Kurdish poet, writer and politician Kemal Burkay had been living in Sweden for 30 years, as he had been banned from returning to Turkey. Three months ago, though, he returned to Turkey.
These days he is busy speaking his mind and giving interviews. Burkay is very interested in seeing a solution found for the Kurdish problem, but he adopts a very different stance and rhetoric than the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-Kurdish Communities Union (KCK)-Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) profile. What follows are some extracts from an interview between journalist Murat Aksoy and Burkay that was published in last Monday’s edition of the Yeni Şafak daily.
“In the past, counter-guerillas were set into action against the rising Kurdish politics of peace. Counter-guerilla activities and the oppression of people took place in order to see the struggle, which was unfolding in a peaceful way, turn violent. The Kurdish movement, which developed during the 1960s and ‘70s in a peaceful way, turned violent in the ‘80s under the control of the PKK, and thus the movement became more and more dominated by the language and methods of violence. The PKK saw us as potential targets. They used violence against us. This was the stance in the 1980s, and today, too. The methods may have softened a bit, but the perspective is the same. The whole way of perception that says, ‘I alone represent the Kurds, everyone else is just a traitor,’ has not changed, despite our efforts to see dialogue,” Burkay explained.
“Are the Kurds ready to be rescued from the authority of the PKK? Are they ready to make such a demand and insist on it?,” Aksoy asked, and Burkay replied: “At this point, there is no mass or very effective movement on this front. Even if such a desire exists in the hearts of the masses, it has not been transferred from the heart or no actual action has taken place yet because the sound of gunfire overwhelms the voices made by books. This sound of gunfire prevents people from freely expressing their demands, their emotions and their thoughts. As I see it, fear abounds.
“Of course the fact that the [Justice and Development Party] AK Party was basically alone has played a large role in the slowdown we have seen in the whole solution and Kurdish initiative. The fact that neither the [Republican People’s Party] CHP nor the [Nationalist Movement Party] MHP offered support during the initiative period is something I can understand, politically speaking, but what really disappointed me in this process are the BDP and the PKK. They are interesting; they have not offered sufficient support to either the Ergenekon cases or the democratic initiative.
“The Ergenekon case is scaring people. Ergenekon illuminates a wide variety of relationships. No doubt there has been some fear over the emergence of the network of these relationships. Not only was the Ergenekon network organized within the state itself, but its roots stretch also into the ranks of the left, as well as the Kurdish movement. This is the only thing that could explain the opposition and nervousness we have seen in these segments of society, as the Ergenekon case comes further and further into the spotlight.”
“In the period when the PKK declared a cease-fire, the military continued its operations despite the AK Party’s steps taken as part of its Kurdish initiative. And when the military operations came to an end, the Reşadiye incident occurred, as did the Dörtyol and Kastamonu incidents [PKK attacks]. These were suspicious events that certainly did not serve the whole initiative period well at all. And then the BDP boycott of Parliament following the June 12 general elections, as well as increased PKK activity, were also very bad developments.”
“Between the years 1999 and 2004, it appeared that there was a real chance for a solution. Do you believe this opportunity was not used?” Aksoy asked Burkay, who replied, saying: “I guess they wanted armed PKK members in the mountains. They kept the PKK as backup. … My opinion is that they did this at first to use the PKK against the Southern Kurds, or against the Kurdistan Federal region in Iraq. As you know, the PKK fought against the Southern Kurds, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (KYB) many times in the past ( in 1992, 1995 and 1997). The Kurds derived absolutely no benefit from any of this, but it was particularly under the influence of Syria and Iran that the PKK was dragged into it all. To wit, at one point [acting PKK leader Murat] Karayılan himself said, ‘Turkey wants us to fight the Southern Kurds.’ And Öcalan also once said that ‘an officer who spoke with me told me that all the guerillas should head for the south, and that about 500 should stay in that region,’ noting that the officer had told him this was what was necessary. And it did turn out to be necessary. In the years between 1999 and 2004, the PKK stopped its armed attacks. But ever since the AK Party won the elections and formed a government, the situation has changed.
“During a period when a range of coup plans against the AK Party, from Ergenekon to Sarıkız to Ayışığı and so on, were plotted, the same Öcalan and PKK who had in the past said, ‘We’ve made some mistakes, but are now abandoning all our weapons,’ put armed struggle back on the table from June 1, 2004, onwards. This was the exact same period when junta calculations against the AK Party were being made. What is clear now is that the deep state had moved into action to protect the status quo, to quash the chances of the AK Party remaining in power and to prevent not only a solution to the Kurdish problem but also Turkey’s EU membership and the entire democratization process.”