Turkey: Attacks on Kurdish Movement


Once again Turkish state is stepping up repression of Kurdish movement and Kurdish people. As usually it is accompanied by chauvinist frenzy stepped up after Cukurca raid by Kurdish guerrillas. As military operations go on in Kurdish provinces, especially in the border areas, there are many attacks by fascist gangs in the company of the police across the country against the Kurdish party BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) premises and Kurds. Ocalan has not been allowed to see his lawyers for more than 3 months. And media employ a strongly anti-Kurd language which is similar to 1990s.

Another facet of attacks against Kurdish movement is the crackdown on Kurdish politicians and activists carried out under the name of KCK operations. KCK stands for Koma Civaken Kurdistan (Union of Communities in Kurdistan) which is one of the new organisations of Kurdish movement. It actually represents the efforts of reorganising the Kurdish masses basically in popular assemblies. The police operations on KCK started in 14 April 2009 and the number of those who are taken into custody and arrested since then is counted by thousands. The aim of these operations is clearly to do away with key cadres of the Kurdish movement.

It would be useful to remember briefly the key events of the course of the Kurdish question in last two years. A relatively positive atmosphere was created by the government initiative so called “Kurdish opening” in 2009. But after million-strong huge demonstrations in the border gate to welcome a group of families and guerrillas arriving from Qandil and Maxmur in Northern Iraq the initiative was halted as a result of growing fear on the part of the ruling circles. And the Kurdish party (then it was DTP) was closed. The newly established Kurdish party in its place had the name BDP and it opened its eyes with police custodies and arrests in the name of suppressing KCK, which revealed the intolerance of the rulers. CHP (the Kemalist party) and MHP (fascist party) stepped up their propaganda blaming AKP for betrayal as AKP intensified nationalist rhetoric and pointed its finger towards BDP as target.

What AKP tried to do in the name of solving the Kurdish question was to liquidate the organised Kurdish movement and concede certain individual rights instead of satisfying the democratic demands of the Kurdish people. This approach was symbolized in Erdogan’s words: “there is no Kurdish question but certain problems of my Kurdish brothers”.

However despite all efforts of AKP the Kurdish movement was firm enough to resist all these attacks. Actually it gained more strength, which eventually made AKP abandon the policy of “opening”. One moral element was the recent developments in Syria where there is also a Kurdish question, posing serious risks for the Turkish bourgeoisie as well. There is the possibility that as a result of these developments in Syria there can be a similar process to what is experienced in Iraqi Kurdistan, that is, a near independent Kurdish political statelet. After these developments came election success of the Kurdish movement. Making an election bloc with many Turkish socialist groups they won 36 seats in parliament, almost doubling its previous number of seats, despite numerous election barriers to run as independent candidates. They also formed Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and declared that they would de facto establish their “democratic autonomy”.

Now Kurdish land is being bombed by Turkish army both inside and outside of the border. Their excuse was the recently increased armed actions of PKK. In fact these increased attacks were preceded by military operations that had been ongoing for months killing tens of guerrillas as PKK had been in a ceasefire position. This background was deliberately hidden by the bourgeois media which sought to spread the conviction that as if the government had wanted peace but the Kurdish movement sabotaged all attempts at peace. Although BDP is a legal party the prime minister Erdogan threatened BDP in a speech in Ramadan indicating that a wave of arrests aimed at BDP is ahead. And the bourgeois media immediately started to talk about a list of 1400 persons. And this came true as hundreds of Kurdish politicians, intellectuals were arrested with violent raids at dawn across the country.

According to BDP, between 2009 and the early days of October 7748 persons were taken into custody and 3895 were arrested. Within last 6 months 4148 have been taken into custody and 1548 arrested. Among them are mayors, deputy mayors, members of provincial councils etc. and as these operations is ongoing the numbers are growing on a daily basis.

One of the endeavours of the Turkish ruling class is to forge another Kurdish political party in opposition to PKK line. As part of these futile attempts they try to divide the Kurdish movement and marginalise it, using religion as a tool. Erdogan says: “I appeal to my Kurdish brothers as my Muslim brothers: how is it possible that you support this bloody organisation which bombs your shrines? You are obliged to stand up and develop a resistance against them. This is not only our task. We have to do that state and nation together, and we will do it. We will do it together and condemn them to isolation.” These words obviously testify to the depth of desperation of the government. There is both intimidation and confession. In an effort to threaten Kurdish people Erdogan unintentionally confesses the fact that Kurdish people supports Kurdish national movement.

A new case to close BDP is also expected to be launched by the public prosecutor who seems to have preparations with the claim that “there is an actual link between BDP and KCK structure”. With the KCK operations BDP is already under heavy government pressure. But it seems that the government is not content with that. They seek to drive the Kurdish movement totally into a corner and make them kneel down. Under these conditions a constitutional case to close BDP seems quite possible.

But it has to be underlined that so far 6 Kurdish parties have been closed as a result of such constitutional cases and all have proved useless. Last time when the previous party (DTP) was closed there were 21 MPs in parliament and now with BDP the number is 36, despite all repression during the election process!

The new wave of repression against Kurdish movement also exposed the attitude of liberals. With the change of political atmosphere many of them changed tune and start attacking the Kurdish movement while at the same time half-heartedly criticising the government. They fail to make a distinction between the oppressor and the oppressed. They say that KCK suppresses the Kurdish people and the BDP. Thus some of them even go to the length of saying that the KCK operations was “serving to free” the Kurdish people.

What is most disturbing for the advocates of the existing order is the fact that the Kurdish people stand up as an organised political force, not content with just advancing demands. KCK is one of the forms of organisation which makes the rulers very unhappy. They cannot tolerate an alternative organised political authority in Kurdish provinces. They want the Kurdish people sit quiet and be content with granted crumbs. They also want BDP not stand up against AKP and distance itself from PKK.

The oppressed Kurdish people are waging a just struggle against repression, attacks, anti-democratic practices and for their national democratic demands. And all kinds of rulers attack the Kurdish people with all their might. What the working class has to do is to make a distinction between the oppressed and oppressor, just and unjust; resist the chauvinist wave and support the just struggle of the Kurdish people. Turkish working class should not forget: a nation that oppresses another cannot be free!