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May 27, 2012, Sunday

Are the Kurds mentally divorced from Turkey?

The Uludere incident once again raises questions about the state's heavy-handed treatment of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), as critics wonder if it could lead to further similar incidents and cause the psychological separation of the Kurds from the state and from the west of Turkey.

Indeed, it is true that some Kurds are already mentally divorced from the state. They no longer consider the government their own government, military their own military or police their own police. It is also true that an incident like Uludere deepens this feeling of disengagement.

However, it is wrong to argue that the incident is in itself the reason why Kurds are increasingly disengaged from society. Rather, this is the fault of the political decision-making process. If the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had responded immediately following the incident with an apology and a promise to initiate a transparent investigation into the incident we might have seen a re-engagement of the Kurds with the system. I disagree with the majority of intellectuals destined to criticize any security policies regarding the PKK's terror campaign and putting pressure on the government to end military operations. Security policies per se are not the reason for this mental divorce. Even in the 1990s the sometimes forceful handling of Kurds by security institutions was leading to such mental disengagement.

Thus criticism of politicians in general, and following Uludere criticism of the AK Party's attitude in particular, is right. But criticizing security measures toward the PKK makes no sense at all.

If we are really going to talk about the mental disengagement of Kurdish society from Turkey as a whole we should mention the PKK's campaign to help widen this gap. We should examine PKK policies intending to spark conflict, even a civil war, between the two. We should talk about the PKK's desire to bring about popular revolution by a campaign of murder. We should talk about the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) network, which has been established to oversee this Kurdish-Turkish divorce.

Given a group would not secede from a state or sheltering society unless guided by a working political network and leading elites promoting and supporting such a move, we first need to talk about this network and these elites, if we really care about the psychological distance between Turkey and the Kurds.

By ignoring the very existence of the PKK, its strategies and networks, its aim to create discord and disengagement between the two societies, by pointing the finger at security measures employed against the PKK for such a schism, we discover the deep cynicism of some apparent liberals about this issue.

Do intellectuals not realize that the very existence of the PKK is an obstacle to unity? To be honest, some of them don't even seem to know that back in 1978 the PKK named Turkey its colonizer, occupying Kurdish territory. Some of these intellectuals may not be aware of the PKK's armed propaganda strategy, formulated and implemented to create distance between the Kurds and the rest of Turkey. Some of these intellectuals may not know that the KCK has established schools to indoctrinate Kurds with the notion that this state is not their state.

Some intellectuals are sincere in raising concerns about this mental disengagement, but they need to be reminded that this distancing is inextricably bound up with PKK strategies to forge such disengagement. They must start thinking about how to end these strategies.

Previous articles of the columnist