Posted by: hevallo | August 21, 2009

Gerger, Beşikçi and Başkaya on Turkish ‘initiative’ on Kurdish Question.


A number of intellectuals imprisoned during the years when even speaking about the Kurdish issue was taboo don’t hold out much hope for the government’s recently announced initiative to find a lasting solution to the problem.

Haluk Gerger says the government’s sincerity in its initiative will be measured not by the importance they attach to the views of “external forces” but to the requests of the main parties to the issue. Fikret Başkaya comments that a solution to the Kurdish problem needs to be discussed not just among Turks but among Kurds as well, while İsmail Beşikçi argues that before anything else, the judiciary and university system in Turkey need to undergo some serious self-criticism.

Gerger was fired from his faculty post at the Ankara University faculty of political science by the Higher Education Board (YÖK). One of the founding members of the Human Rights Association (İHD), Gerger got in trouble for voicing his views on the Kurdish issue, was prosecuted under the Counterterrorism Law and incarcerated from 1994-95 and 1998-99 at Haymana Prison. In evaluating the government initiative, recently announced by Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, Gerger said Turkey needs to recognize the existence of the Kurdish people. He said refusal to recognize Kurds as a people was a stubborn struggle with reality. “Turkey has [so struggled] from every way you look at it, and it’s paid a heavy price; Kurds have been made to pay heavily as well, but Turkey has suffered also,” he said, asserting that Turkey’s efforts to overcome its own congestive problems have been thwarted because it hasn’t addressed the main problem, the Kurdish issue. The Kurdish issue has clogged up Turkey’s economy, politics, social life, military and international relations, he said.

“Turkey is creating maneuvers to fight against this congestion caused by its denial of Kurds. To tell the truth, I’m opposed to this. There’s also a request for a solution and for reform coming from external forces. [US President Barack] Obama came to Turkey and said this quite clearly in Parliament, also demonstrating it physically by meeting with Ahmet Türk,” he said.

Başkaya, known for views that contradict the official ideology, spent 20 months in jail under the Counterterrorism Law. He served his time along with Gerger at Haymana Prison. Başkaya reacted to the government initiative by saying it was positive that the problem was beginning to be discussed, but that the manner in which the topic is being approached is incorrect. The state needs to accept that it has been in the wrong, he said. “Firstly, those wielding power in Turkey, the authorities, need to appear on television and say: ‘For 80 years we were doing wrong, and continued to do so insistently. Now we are turning back from this error.’ In this way a stance needs to be put out there. That’s not what [the government] is doing right now,” he said.

Başkaya also stated that Interior Minister Atalay had consulted with the “Turkish side,” saying: “Why are you talking to the Turkish side? Isn’t it clear what they have to say? What’s the point in going and asking columnists whose essays are read every day, or going and speaking with the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association [TÜSİAD]?” Kurds need to be consulted with directly, and the representatives of the many Kurdish interest associations must be spoken with, he said. Başkaya also said the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) should be included in the government’s discussions on plans for a solution.

Beşikçi, incarcerated for years for his views, is also no stranger to the Kurdish problem. Known for his research on the Kurdish problem, Beşikçi was imprisoned eight times, for a total of 17 years. Thirty-two of the 36 books he has published have been banned at one point or another in Turkey. He evaluated the government’s latest initiative in an article written for Web site Kurdistan-post.com. Beşikçi noted that the interior minister had met with representatives of various political parties and NGOs along with journalists and academics, but added: “The most important and striking characteristic of what’s going on is that the state and the government are not engaging in any self-criticism; they’re not facing up to the past. I believe that the state and government have intended it this way; they’re just planning to institute some small changes without facing the past.”

Nevertheless, Beşikçi called the attitudes of President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with regard to the issue positive. “It can be said that the president, prime minister and interior minister do not resemble their predecessors,” he said. “Every type of law and regulation has been passed to ensure the destruction of the Kurdish language and culture. In the announcements made regarding the Kurdish initiative, these topics aren’t addressed at all. But the speakers still have the gall to tell the Kurds, do this and don’t do that.” Source:Zaman.

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