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April 1, 2011

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Why Should the Kurds Support the BDP Political Party and What Is the Role of a Political Party? 

Kurdishaspect.com - By Dr. Aland Mizell

In Kevin McKiernan’s documentary “Good Kurds, Bad Kurds” he portrays the former as those victimized Kurds fighting in northern Iraq against Saddam Hussein, while characterizing the “the bad Kurds” as the armed insurrectionists in  Turkey, formerly an ally of the US.  This complicated history of Kurds in Turkey  is referred to as “the Kurdish question.” All Turkey’s political parties are  forced to address the Kurdish question with different angles again and again,  but they never seriously put their promises into action. When the Justice and  Development Party (AKP) talks about the Kurdish issue, the first thing they talk  about is the PKK, and by that reference, the Kurds are labeled as terrorists and  accused of inciting all the violence. I condemn all kinds of violence and  injustice, including the PKK organization. But what about the State in which the  Kurds live, pay taxes, and serve in the army? Has it taken any steps to give  Kurds their basic rights? For example, although in a recent excavation of mass  graves in the Mutki district of Bitlis province the authorities have discovered  human bones, the Turkish government refuses to continue the project of  unearthing the other 487 mass graves. These kinds of crimes were committed  against the Kurds in 1990, but in spite of the confession of some of the officers, such as Arif Dogan, and some translators, such as Yildirim Begler, the Turkish government remains silent about the massacre. The AKP is silent about it. Gulenists are silent about it. The Gulenist media are silent about the tragedy, but in the meantime, the police will raid a journalist’s office to confiscate the scripts of an unpublished book, because the book criticizes the Gulenists and the AKP party.  Why did the Justice Department go after Hanefi Avci, the author of “Haliç’te Ya?ayan Simonlar: Dün Devlet Bugün Cemaat” (‘Devotee’ Residents of Haliç: Yesterday State, Today Religious Congregation)and put him in jail because he revealed the dirty laundry of the Gulenists in his book? In it he explains the tactics they used to gain control of Turkey. More recently, the Justice Department sought out generals who supposedly planned to bring the AKP and Gulenists down. For an alleged secret move, code-named “Sledge Hammer,” the government charged the military with developing a plan to overthrow the current ruling party and also put the indicted generals behind bars, not because some of them committed a crime against the Kurds but because those generals kicked out many Gulenist followers from the military and because those generals rightly go against the Gulenist movement. However, when it comes to the Kurdish issue, the Turkish government will remain silent about Turkish crimes against the Kurds. 

The AKP and Gulenists are dancing with the Kurds. They just want to solve the  Kurdish issue in their way but not in the Kurdish way, not granting what the  Kurds want, but only advocating what they want for the Kurds.  Since they are  the self-appointed chosen people, everything they say must be good for  everybody. If they really are pro-tolerance and advocate justice and peace, they  will solve the Kurdish issue via peace and tolerance. They will listen to the  Kurds as the Kurds voice their goals and ambitions. Is it really hard to say, “I  am Kurdish,” and does the Turkish government respect this? Are Turks and Kurds equal citizens of Turkey? Is it hard for the Turkish government to offer the  Kurdish language alongside of the Turkish language especially where the majority of the Kurds are living? Still some segments of society believe the old moldy story asserting that if Kurds insist they are Kurds and do not somehow accept that they are Turks, then Turkey will be divided. How proud Gulenists are to promote Turkishness around the world, teaching other nationalities the Turkish  language and culture.  When Prime Minister Erdogan, President Gul, and Turkish  Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visit the Gulenists schools overseas, they  become so emotional and proud to see foreign students speaking the Turkish  language. Why can Kurds in Erbil or Sulaimaniya not open a branch of a Kurdish  University in Diyarbakir or in other Kurdish cities? Is it because Iraqi  Kurdistan is more advanced in terms of social and political freedom than Turkey? Could the Turkish leadership have the same feelings and be proud about a Kurdish success in education? Why do they have such a Kurdish phobia? That is why the political party is the most advantageous structure in the nation when it comes to defending the rights of its citizens. If today Gulenists are having success in the USA and around the world, it is because Gulenists use the government  platform, political and social institutions, in addition to the Turkish government as it embraces the Gulenist schools and movement. 

The role of a political party is defined as an organized group of people with at  least the same political goals and opinions, one that seeks to influence public  policy by getting its candidates elected to public office. Like any other party,  the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has the role of representing the interests  of its constituents, the Kurdish people. Because political parties perform key  tasks in a democratic society, they are often described as institutionalized  mediators between constituencies and policy makers. Therefore, in order to be  fairly represented in Parliament, the party members and supporters should make  their demands heard. For a party to represent its constituencies, it needs to  function properly, and its citizens’ rights and obligations must be guaranteed  by the Constitution. If a political party does not address the problems of its  members and supporters, then what is the purpose of the party? Isn’t that the  role of the political party, to activate and mobilize the supporters to participate in political decisions and to listen to them in order to transform their demands into policy options? None of political parties are perfect, including the BDP party, but despite all of the pressures, humiliation, and harassment from the ruling government, the BDP still manages to be the voice of the Kurds, so the Kurds should support it. Granted, the BDP party has shortcomings, but other parties do as well. Changes happen incrementally because sudden change might not be healthy; therefore, the party needs to make changes slowly. 

It is time for Kurds to be united, not divided. They must gain strength in  political will if not in power and resources. The AKP party and the Gulenists do  not like the BDP party because the BDP tells stories of torture chambers,  extrajudicial killings, and destruction of villages-- tools that the Turkish forces used during their campaign against the PKK. A perusal of the AKP and the  Gulenist movement will reveal who has connections and who is rich enough to get contracts and high positions? For example, many readers know that the  Çal?kGroup, one of the largest media companies in Turkey, bought the Sabah  newspaper and ATV. A casual glance on the internet will yield results that will  not surprise users in that the powerful have a definite advantage and thus can  shape the information. Yet, a unified coalition can gain momentum as world news  now shows. 

Where is freedom of thought for the Kurds in Turkey? What have Gulenists done  for the Kurds? Did anyone ever hear Mr. Gulen make one statement on behalf of  the Kurds when Jandarma Istihbarat ve Terörle Mücadele (JITEM), or the deep  state, was burning the Kurdish villages? What are the Gulenists doing to educate  the poor Kurdish people? They are only injecting Gulen’s version of Turkism and  Islamism into the followers. Soon there will be an election in Turkey. There is  one state party, the AKP, which takes advantage of all the benefits of the  Turkish government. The other one is the Kurdish party, which has 19 deputies  facing severalyears in jail; the BDP members havebeen humiliated, and the  deputies have been harassed, such as the Co-Chair, who has been handed jail  sentence. What should the Kurdish preference be? The Kurds should rally  together: Kurdish intellectuals, religion groups, singers, educators, actors,  and party groups should unite to support the BDP as they demand their rights in  democratic ways; otherwise, the same regime will continue to perpetuate the  injustice against the Kurds. For example, on the Turkish Grand Assembly’s list,  there are four groups. Of them 3 groups can get help from the Turkish treasury,  but the Kurdish group cannot; instead it has been closed down and its members  put in jail.  Is this justice? Even many Kurds may not like the BDP, and it is  true that there may be some corruption, but at least they stand against the  Turkish injustices and its propaganda.  Kurds should not fall into the traps of  tribes, language, and religion sects because that is what the Turkish  institutions have been using to design their policy for decades as they see the  deep divisions among the Kurds. 

Which party is perfect? Perhaps none, but let’s not forget that the BDP has paid  a price for the Kurdish struggle. Some Kurds have shown courage to speak Kurdish in the Turkish Grand Assembly, even with the consequence of spending years in prison. On my visit to Diyarbakir, I had a meeting with one of the Kurdish  officials who told me that you cannot be a Kurd if you have not been on trial  more than 30 times. Kurdishness comes with a price. 

The Turkish Islamist regime is trying to discredit the BDP, and they will  continue to use all kinds of games to rule the Kurds. The problem is that the  Kurds never learn their lesson. This time I hope they will not fall into the  same trap of disunity. I hope that Kurdish politicians will not forget how far  they have come and how they came to this point, or how Turkey made a coalition  with their former enemy because of the Kurds.  The Kurds should at least be  united among themselves because of what the Turks, Iranians, and Syrians  continue to do to them. The question is what is it that hinders people from  understanding the Kurdish problems when the facts are very clear? Who would  imagine that a Kurdish representative from Iraq Kurdistan could share the podium  with a representative from Turkey?  Who would imagine the Kurdish party leader  from Iraq would undertake a state visit to Turkey? Who would Imagine Turkish  representative visit Iraqi Kurdistan? Who would imagine that a military general  would participate in the Kurdish holiday of Newroz? It is dangerous to be right  when the government is wrong. The Turkish government does not like the BDP  because the BDP strongly protests against the government’s decades-long policy of cultural assimilation of Kurds and the denial of Kurdish existence, as well  as the forceful purification of the Kurds or the Mountain Turks. I strongly  believe in the power of the pen and the notion of ballots not bullets. I condemn  all kinds of violence, but I do believe it is time for the Kurds to organize and  unite under one party in order to demand their rights via democratic means, not  by violence. 

If the Turkish state ignores the cry of the Kurds, who else will listen to  Kurdish calls? The Kurds never asked for a separate country; they just asked to  live with basic rights and dignity like everybody else. Previous regimes did not  listen to the Kurds and now the Islamic regime has come to power in the same  spirit but with a different mask. According to Prime Minster Erdogan and  Gulenists, Turks never committed injustice and crimes.  Yet reality shows  Kurdish imprisonment, forced assimilation, and a legacy of nearly a century of  denial of Kurdish existence by the Turkish government  Gulenists and the AKP, who consider Kurds to be “Turks,” have a hard time accepting the reality of the Kurds and other minorities who have lived under the regime. Actually, I do not think any minority has a problem with the Turks, but instead the minorities are mostly tolerant towards the Turks, yet these minorities have a problem with biased Turkish policies.Kurds should be united and support the BDP party because its Kurdish struggle has grown out of difficulties of early life and out of the striving for a goal of justice and basic rights. History will show that Bad Kurds are really Good Kurds, especially after they unite against all oppressors. 

Other articles by Dr Aland Mizell  

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