I wrote last week about the deaths of 24 Turkish soldiers at the hands of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers party, and included a short poetic summary of the conflict by my friend Arzu Tutuk, a Turk from Istanbul.
The conflict is important to America because it threatens the peace of Turkey, the most important Muslim ally of the United States. The campaign is creating a wedge issue that can poison relations between Turkey and all her neighbors as well as between Turkey and the rest of NATO.
I invited Arzu to expand on her thoughts about the conflict. Here they are:
For most of the Turkish people, it is difficult to face the truth. There is a PKK issue in Turkey. PKK is a terrorist organization. There’s also a Kurdish problem in Turkey. It’s another issue, but not totally different.
I have many Kurdish friends who live in Istanbul. They went to good schools, got a good education, have proper jobs and great families. They grew up in families where the mother only spoke Kurdish. They did not hear a word of Turkish until primary school. At primary school it is forbidden to speak any other language but Turkish. So they started with Turkish at primary school from their teacher, and switched back to Kurdish at home after school.
Then they migrated to Istanbul because they wanted to have better job opportunities, better schools for their children, better hospitals, better everything…nobody wants to be a shepherd in the middle of nowhere anymore. They want to share the welfare of the West. Why wouldn’t they?
They can not defend themselves in court in Kurdish. It is an illegal language. They can not sing in Kurdish in their weddings. They can not drive a car that has a license plate 21 (Diyarbakir’s) in Istanbul because they will be stopped by the police very often.
They are guilty until they are proved to be innocent. Because they are Kurdish.
These people do not want to separate from Turkey into a separate country called Kurdistan. These people want to live as normal human beings, equal to any Turkish person.
They want to be recognized as a different ethnic people. Yes, they are another ethnic group. They are Kurdish.
Turkey could have done better. We could have invested in the east too.
PKK is another issue because it is very political, and it is difficult to understand what is going on. Who says/does what and why? It’s an issue where Iraq, US, Turkey, Iran and Syria and God knows who are involved.
Syria, sponsored by Iran, has problems. What does Turkey do? Support Syria? Support people of Syria? Does Iran like this? What is Israel going to say? If you do not support Syria, Iran helps them, Iran then helps PKK in its borders…
Ah, it is a wonderful country I love Turkey…never is boring.
And our Parliament: Kurds elected 36 members of the Kurdish BDP party to Turkey’s 550-seat parliament. Before the elections, the elections board certified that all were eligible to be elected. [That is, all were cleared of any connection to the outlawed PKK party.]
Hurrraaaahhh the Kurds are in…what else do you want? Yes they are represented. If you are unhappy, tell your MP, he will help. It’s a democracy.
Oh no! Some people weren’t eligible! We just knew. We are sorry you can not be members of the parliament. We overlooked some things.
Who gets in instead? AKP [the ruling party] members.
So what do the other Kurd members do? Protest. If you do not change what you have just done, we will not go to the parliament at all and take our oath. People have elected us. We are eligible. Do not do this. Respect the peoples will. Face it. No.
So we have more AKP and fewer Kurds in the parliament. So what happened to my vote??
Yes, of course you do not have to vote for BDP even if you are Kurdish. Of course you can vote for BDP even if you are Turkish.
How much is BDP related with PKK? Of course they are related. It’s these people’s children who are in the mountains and are trained against the Turkish army. Because we did not give them the opportunities of good welfare. Who leaves the comforts of his house and goes to a mountain to be a terrorist?