turkish military regime. Nevertheless, it wasn't until after 1983, when the first electoral change occurred and when the long and tedious march towards democracy began. In a way, the PKK waited for the military regime to completely wipe out the leftist resistance to start its struggle. It was perhaps the first Kurdish nationalist movement, transcending all regional and so-called tribal dissensions between the Kurds of Turkey. Its capacity to get organized in every country and region having a sizeable Kurdish population, be it Iran, Turkey, Iraq or even northern Syria, demonstrates this "new" level of Kurdish nationalism.

The Turkish state was utterly incapable of fighting ideologically against such an eruption of nationalism. It still does not know what to do with the PKK or the Kurdish issue. Very promising prospective solutions have been found in the recent past, like the reconciliation process, that were unfortunately bluntly terminated. Kurds in Turkey do enjoy cultural freedom, which they have never had in the whole history of the Republic. This is far from enough, because they are squeezed between two forces: On the one hand, the Turkish State tells its citizens how not to be a Kurd, on the other hand, the PKK tells them how to be a Kurd. Failing to do so may be punishable by assassination by the PKK, and by imprisonment by the state.

The Turkish state can hardly be given as an example of tolerance for any pluralistic way of living. However, the necessary steps taken toward establishing a "modus vivendi," a democratic pluralism that is acceptable to Kurds and Turks alike cannot be successful. The only reason why is the very existence of the PKK. Back in 2013, nothing could explain, let alone justify, a resuming of the armed struggle. The PKK wanted it and did it. Sending youngsters to certain death in the mountains of eastern Turkey is the only way for this terrible organization to survive. It cannot afford a peaceful solution. In this sense, the PKK resembles the Khmer Rouge. They can exist only if there are killings, only if there is deep hatred and violence. The PKK has the Turks as the main target. The Khmer Rouge did not have such an easy divide within the Kampuchean society; this did not prevent them from killing close to 2 million of their fellow compatriots.

Asking for more democracy, pluralism and freedom of expression in today's Turkey is a very legitimate right and duty. However, any lenience shown toward the PKK removes any support such demands may have among the public. The task is to separate the PKK from the legitimate demands of Turkey's Kurds. It is an enormous task and it is up to both the Kurds and the Turks of Turkey to clearly separate the "Kurdish question" and the PKK.

Reasoning in terms of "killing the other" ossifies the thinking and de-humanizes the debate. There is no "justifiable" assassination. We, as a Turkish society, cannot continue to live in an environment where "some" killings remain acceptable. Some are even called "honorable." We have to condemn the PKK, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), Daesh, the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) within state institutions and any organization that "kills". Otherwise, we will not be able to overcome the violence and hatred that impregnates, in different forms, all segments of our society.

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