Let me say from the start that (Kurdish politician and writer) İbrahim Güçlü, above and beyond the way many describe him as the “Kurdish Don Quixote,” is in fact my hero. I love and respect him. He reacted negatively to what I said in connection with the April 6 hearing of the trial of former President Kenan Evren and the Sept. 12  coup instigators. He said: “Mehmet Yürek, you know me well, and I know you well. You cannot vindicate a nationalist.”
While talking about my demand for involvement in the trial, I noted that both rightists and leftists have been bringing their claims forward, that their demands and wishes have been recorded in the same notes of the same court, and how important this is. I was motivated to say this to him based on an incident from court: Someone from our leftist flank had stood up in the courtroom and said: “There are promises being made to nationalist fascists here, but not to us revolutionaries. I protest.” Having said so, this person then exited the courtroom. I realized that victims from both the right and the left, who had come to reckon with the coup instigators, had stopped blaming the coup instigators and were instead starting fights with one another. This is why I made that statement.
I began my involvement in the leftist political struggles between 1966 and 1967, and these struggles have continued all the way to today in combination with various other leftist movements and the Kurdish political movement. I lived through the March 12, 1971 and the Sept. 12 coups with two firearms tucked into my waistband. When the latter coup occurred, I was a member of Turkey’s Workers and Peasants Liberation Army (TİKKO). My brother, Ali Ekber Yürek, was a teacher who was arrested in the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaraş and then tortured and murdered.
How did I change after this? Evren said at one point, “If something happens to us, we will kill them all, without differentiating between those on the right and those on the left.” This pushed me to think hard but also confused me. I realized that those who attacked us as “nationalist fascists” and those who we also attacked were nothing more than other poor workers and villagers like me. It did not take long for me to understand that they themselves were not the ones attacking but rather had been pushed to attack by deeper forces at hand. As the years passed, I began to speak with those I was able to reach. I began to understand so much and became increasingly able to make my own story clear to others.
Nowadays, I speak with every former nationalist who says, “The state tricked me and used me; I was wrong in the past and made many errors.” Some of these people are very good friends of mine. In this line, I have accepted and even discussed my own mistakes of the past. Dear Ibrahim, I have converted and inverted my former perception of “fascist nationalists” into “fascist coup instigators.”
As I see it, [former Grand Unity Party (BBP) leader] Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu is a role model when it comes to the awakening of nationalists in Turkey. He was able to own up to their pre-Sept. 12 roles, responsibilities and mistakes. Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu’s stance in opposition to the torture of revolutionaries next to the Mamak prison as well as his orders to at least 40-50 party members at Madımak in Sivas to rescue those who were burning are important and valuable.
These newer nationalists, awakened by Yazıcıoğlu, cast the same votes as I did in the Sept. 12, 2010 referendum and brought us together in the courtroom where Kenan Evren is being tried. And what, İbrahim, can be bad about this?
For me, these new nationalists, who cast the same (“yes”) vote as I did in the referendum, are more advanced and more inclined to the left than the people of the Turkish Communist Party (TKP), the Workers’ Party (İP), the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who all cast the same “no” or boycotted the vote in the referendum, than Kenan Evren was. My perception of “fascists” has shifted to mean those coup instigators behind Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer), and those who support them or who do not struggle against them.
I have opened my right ear through my right eye, which had been shut by the guardian authority. And on the right, those who were able to open their left eye and left ear were able to see me -- they were able to see us. When speaking, we put more stress on our shared beliefs rather than what separates us. And I have become more intertwined and connected with the sincere, religious and awakened nationalists with whom I have begun to speak more often. You tell me now… Do not be afraid; you will not go backward. You will only become more and more so a true revolutionary.
Talk to you soon, Dear İbrahim.
--Mehmet Yürek Çoban,
Head of the Dersim Munzurlarında Sustainable Life Foundation