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November 15, 2011, Tuesday

You have to respond to Halil Berktay

I previously wrote that the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) arrests have left some liberal/democrat intellectuals and right-wing democrats like me at a crossroads. And I underlined the first disagreement: While they react to the KCK, these intellectuals remain silent with respect to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) violence and terrorism. They either ignore it, or indirectly agree to a justification by calling it a just war, or they barely refer to it by a few sentences.

The most recent example involves a terrorist who hijacked the Kartepe high-speed ferry. Somebody wearing bombs around his waist taking more than 20 civilians hostage is called a terrorist act in every part of the world. Is it possible for such an act to have anything to do with the Kurdish problem? I did not see any reaction to this action by these intellectuals. Should my colleagues who criticize everybody and issue open letters to the prime minister also not send open letters to Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies Sabahat Tuncel, Selahattin Demirtaş and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan?

Luckily, not only right-wing writers criticize these intellectuals. There are also some left-wing democrats who raise their voice, spurred by their conscience, among them Ahmet Altan and Halil Berktay.

Professor Halil Berktay is a faculty member at Sabancı University. I would like to quote from his columns in Taraf and his statements made on the Doğru Açı (Right Angle) program hosted by Belkıs Akkaya on Habertürk TV.

“Following a declaration signed by some 700 people who protested the arrest of Büşra Ersanlı, another declaration signed by 230 emerged. ‘We would like to deliver lectures at the BDP Academy of Politics to voice our opposition to the pressure on universities and politics.’

“Is it even possible to imagine that the just war of a repressed nation, the program of the KCK (to which a number of commentators draw attention because of its hegemonic, despotic characteristics), of the theoretical principles, the steps taken in recent years -- a boycott of Parliament, Çukurca and the resumption of war -- as well as the justification of these steps were not underlined at this academy?

“Is it possible that something we participated in, something we are involved in, as well as its dimensions that do not touch us would not make us responsible? ‘I did not see, I did not hear, I did not know. It’s none of my business. Is it possible for a leftist intellectual to say this? Quite rightly, we get upset with the attitude of civil servants or officials suggesting that ‘I turn a blind eye and do my job.’ But what about our political-ethical understanding?

“For instance, can you tell the students at the BDP academy that it is wrong to worship a person symbolized by Öcalan? Could you sincerely say that failure to attend sessions in Parliament, as well as boycotting a constitutional referendum, is a disaster and that it accompanies the strategy of the resumption of war, that it is not possible to reconcile the KCK’s claim of a monopoly over the fate of the Kurdish people with democracy in the BDP school? Will they allow you to say this? Or, and we all know that they will not let you do this, are you eager to deliver a lecture at the BDP academy because we are not so opposed to violence and because we still have an affinity to some forms of violence to remain dissidents of the state or to promote a violent revolution?

“In sum, I cannot agree to become an intellectual companion of a second-stage party that engages in politics under the auspices of an armed organization and its guardianship and protection.

“Some intellectuals fail to show the interest they had in the KCK operations when it comes to the four young girls killed in Siirt and civilians killed by a suicide bomber in Bingöl. They say no to the state, but cannot do the same to the PKK, the KCK and the BDP. The people who signed the petition in protest of the arrest of Büşra Ersanlı and Ragıp Zarakolu remain tacit and silent when it comes to the women and children murdered in the suicide attack. They cannot adopt a firm stance. They only say no to the state.”

Yes, we have to respond to Berktay.

Previous articles of the columnist