KERİM BALCI

Nevruz celebrations and playing to deadlocks

It is clear by now that ethnic Kurdish politics in Turkey have but one character: »»

It is clear by now that ethnic Kurdish politics in Turkey have but one character: inducing deadlock. They play to deadlocks and force all initiatives into dead ends.

The latest instance is Nevruz celebrations that took place in Diyarbakır and İstanbul. The political party that allegedly represents Kurdish interests in Parliament (the Peace and Democracy Party [BDP]) changed its decision, allegedly on orders from the Kandil Mountains, to celebrate the spring feast so dear to Kurds, Armenians, Persians and Central Asian Turks over the weekend instead of on the spring equinox, i.e., March 21. Kandil, Turkish intelligence sources claimed, wanted to turn the Nevruz celebrations into a nationalist show of power against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and its policies. The police managed to seize enormous amounts of ammunition smuggled into the country before Nevruz. Had they been used during the celebrations that took place in the two Turkish cities with a large Kurdish population, Diyarbakır and İstanbul, the country might have found itself in a state of civil war.

Kurdish youngsters who plundered bank branches, small shops, buses and trams in İstanbul and cell towers in Diyarbakır believed, according to their own claims, that they were denied the natural right of celebrating a cultural event and were protesting in return. The security forces claim that those who created the problems were in fact there to create problems and that the security forces intervened only after the protesters destroyed public and private property. The prosecutors have already started an investigation and will determine the identities of those who incited the youngsters to attack public transport vehicles. We will see the results of the investigation in due time.

What is critical to observe at this stage is the active involvement of the BDP deputies in leading their grass roots to join celebrations in an unapproved place and at an unapproved time. The İstanbul Governor’s Office and the Diyarbakır Governor’s Office made clear that March 18, which coincides with the anniversary of the Dardanelles campaign, would not be a good time for the celebrations and that they would not be permitted. In İstanbul the police were well prepared to disperse the crowds that came to Kazlıçeşme Square, and yet they were not well prepared to contain the dispersed youngsters in the side streets. In Diyarbakır, on the other hand, the determination of the Kurdish crowds overwhelmed security forces, and the celebrations took place at Nevruz Square as the BDP wanted. In both cases the cities suffered, peace suffered and the hope of the general public, be they Turks or Kurds, for a stable and peaceful coexistence suffered.

The question is whether this was what the BDP wanted or not.

They say no, but do they have an independent will of their own? I say no! And if their will is in the pocket of their agha in the Kandil Mountains, then yes, this was exactly what Kandil wanted. This is in fact a traditional socialist guerilla strategy: If you realize that the ethnic group that you base your cause on is not giving you enough support, you hit the other ethnic group strongly enough to create a reactionary response in that group to your own ethnic group. Then you wait for the “enemy” to make the mistake of hitting your ethnic group harder. In the end, they will come to you and ascend your mountains.

This is a clever strategy on the part of Kandil… The critical question now is whether the Turks and the government will be able to behave even more cleverly and not walk into this trap.

2012-03-21

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Columnist:: KERİM BALCI