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November 06, 2012, Tuesday

Populist discourse

A hunger strike that has now expanded enters its 57th day with thousands of prisoners, most of whom are jailed for terrorist activities, refusing food in dozens of prisons across Turkey.

 The strikers’ goals are to be allowed to receive education in Kurdish and use Kurdish in courtrooms and an end to the isolation of terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) chief Abdullah Öcalan.

Star’s Sedat Laçiner lashes out against “humanistic calls” that tell us not to remain insensitive to deaths and not to forget our humanity. “One would think the hunger strikers are not terrorists and instead are the most innocent people in the world. Those strikers, who previously opened fire on people without caring whether there were children or women present and blew up buses full of civilians, are currently seen as ‘making a great sacrifice for the Kurdish community’,” he says.

As for the demands, Laçiner argues that the PKK wants to exploit the strikers. The PKK only has one dream, and that is to establish a separate state which it can rule and that this end justifies the means. If the state permits testimony and education in Kurdish, new demands certainly will come from the PKK. Also, the PKK does not care whether Öcalan is alive or free. He only serves as a tool to be exploited by the terrorist organization. If Öcalan is transferred to house arrest, then the PKK will organize another hunger strike demanding his release and then another one to get him to enter politics again. This way, the terrorist organization will keep the Kurdish national spirit among Kurdish people alive, and it will reach its goal step by step, he thinks.

Kurtuluş Tayiz from Taraf, on the other hand, focuses on the political showdown between the government and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which is practically representing the hunger strikers, on the issue. He asserts that if the prime minister had not said, “There is no hunger strike; it is just a show,” and the BDP chairman should not have provoked the prime minister by saying, “The aim is not to end Öcalan’s isolation; it is to free him.” The reason behind the failure to solve the hunger strike incident is the politicians’ attitudes, which are far from seeking reconciliation and a solution. Unless the government avoids populist moves and its provocative attitude and the BDP abandons its pro-populist policy for Öcalan, it might be too late, Tayiz fears.

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