Opinion: The Hypocrisy of Defending Turkey


Opinion piece cross-posted from MideastYouth.com, written by Behar.

The hypocrisy of the world never ceases to amaze me! In the world of politics, it’s all but expected that a nation should pursue its own interests at the cost of others, but when average and so called “informed” citizens behave in that manner, there seems to be little hope for a different and better future. For how hypocritical is it that a “Muslim” world (and I use that term loosely since nothing about the actions of these people or nations is in and of itself Islamic), would denounce the slaughter of innocent Palestinians but remain silent and many times even supportive of the slaughter of their neighbors in Kurdistan, the vast majority of which are Muslims (not that religious affiliation should be grounds for denouncing or not denouncing the killing of citizens, but if that’s the rallying cry of these supposedly Muslim countries, than they have greatly erred in allowing the injustices perpetrated against their neighbors to continue for over 70 years at the hands of the current Turkish regime.)

I suppose I could go into details about the Armenian genocide…or about Ataturk’s anti-Islamic and anti-democratic policies after the creation of the Turkish state when he banned Muslim and Turkish cultural dress and even changed the Turkish alphabet from Arabic script to Latin script in a pathetic attempt to assimilate with the Western world. He banned the notion of separate identities existing within Turkey and thus Kurds were all but a “myth” made up to incite separatism from a Turkish state that had been oh so very kind to them.

Tell me then why my language is still banned from Turkish federal buildings? Tell me why my sister whose name is Kurdistan, was banned from entering Turkey when she was 12 years old because her name was apparently a threat to the sovereignty of the Turkish state? Tell me why Leyla Zana, a Kurdish woman elected to Parliament in the late 1980s was jailed for 15 years because she dared to speak Kurdish after taking the oath of office when she said that she hoped to promote comradery between her Kurdish and Turkish brethren? Tell me why Nawroz was banned until 2000? Tell me why entire villages have been destroyed in Southeastern Turkey in the name of construction projects and dams that are built conveniently in the some of the poorest Kurdish villages-thus forcing the Kurds to migrate to the cities where they can assimilate faster by not being allowed to speak Kurdish, name their kids Kurdish names, or even teach their kids in Kurdish schools. Tell me why we as a people supposedly didn’t even exist as a legitimate minority-the largest minority in the world without a country that’s three times as large as the Palestinian population and hail from the Medes and the honorable line of Ibn Taymiyyah and Salah al Din?

Tell me, oh righteous Turkey, was it that much easier to call us Mountain Turks instead, to prevent the allocation of funds to our villages to force us to move? Was it easier to place the infamous gendarme’ (gendarmes) at the entrances of our villages in the name of providing security knowing full well that our men were being slaughtered by them and our women were being raped? Was it easier to deny our existence while simultaneously trying to wipe us out? Did it feel good when you gave poisoned bread to the Kurdish refugees fleeing from Saddam and seeking refuge on your borders? Did you enjoy swapping Kurds to the Iraqi Baathist army for money when you’d find Kurds trying to escape death on your borders? Perhaps there’s a reason why you sound so much like the murderers who supported Nazi Germany and turned in Jews to the authorities for a small sum of money. Perhaps that’s why Mein Kampf has become an international best seller in your lands since 2005.

Let me guess. The reader just isn’t buying it. How could a country that so vehemently defended the Palestinians now condemn its own Muslim population and murder them as casually as the Israeli military has been known to indiscriminately attack Palestinian civilians?

Well you sure don’t have to take my word for it. The entire article by UNCHR can be found here with regards to the poisoned bread and the selling of escaping Kurdish refugees back to Iraqi authorities.

For a more historical approach of its human rights abuses, see here.

Why is it that your constitution states over 30 times that any belief that the Turkish state should be separated into other states, such as a belief in an independent Kurdistan, will lead to the stripping of all human rights for that citizen? Why does the Turkish Constitution provide that no protection is given to “thoughts or opinions contrary to Turkish National interests, the principle of the existence of Turkey as an indivisible entity with its State and territory, Turkish historical and moral values, or the nationalism, principles, reforms and modernism of Ataturk.” Furthermore, Article 28 of the Constitution establishes that the press is not free to publish news articles that “threaten the internal or external security of the state.”

Even in the US we have due process of law, and no matter how criminal one’s actions are they are always guaranteed rights under the law and are innocent until proven guilty. Perhaps it’s a testimony to the weak nature of your very state? You’re not even sure if you’re part of the East or West—one day you’d like to be part of the EU and are passing anti democratic laws to ban minority political parties, the headscarf, and even the letters “Q” and “W” (because you know that only Kurds use those letters, and using particular letters are likely to lead to “separatist” tendencies), and the next you’re calling Israel a butcher and vehemently defending the rights of Palestinians as though you haven’t been aware of their struggle for the past 60 years? Why is Palestinian blood more valuable than Kurdish blood?

I suppose I should be asking the entire Middle East that question, and not just Turkey but hey—if twenty something Arab countries didn’t do a thing for their own brothers in Palestine and it took the lone Turkish country in the supposed Middle East to bring attention to the matter—then what possible hope could the Kurds have? No one seems to be caring about the 400,000+ citizens killed in Darfur… so why us?

People are right to say that western blood is not more valuable than Palestinian blood, even though Western actions seem to point to the contrary. But I’d take that one step further and say that no human being’s blood is more valuable than another human being’s blood. In the words of MLK, an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere, and as Edmund Burke himself once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” But how good can you be when you’re condemning one criminal act and not another?

I can understand if it’s the hypocritical state of Turkey that’s making these ridiculous claims about justice and human rights, but when citizens—especially Middle Eastern citizens—get all riled up about how heroic Turkey is and don’t even bother to recognize the suffering of their Kurdish brothers and sisters right next door…what does that say about the state of humanity? Has our humanity become so debased that we condemn certain acts of cruelty and oppression and not others? Is it not our duty as human beings to, at the very least, pay lip service to an injustice when we see it occur by condemning it with our tongues and hating it in our hearts even if we cannot physically change it with our hands, as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself once said? If he were alive…if so many other great leaders were alive like Francis of Assisi or even Saladin, I don’t think they’d stand for it one moment longer. I think they’d speak out against all injustices everywhere all the time until change finally arrived for those people.

How many genocides-yes genocides, for the US Congress and UN formally recognized at least one atrocity that occurred against the Kurds as a genocide when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against men, women and children in Halabja in 1988-must occur against the Kurds before their rights are finally recognized? In Iraqi Kurdistan, my people are finally thriving and the economy and infrastructure seem light years ahead of the rest of Iraq. In that region, my people are finally able to be free…I only pray that the world opens its eyes to the atrocities that are still going on against my people in Turkey and aren’t stupid enough to fall for Turkey’s latest political ploy, because ultimately it is just that: a ploy. It is not the first country to use the Palestinian struggle as a soapbox to stand on to make declarations about the righteous nature of its state, nor will it be the last. I simply pray that the Palestinian people, and my people, are able to realize their dreams of an independent state so that both sides can finally have the peace they’ve so desperately longed for.

Note: Opinions expressed here are the views of the author and they do not represent Alliance for Kurdish Rights as an organization.