Posted by: hevallo | June 12, 2008

Dr Ismail Besikci. Clarity on The Kurdish Question! Part 1.

Hevallo reprints below excerpts from a letter from Dr Ismail Besikci to Prof Andreas Buro, written whilst in prison for his writings on The Kurdish Question.

Dr Besikci, a Turkish sociologist was the first Turkish intellectual to challenge the denial policies of the Turkish state.

Since the first publication of Dr Besikci’s The Social Changes of the Kurdish Nomadic Tribes in East Anatolia (1967) he has been relentlessly and continuously persecuted by the Turkish authorities.

He was prevented from carrying out his research and eventually his work was prohibited. He was struck off the register of teachers and sacked from his work as assistant professor of sociology. His articles and books were censored, banned and confiscated. Since 1991 over 100 charges were brought against him.

Dr Ismail Besikci has devoted his life- much of it spent in jail- to the advocacy of the inalienable right of self-determination of the Kurdish nation.

“Dear Prof Dr Andreas Buro,

I have received your letter and would like to thank you for your interest. I would like to take the opportunity to communicate to you some of my thoughts on the people’s right, especially the Kurdish people’s right to peace.

In Turkey as well as in the West, two basic misunderstandings keep emerging in the discussion of The Kurdish Question, the clarification of which I consider necessary.

The first misunderstanding is related to the way in which the Kurdish question is perceived.

It concerns the concrete factors on which the Kurdish question is based. What is the essentail core?

Why do Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, that is to say Turks, Persians and Arabs, each own a part of Kurdistan, whereas the Kurds do not?

Are there other peoples in the world today who are in a similar situation as the Kurds in Kurdistan?

In my opinion these questions are simply not asked in Turkey. Just as they are not asked in the West.

Here, whole numbers of facile solutions to the problem can be easily proposed.

But as the basic problem remains totally in the dark, the proposed solutions can only be metaphysical. We are confronted with proposals of this kind, for example, in the resolutions of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the OSCE.

These resolutions mainly express an approach which implies opposition to an independent Kurdish state in the Middle East, followed by some cosmetic concessions of a cultural character to the Kurds- within the borders of the states where they live.

In reality the Kurdish ‘problem’ is treated as taboo in Turkey.

To solve it, it would be necessary firstly to investigate its essential characteristics and historical development, before starting to propose solutions. For example: Why do the Kurds actually live within the borders of these states, what actually happened during the period in question?

These questions are constantly disregarded.

The most obvious feature of the Kurdish question is that the Kurdish nation is divided and that the Kurdish people is forbidden to establish an independent state. This deliberate and orchestrated deprivation was carried out in the most barbaric manner between 1915 and 1925.

The question to be answered are; what were the reasons for the carve up of Kurdistan and the Kurdish nation, how was this plan devised and perfected, what alliances were formed at the beginning and during the maturing of this plan, how was it realised and finally, what results were brought about by its realisation. This means a critical reappraisal of the political concepts and historical feuds of that particular epoch.

In the history of the Middle East, ie; in the historical development of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, great care was taken to obscure their real attitudes to the Kurds. A people which has fallen victim to a policy of “divide and conquer”, becomes weakened and falls prey to worse disasters.

Under these circumstances, the anthropological and ethnological factors which favoured the split and division of Kurdistan and the Kurdish nation, have to be examined as well. Although it is one of the central events, or even the central event, of the transition period from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic, Turks, Arabs and Persians have expended not a little energy in confounding the concrete circumstances of this process.

It is well known that in the middle of the 17th Century, Kurdistan was divided between the Ottoman and the Safawid Empires, and that an important part of Kurdistan under Persian control was ceded to Russia during the first quarter of the 19th century.

We know unquestionably how Kurdistan was split up and divided for the second time, and how the aims of the imperialist states such as Britain and France were to apportion parts of Kurdistan to the Kemalists on one side, and the Arab and Persian monarchies on the other. Underlying imperialist greed was the knowledge of the vast oil reserves within Kurdistan.

In this context, Kurdistan should not be confused with the classical colonies. Kurdistan is not a colony. Colonies have a certain status- colonial status. Speaking of the former British colony of India; the former Portuguese colony of Angola or former French colony of Algeria, means speaking of a country and a people living in that country. This implies a certain recognised status of such a country or people, however lowly it may be.

The Kurds and Kurdistan, however, do not have any status. The Kurds were split up and divided in order to erase them from the face of the earth and from the pages of history.

It is striking that there is no parallel on earth to the plight of the Kurds and Kurdistan, whose identity is denied and whose territorial borders are not drawn on any map. Therefore it makes sense to introduce the term “sub colony”for Kurdistan. Kurdistan is a colony of several states, and this aspect gives a very different connotation to such relationships.

It is ironic that the Kurds and Kurdistan were split up and divided just at the time when the right of nations to self determination was evoked with some enthusiasm, by the Bolsheviks as well as President Woodrow Wilson.

The classical policy of ‘divide and rule’ shows itself in Kurdistan as ‘divide, rule and annihilate’!

Part 2 to follow.


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