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November 02, 2012, Friday

Avoiding the same mistake

Hundreds of Kurdish inmates across Turkey launched a collective hunger strike more than 50 days ago to demand an end to the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and the right to receive education in Kurdish, causing many columnists to criticize the PKK for making the inmates go on a hunger strike for political purposes.

Yeni Şafak’s Hilal Kaplan says we should acknowledge the fact that we should stop calling on the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to join in the hunger strike because such calls are in vain. Kaplan explains that the reason for this is because there is a division of labor among Kurdish protesters; while the Kurdish inmates are on a hunger strike in the jails, BDP members are trying to galvanize the streets to rally support for the hunger strikers.

That said, Kaplan thinks the most crucial question to ask is “Why now?” First, it is because the PKK’s attacks in the past year received far less civilian support than anticipated. And realizing that it did not receive civilian support for its attacks, the PKK now aims to mobilize locals with acts of civil disobedience such as the hunger strike. And the second reason behind the timing is that the demands of the strikers are the very same plans which the government has already been working on. But once these plans are carried out, the government will get all the credit. Thus, what the PKK really wants is to create the impression that “the PKK was responsible for making the government meet Kurds’ demands.”

Star’s Fehmi Koru, meanwhile, recalls what happened in 2000, when security forces tried to suppress a spate of prison riots with an operation called “Back to Life,” which ended up killing 12 inmates and seriously injuring 29 others at a prison in İstanbul. “There is a Turkish saying which goes, ‘Human memory is granted with the blessing of forgetting.’ Forgetting tragic incidents often does us good but sometimes it causes further trouble. The terrorist organization most probably wants to make the government repeat the same mistakes and make it react in the same way that it did in 2000 with Operation Back to Life. But if we draw the necessary lessons from our past, we might prevent history from repeating itself,” Koru says.

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