By BULENT KENES
(This article is originally published on tr724.com in Turkish)
How would a Kurd feel? I do not know exactly myself either, because I am not Kurdish. But I am a human being and I can more or less guess what the Kurds who are humans like myself feel about the atrocities and unfair treatments they are exposed today.
I can only “guess”, because I do not think that even those with the strongest empathising abilities can exactly understand the feelings and the thoughts of the Kurds who have been constantly and systematically subjected to atrocity, discrimination, defamation and attack over their language, culture, lifestyle and even right to live.
Did you ever think what kind of an emotion it is to feel that since the beginning of the 1900s you have been constantly deceived by those with whom you had shared a common fate together since the beginning of 1000s? Can you ever understand how great a tragedy it is to be alienated, oppressed and persecuted by the very people with whom you had become inseparable; ran together from one war-front to the other in order to defend the heirloom territory to be able to make it your homeland again; and together with whom you have struggled and sacrificed your lives, your blood and all what you have got?
Substituting the reflex of paranoia instead of developing the skill of governance
Did you ever think how it is to be treated all the time as the “others”, who are always suspected and not trusted by a regime, who fears from everything and is not able to be all-inclusive and sharing due to the rulers driven by their selfish ambitions, who dreads everything that is slightly different than you, who turned paranoia into their daily reflex instead of improving their skill of governance? What kind of an agonising effort and struggle is it due to the paranoia that the regime is obsessed with, to be relocated from one place to another; to be ripped away from your home and land like an unrooted, centuries old, grand oak trees; to be forced to start your life all over from zero and try again to spread your roots, at stranger places whose language is foreign, whose weather is unfamiliar and whose territory is stranger?
Did you ever think how great a tragedy is it to be constantly exposed to the disease of neglecting or annihilating “the different” in the deviant ages which have been stormed with nationalism, racism and fascism?
Think about it; your identity, which you are proud to be part of and you have been carrying for thousands of years is suddenly declared void. Moreover, those who count your self-respect and your identity null did not give you a hang and did not even take the pain to develop a proper theory to do all that. On the contrary, they diverted in a derogatory path of cheapness and facileness. For example, with a so-called theory, they put forward with such a stupidity that disdains the intelligence of their interlocutors, which claims that “There is not a race called Kurdish. Those who are called ‘Kurd’ today, are nothing more than the Turks who were making noises of ‘kard-kurd’ while walking on the snow on the mountains!” Really, did you ever try to count up what consequences that the trauma of that facile derogation may/and have create/d? Indeed, have you ever worried about the emotional destruction, social severance and estrangement that has been caused by imprinting, “How happy is he, who can say ‘I am a Turk’” on hills and rocks, forests and grasslands –which both reveals the national complexes of the utterers of these words and insults the others?
How would you feel if your identity is shown as the only reason for the atrocities?
How would you feel if you were put inside a prison together with thousands of others without having been questioned whether you were guilty or not; forced to salute dogs accompanied by fascist marches; plunged into sewage until your neck and kept in this position for days; forced to eat faeces –as all had been done in the aftermath of the 12 September 1980 military coup– and your identity has been shown as the only reason for all these despicable atrocities?
If your God-given mother tongue –which exists since the pre-historic times– is tried to be ripped off from you and is used always as an excuse to insult you, would you rebel against or would you swallow all what had happened and with a dishonourable carelessness just continue on your way by perfectly adapting to the new conditions?
Suppose that even in the parliament, where you represent tens of thousands of your people, whenever you attempt to utter a few words in your mother tongue, your words are put back into your mouth, alongside various offensive accusations and insults thrown at you. Or, your frequently interrupted statements are written in the minutes as “in an unknown, strange language”… Under such humiliating circumstances, would you feel yourself emotionally connected to that state and regime?
Last winter when the temperature was between 10-15 degrees centigrade, I read an article in a newspaper published in the country where I am currently living. In this country, where Romans coming from Romania and Bulgaria occupy themselves with mendacity at every corner, one theatre player and his writer wife, who are both over their fifties, wondered how these people are feeling. To learn this, they sat in the place of a beggar and begged from morning till evening in that cold weather, and gave them the money they had collected. They thought empathising is not enough and instead they themselves wanted to live that experience. They personally experienced how they live and then shared their experience and feelings with their thousands of readers. I can say that after I read that article my view on the Romans I encounter on my way has changed. How about us? Can we dare to place ourselves in the shoes of the Kurds –who can be our neighbour, colleague, shop keeper, grocer, teacher, student, etc.– and experience the estrangement, humiliation and insult they have been subjected to?
How about us? Can we dare to place ourselves in the shoes of the Kurds –who can be our neighbour, colleague, shop keeper, grocer, teacher, student, etc.– and experience the estrangement, humiliation and insult they have been subjected to?
17000 Unsolved homicides whose victims are denied even a grave
Would our hearts be able to bear the grief, if we would be one of the Cumartesi Anneleri (Mothers meet at Saturdays), who even decades later do not know what had happened to their children, who come together every week and ask the government about the fate of their beloved children, who were not buried properly in a grave? Or have you ever thought how you would feel if you would be a relative, mother, father, sibling, partner or child of one of the thousands of Kurds, who had been taken away from their homes by the gendarmerie, JİTEM (gendarmerie secret intelligence force), police or the guerrillas of the deep state and have not heard anything of him since? How would you feel or what would you think, if you heard the narrations or information claiming that the bodies of some victims of the 17,000 missing persons, among whom is your family member –who were either killed or unjustly executed and not even buried in a grave– had been dissolved in acid wells? Would you just lend a deaf ear to all that by saying “There must be something that the state knows, nothing is without a reason”? Or would a storm or rioting feelings break deep in your heart? Really, how would you feel if your properties and belongings would be pillaged, your homes would be brought down in ruins, and your houses in the place you came penniless and sought refuge after you had been expelled from your homelands, too –as it had happened years ago in Sur, Silvan– would be destroyed completely? Would you feel grateful to the state and those atrocious ones who are governing the state, or would an avalanche of anger and hatred roll down to the bottom of your heart and sit there with all its unbearable weight?
Honestly, how would you really feel if the hypocritical faith-cheaters ruling over you shed crocodile tears for an atrocity happening on the other side of the world, but would commit the same or even worse cruelty to you –whom they incessantly call “our brothers and sisters in religion”– without batting an eye?
What would you really feel if they; as if it is not enough to shot your children as a result of an extrajudicial execution and tie their still alive, agonised bodies to the rear end of the armoured vehicles and drag them along on the streets, filmed this savagery and broadcast it as if it is a great work? Or if you could not get permission for burial and would have to keep the dead body of your sweetheart child, who had been the target of the bullets while sitting inside her home, in your fridge? Or if your over-60-years-old mother would be shot in the middle of the street and because of the severe curfew, you would not be able to go out and reclaim her body for days, and have to keep watching for the hungry dogs and stone them away from the body of your mum? Or if you were burnt to ashes in the basements where you had taken shelter, were deprived of food and everything together with all your family and other people among whom there were children, young and elderly? Or if they would enter the most private part of your homes and write perverse and vicious messages on your mirror and wall, and scatter the remnants of their vile acts all around your house? Or if they would eventually bring your houses on top of you, after surrounding your city for months with tanks and cannons? Honestly how would you feel?
Would anything be left inside you that is not ripped apart?
Then, if the “Heroic Turkish security forces” would arrogantly drive their armoured vehicles on the streets of your city, as if it is the enemy’s territory and they are like the invading forces filled with feelings of revenge and film the completely destroyed town centre and talk about, “Showing the power of the Turk to everyone,” would anything be left in you that is not broken?
Would you be able to respect or love in the slightest degree a state that does not only murder you with its tanks, rockets and jets inside its own country in such an easy way as if it is ridding of pests and also troubles you for your relatives living on the other side of the border, who have nothing to do with your state? What would you think or how would you feel, if you would be a Kurd and your state –which for many years, had no problem at all with Saddam, had never worried about the presence of the savage ISIS at its border– very strangely shows a greater reaction than the Baghdad government itself against the free election held for the Kurds, who have long been living in Iraq, to have the right to govern themselves, which is accepted by the Iraqi constitution?
Regarding the reaction of your state on this domestic issue of another country, would you not at least say, “Come on, what’s it to you?” I think there is not any chance for a surprising result to come out on Monday from the referendum held in Kurdistan. However, because of the ludicrous policies followed in the region and the uttered witless statements, the loser of this referendum –which potentially carries the risk of disturbing many of the geopolitical fault lines in the region and causing political quakes– is already obvious: Turkey.
It is a known fact that the Kurdish population of the Northern Iraq have been looking forward to having the right conditions for many years to be able to conduct this referendum, which they had postponed a few times. We have not got any reason to doubt about that the Kurds living in the region, who, especially for the last 15 years have been able to exhibit the best performance in perusing and handling the regional and international political balances, are going over the present conditions with a fine-toothed comb. It can be claimed that they have attained the implicit support of the prominent powers –although they have different official discourses– which they must primarily take into account.
The eclipsed reason, blocked discernment and paralysed sagacity
This referendum, like an arrow shot out of its bow with the years of accumulated energy, heading toward its target, has started a process of no return. While this is the real situation, it is not difficult at all to guess that the great powers’ final preferences will take shape in favour of the Kurds. One of the most important reasons of this is none other than the unreasonable, illogical and incoherent foreign policies and strange statements of Erdogan regime that has lost the touch with reality. It is actually not a small success (!) to be able to make a regional formation, which could be Turkey’s socio-politically, diplomatically and economically most natural ally and closest friend an enemy right off the bat even without spending any particular effort. Unfortunately, instead of benefitting the comfort of a buffer zone that could be provided by a relatively more agreeable Kurdish region, formed between Turkey and the unstable Arab world, to take a much tougher line than the Baghdad regime against the formation of this Kurdish region and making it enemy even before it has formed, cannot be described better than calling it “an eclipse of reason, a blockage of discernment and paralysis of sagacity”. I do not know whether the adopters of this attitude are aware or not, but this attitude gives a terrifying message to our Kurdish citizens, maybe more than it gives to Kurdistan. It is very obvious that this message is not going to serve any purpose other than strengthening the dangerous perception that evokes the thought that the things granted to everyone in Turkey are not granted for the Kurds. Because of this, “How would a Kurd feel?” is the vital question needed to be deliberated and deeply considered before taking any step about any matter that concerns the Kurds. And the Kurds in question should be both those who are living inside the borders of Turkey and those beyond our borders, no matter how far or close they are…