Will the PKK Disarm?

Published 16.07.2015 23:34

Instead of glorifying terrorism and demonizing Turkey, the PKK/KCK should lay down arms without conditions. The vast majority of Kurds want peace just as the vast majority of Turks do

One of the key issues after the June 7 elections is the future of the "solution" process. It is expected to resolve the Kurdish issue and bring an end to PKK violence. But instead of laying down arms and following a responsible political line, the PKK and its political wing, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) is making excuses to continue armed struggle and legitimize the PKK's politics of terrorism. After weeks of calls and public pressure, HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş finally made a call on the PKK "to lay down arms against Turkey." The statement came in a TV interview as a marginal note and with a muted voice. He said "against Turkey," thus conditioning his call. Demirtaş claimed that his call will not have any impact with the PKK because he is not in a position to make such a demand. The call should be made by Abdullah Öcalan. This is rather ironic and self-contradictory. It is ironic because the HDP claims to play a central role in the peace process but says that it is in no position to make any political demands on the PKK. It says it has to be taken seriously but cannot confront the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) or the PKK on key political issues. The fact of the matter is that the HDP cannot make any independent decision on key issues and gets its orders from the KCK/PKK.Contrary to Demirtaş's claim or due to his total oblivion of facts, Öcalan did make a call in February of this year on the KCK to hold a congress to end all armed struggle. The call was supposed to be the end of PKK terrorism. Nothing has come out of it. Instead of expanding the sphere of democratic politics, the PKK and HDP are engaged in a delusional attempt to glorify terrorism, romanticize the "life in the mountains," i.e. PKK militancy, and turn PKK violence into an aesthetic discourse. Furthermore, the HDP's claim to be "an all-Turkey party" is undermined by its total impotence vis-à-vis PKK's politics of rural and urban terrorism. Trying to explain and justify the KCK/PKK's warmongering cannot be the sole function of a political party with 80 representatives in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM).

Recently, the PKK is using the war in Syria to justify its armed struggle. But clearly this is a political game. PKK terrorism has existed long before the Syrian war. Instead of thanking Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for accepting thousands of Kurds from Kobani and Tal Abyad, Syria and saving them from the barbarity of ISIS, the PKK and its political wing HDP run a smear campaign and seek to sow seeds of hatred and animosity. So much for politics of civility and liberalism! Let's remember: On Oct. 7 last year, the PKK and HDP called on their supporters to go out on the streets to protest. The result has been a disaster. The street violence, anarchy and vandalism led to the death of 50 people, wounding of hundreds and millions of dollars in damages. PKK operatives burnt schools, looted libraries and museums, attacked shops and police stations, set on fire city buses, Red Crescent cars and public property.

Despite ongoing violence perpetrated by PKK militants, the HDP refuses to condemn it mostly for fear of retaliation from the KCK/PKK. Neither the PKK nor the HDP can claim to speak for all Kurds in Turkey or in Iraq or in Syria. The identification of the Kurdish people and the PKK is an ideological tool used by the PKK but cannot be taken seriously. The PKK presents its own demands as the demands of the Kurdish people, posturing as the sole representative of the Kurdish people. This is nothing more than political manipulation and extortion.

The PKK fought a bloody war against Turkey since 1984. The war claimed the lives of 40,000 people, wounded thousands and cost billions of dollars. The failed policies of denial, assimilation and collective punishment have now been overcome. Much has been done to bridge the socio-economic gap between the east and west of the country. Billions of dollars have been invested in infrastructure, agriculture, transportation and education in the predominantly Kurdish areas. New roads, airports and universities have allowed a greater degree of social mobility for citizens.

Major progress has been made in regards to the acceptance of Kurds as part of Turkey's tapestry of multiple ethnic identities. It is no longer a social or political anathema to identify oneself as a Kurd. The new map of Turkey's social imagination now allows greater acceptance and inclusiveness across religious and ethnic identities. The last decade saw the lifting of restrictions on the use of Kurdish language in media, political campaigns, public speeches, books and magazines, social media, courts, prisons, schools and government offices. Optional Kurdish language courses have been introduced in schools. Religious scholars and imams give sermons in Kurdish. TV-Kurdi, a state TV channel, broadcasts in Kurdish 24/7.

Despite huge progress in these areas, the PKK refuses to disarm and the HDP keeps making excuses. Much has changed since the 1980s and the HDP, more than any other actor, has enjoyed the change. But they still claim that Turkey has remained in the 1970s. From Turkey to Iraq, Syria and Iran, Turks and Kurds share a common culture, history and geography. They also share a common future. Instead of glorifying terrorism and demonizing Turkey, the PKK/KCK should lay down arms without conditions. The vast majority of Kurds want peace just as the vast majority of Turks do. Neither the PKK nor the HDP has the right to derail this process.

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