Iraqi Kurd Op-Ed: Turkey must Recognize Kurds for there to be Dialogue

The USG Open Source Center translates an article by an Iraqi Kurd writer, “Diyar Gharib,” calling on Turkey to recognize the Kurdish people as a first step toward productive political dialogue.

Iraq Kurd writer says dialogue impossible without Turkey recognizing Kurds
Saturday, November 10, 2007 . . .
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

Iraq Kurd writer says dialogue impossible without Turkey recognizing Kurds

Text of article by Diyar Gharib entitled “What kind of dialogue with Turkey?”, carried by independent Iraqi Kurdish newspaper Hawlati on 7 November:

We often hear from Kurdish or foreign officials that the PKK PKK crisis cannot be solved though military means but through dialogue. It is stressed that this age is the age of dialogue. The time of war and the language of war are over. For this purpose they call upon the PKK not to fight and instead try to solve their issue with Turkey through dialogue. To this point, everything is of course normal. It is normal that there are groups, parties and people who wish to have conflicts solved through peaceful political dialogue. This attitude deserves respect and is much appreciated. But what attracts attention about these external interventions that the people (who ask the PKK not to use violence) ignore the current and previous cease-fires observed by the PKK. They also fail to mention that Turkey not only has failed to respond or even acknowledge PKK cease-fires, but it has continued to attack the Kurdish people and the PKK in every possible way.

Furthermore, Turkey does not recognize the identity and existence of the Kurdish people. The odd thing is that the above-mentioned officials keep silent about these issues. This means they ignore the main reasons that cause violence and continuation of conflict and environment of war which are not the Kurds and the PKK but the ideology and political policy of the Turkish state. Turkish ideology is that any citizen who cannot say “I am a happy Turk” has no citizenship rights and are considered aliens to be punished and marginalized.

It is obvious that there are many dignified persons and groups in Turkey who, while consider themselves the citizens of Turkey, refuse to describe themselves as Turks. This is a natural right of these people to feel and express themselves in this way because they belong to different ethnic groups. The denial of differences and diversity and insistence on forcibly imposing one identity on all the national groups and cultures as well as imposing directly and indirectly non-democratic coercive laws and practices is in itself is terror and causes the creation of tension and conflict among different ethnic groups. Thus, it is the nation or power that has the political and state control and uses such non-democratic laws and practices that is responsible for the creation of terror and conflict among its citizens. Those who deny these facts today are the Turkish state and Turks not Kurds. The root cause of the conflict is the policies of the Turkish state.

Acknowledging this first, then it is normal to call upon the PKK to use peaceful means for the resolution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey. It is also normal to call upon Turkey too to respond to the PKK. But it is not right to speak of Turkey as if it were a peaceful innocent side of the conflict. Also when some talk about dialogue they should also explain the principles of dialogue to which democrats and peace-loving people must adhere because without such principles and criteria there would be confusion and ambiguity about those who want peace and those who insist on violence and war.
The following are some principles which I believe should set this straight:

1. The Turkish state must formally recognize the existence and identity of the Kurdish people in Turkey.

2. Turkey should recognize the PKK and accept to enter into dialogue and negotiate with them.

3. Turkey should accept international mediation in drafting a solution to PKK and Kurdish question.
These principles, the first two in particular, are basic and essential. Any call for peace and dialogue that does not pay attention to these principles cannot lead to any result apart from supporting the continuation of racist policies of denial and genocide against the Kurdish people.

Erdogan said recently (on the PKK): let them lay down arms and exercise politics within the framework of (Turkish) parliament. This statement by Erdogan was undeservedly exaggerated by officials and the media. They were quick to ask the PKK to immediately respond to Erdogan. Some were about to transform Erdogan, in our easy, to Ghandi. Thank God, Erdogan himself put an end to this when he said PKK officials must be punished while others could benefit from the repentance law. This is what Erdogan means when he asks PKK to practice politics under the umbrella of Turkish parliament. In other words, Erdogan has not said anything towards pursuing a peaceful solution of the Kurdish question. He was only reaffirming the same racist policies of Turkey in a political language.
If the PKK had accepted these policies of the Turkish state it would not have taken up arms in the first place. On the other hand, the PKK fighters are not bandits and robbers to take advantage of repentance law.

Here I find it necessary that Kurdish officials, the media and writers be careful enough not to make such big political mistakes. Today Turkey is in the middle of a crisis and it tries to use various methods to save itself from this it. Hence, it varies its political language to suit its purpose. Sometimes it talks of dialogue and peace. But whenever we hear these words we must not forget the principles I have mentioned earlier. We must also not forget that it is their parliament that has decreed a war.

Let us not fall in these traps again. Let us not allow others to trample on our rights in the name of peace and dialogue. ‘

(Description of Source: Al-Sulaymaniyah Hawlati in Sorani Kurdish — weekly independent newspaper)

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