What should good people do?

Is the remark by Bülent Arınç true? Will Turkey make great progress once »»

Is the remark by Bülent Arınç true? Will Turkey make great progress once the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) issue is resolved?

True, we will no longer see our young people die in a meaningless war and conflict; it is also true that we will get rid of our greatest problem. But will the issue be resolved once arms are laid down; and will peace be achieved immediately?

I hope this will be the case. But I think this is not going to happen. It is likely that older problems will be revived. Maybe “the most authentic PKK” will emerge out of the PKK, as has been the case with the IRA. Like the aftershocks of a huge earthquake, we will be having problems proportionate to the disruption and destruction caused by a three-decades-old problem.

Why am I saying this at a time when there are still conflicts going on and eight soldiers were martyred only a week ago? I am saying this because there are certain issues that we need to be aware of and understand during this process. These issues need to be explored so that past mistakes in the achievement of peace will not be repeated.

Above all, there is this perception: Peace is attainable by reconciliation between good people. In other words, good people should be identified so that these people can make peace. But there is one aspect of this expectation associated with good people and good times that deceives us.

In South Africa, it was a racist, Frederik Willem De Klerk, who was identified as a bad person. But De Klerk, who dedicated his life to racism and to ensuring that black people lived in misery, made peace with Nelson Mandela. How did that become possible? This is where good people could play a role. Good people contribute to the peace process by forcing the bad people to make peace. In this setting, political parties, civil society organizations, boards of wise men, as recommended by the Republican People’s Party (CHP), are obligated to create pressure that would eliminate the reasons for bad people to kill and for the PKK to carry out the war. This should happen so that the PKK will no longer be able to explain why it is fighting; the PKK will no longer be able to attract further participation and recruits and to preserve its influence over the people.

Therefore, this most recent Dağlıca attack and the grief associated with the killing of eight soldiers should serve the cause of peace, not war. Only this way will we assure ourselves that these young people did not die for nothing, and we can hope to avoid further killings. Why is the PKK killing people? It is doing this because this is what it is able to do best. We are talking about a terrorist organization, not a civil society organization. It supposes that it becomes stronger at the negotiation table by killing. It fails to realize that the country, the region and the world have changed.

Therefore, the influence of the PKK should be addressed and tension should be alleviated in the country. How will this happen? The state should not show weakness vis-à-vis the PKK, but it will not be eager for a war. The government cannot achieve results by the installation of unguarded outposts and the reluctance to take proper measures. In addition to strong military resistance to the PKK, the channels of negotiation should be kept open. The people should be told that Kurdish citizens are not considered supporters of the PKK. The state should not repeat the mistakes of the Uludere disaster, in which it adopted a cold and exclusionary approach. It needs to apologize. Similar to the introduction of elective Kurdish language courses in schools, other legitimate demands of the Kurdish people should be honored. The Kurdish people should emotionally disconnect with the PKK.

In short, this is what I am trying to explain: This is a complicated issue that has become an international problem. The IRA issue has remained complex and unresolved 10 years after a deal was made. Let us not misperceive that the aftershocks are part of the warfare itself; we should not lose faith in peace. There is no way other than making the bad believe that they have no option other than turning towards the good. This depends on how much we want peace and how well we understand the problem.

To this end, despite ups and downs in the process of negotiations with the Kurds since 2009, the Silvan attack and its destructive impact, I do not think that these years have been wasted. We have been caught unprepared by the fresh approach of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in this three-decades-long conflict. Thousands of people have died; however, because the media and the old state were not vocal about the problem, we did not really know what happened and what the issue was about. In fact, Turkey realized the gravity of the PKK issue and the problems of the Kurdish people by this recent negotiation process. Understanding a problem is the precondition to resolving it and to being prepared to make peace.