The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was formed in the wake of the destructive effects of the Sept. 12 coup because it rejected the Kurdish reality. Some of the torture inflicted by coup supporters on people, especially at Diyarbakır Prison, caused great resentment. The paradigm spouted by the leader of the coup supporters, Kenan Evren, was that “the Kurds are not a separate people, and thus there is no Kurdish problem.” This paradigm was linked with the banning of Kurdish as a language, all sorts of violations of human rights, the burning-down of villages and the scapegoating of legal Kurdish politics; what all of this did was make violence the only accepted and used language. The PKK, during this period, began to distinguish itself as the most organized of the Kurdish groups around, and began to represent the Kurdish problem. So much so that alternative Kurdish political movements were left voiceless and illegitimate, seemingly in the middle of all of the violence. And as for the Kurdish people, they gave their support to this organization, which appeared to promise that it would protect people from the state. After all, the blood was already running in the streets.
These days, a significant number of Kurds attribute the greatest share in the general recognition of the Kurdish problem and the fact that the Turkish government has started a Kurdish initiative to the PKK itself. Whether or not you agree, this is the reality. Many Kurdish citizens still do not trust the state.
And thus, like the Japanese units that kept right on fighting after WWII was over, the Turks and the Kurds do not seem able to shrug off the spirit of war themselves. The problems may continue, and the steps taken on the Kurdish initiative may be insufficient, but they are not able to digest the idea that warring is not the way towards a solution, and thus, the situation is really tragic.
We are in a state of having been caught unprepared for peace. We have fought so hard, been so exhausted and started to believe so deeply that the situation will never change that we never even consider that the struggle for rights can be carried on through vehicles other than violence. But the worst aspect of this all is that people are truly still dying, and we all live with the fear of hearing news about more deaths at any moment.
Alright, but in what is this all rooted?
The most important reality, and one which we cannot deny, is that we have in our midst an armed and violent organization, the PKK, which manages to carry on existing. No matter how much we distinguish the Kurdish problem from the PKK problem, this particular reality follows the Kurdish problems around and has considerable influence. A group accustomed to keeping arms at hand cannot become integrated into politics, nor can it take the steps necessary to refrain from considering arms as an option. At the same time, just as there are no truly meaningful offers being made to the PKK other than “turn yourselves in,” the PKK also possesses a strong vein that wishes to see the war continue. This is really the correct perspective with which to view attacks in places such as Reşadiye, İskenderun, Dörtyol and Kastamonu.
Just as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said himself on many occasions, the Kurdish initiative is essentially a political party trying to hold its own against a very deep-rooted and complicated problem. When the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) started this initiative, Prime Minister Erdoğan did not make statements like this. He seemed to have much more confidence on this front, believing fully that the problem could be solved. After all, he had very serious support from the people of the country behind him. But further than that, he knew that the time had really come for a solution, and he knew what needed to be done.
Erdoğan, in defining the problem itself, and in speaking openly about the mistakes made by the state on this issue, has taken great steps on the Kurdish problem front. The problem is no longer a taboo. It has become a problem that can now be solved by political solutions.
But just as Erdoğan has indicated, the AK Party, as a political party shouldering the Kurdish problem on its own, has been negatively affected on the vote front because of this venture. And thus, people in the AK Party ranks are beginning to think that it is rather unfair for the party to have to shoulder all the weight on its own. With the elections fast approaching, this weight has really become a source pressure for the AK Party, and in fact the Kurdish initiative has really petered out lately.
The third reason for the deep-rooted nature of this problem is that neither the Turks nor the Kurds have been able to mourn all the people they have lost, and at the same time, their anger has not been used up either. There have really been no meaningful steps taken in the direction of transcending emotional and psychological barriers. We have not done enough when it comes to rehabilitating the project and doing away with misinformation. Just think, the read on all the human losses and indescribable pain is completely opposite depending on whether you look at it from the east or the west of the nation. We talk about 50,000 people having died over 30 years of fighting. What this really means is hundreds of thousands. During the era of the dirty war, there were 5 million people in the region serving as soldiers. Countless people were seriously traumatized and have learned by heart that the other side is the enemy. Just as the Kurds are seen as the reason for the deaths in the official version of events in the west of Turkey, Kurds in the east see the state -- and by extension its owners, the Turks -- as responsible.
To tell people who believe their children died and were martyred for the state that, actually, this was nothing more than a family squabble, a fight between siblings and that this war did not have to take place, puts the weight of accounting for these losses on the shoulders of the state. And these are accounts that cannot be closed up in any other way than trying those responsible for certain acts that have taken place during this dirty and false war, by bringing about justice and by apologizing to the citizens of the nation.
And this, in turn, is precisely how it is that we have been caught unprepared for peace. Because really, it is not that we love war or anything. I will continue with this topic.