Can Europe Make It?

Regimes of evil: colonization continues

It is not even a secret. Turkish state authorities are doing this very openly, in front of the rest of the world. How can this happen?

Latif Tas
24 October 2019
Turkish-backed Syrian National Army takes part in Turkish-led assault on north-eastern Syria, October 11, 2019.
Turkish-backed Syrian National Army takes part in Turkish-led assault on north-eastern Syria, October 11, 2019.
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Anas Alkharboutli/PA. All rights reserved.

After the concept of terrorism, now the new strategy of ‘safe zone’ or ‘security zone’ is shaping the colonialist state’s expansionist wishes and illegitimate international actions. We have observed over the last three decades how the concept of terrorism has worked perfectly for the nation states and almost every large and powerful nation state has benefited from this. The new strategy is expected to serve for a similar excuse.

Now any powerful or large nation state, such as the USA against Mexico, India against Kashmir, Europe against North Africa, Saudi Arabia against Yemen, Russia against Ukraine and China against Hong Kong, can follow this same path and expand their interest and authority at the expense of others, in the same way that Turkey is currently carrying out in their actions against Kurds in Syria and elsewhere. This newfound strategy of ‘safe zones’ is just a new name for old-style colonization, which continues to enable the monopolistic privilege of some ethnic or religious groups over others.

The evil of the twentieth century continues.

The twentieth century was the century of genocides. Many serious crimes against humanity took place. Turkey alone, at least twice, committed this crime; once against Armenia (1915) and then against Alevis and Kurds (1937-38). The evil of the twentieth century continues. The crime against small and weak sections of society, the colonization and occupation has not ended. Regimes of evil and their immoral reasoning, methods, rule of government and administration just take different shapes.

Because a few ill-informed politicians, activists or ‘social scientists’ are talking about ‘post-colonization’ does not mean that we have even reached the middle of colonization. Many social scientists who work on this subject almost always confine themselves to western colonization and imperialism, but blindly ignore and rarely mention local predators, who have been more destructive than many western practices.

Local colonizers have just taken much cleverer, more disguised names and forms. Ottoman colonization and acts of slavery have spread and affected many different minorities in three different continents. Turkey inherited this style. They occupied Kurdish land and population for over a century as well as half of Cyprus in 1974, under the name ‘peace operation’ and ‘Turkishness’. They have ruled ever since and nobody dares to take Turkey out of that place. Northern Cyprus has become the haven of the black economy for Turkey. Like Turkey, many other parasitic states also, whose survival and wealth rely and thrive only on grabbing another’s resources and the taking of their lives, have continued to colonize. The journey and cycle of colonization and invasion persists, as long as the wealth of a specific group comes at the expense of the wealth and death of another.

Turkey, ISIS and the Kurds

Between 2011 – 2016, Turkey helped ISIS and other jihadist groups directly in its actions against Kurds, and bought cheap petrol from them in exchange for military equipment. Kurdish civilians in Afrin, again under the name of ‘Olive Branch Operation’, were killed and their wealth looted in the beginning of 2018. It was not just that Kurds were disabled physically and economically, their land was destroyed. Millions of olive trees were cut down and sold for the benefit of Turkey, the rich fertile farmland turned into almost desert.

That means colonization doesn’t just destroy human life but the natural habitat as well. Once the colonizer tastes the benefits while the world continues to stand by, watch and let it happen, then the action of destruction becomes habit and the habit normalized. The problem with colonization is that it creates lazy, parasitic nations and full dependency on their hosts. It has to continue in order to sustain the colonizers nation.

Once the colonizer tastes the benefits while the world continues to stand by, watch and let it happen, then the action of destruction becomes habit and the habit normalized.

Just a year later, around two weeks ago, Turkey wanted to expand their border at the expense of the Kurds again, to activate the paralyzing of their economy and provoke its people’s emotions. It chose another very ‘peaceful’ name for its occupation, ‘Peace Spring’. This one too, like previous ‘peaceful’ actions, only brought death, blood and misery for Kurds and created again a temporary boost for the Turkish economy and its people, like a kleptomaniac’s behavior, unable to resist the urge to steal from others. Hundreds of innocent people died, and hundreds of thousands have lost their homes, but these numbers have brought only celebrations for the majority of the Turkish public. In addition to all these, more than fifty thousand Kurdish people have lost their lives since 1984, and millions have had to leave their land because of these so called ‘peace operations’ and the concept of the nation state’s security.

As with the old type of colonization, the old type of mercenary also continues. Turkey has used Kurdish village guards against Kurds in Turkey for decades. Since the Syrian war started, Turkey has trained and armed former Al Qaida and ISIS members, Salafists, bounty and booty hunters, looters, all types of jihadist mercenaries. Most of these were selected from Syrian refugees who were forced to join by the Turkish state, for its own current colonization actions in the Kurdish land, against Kurdish people.

It is not even a secret, Turkish state authorities are doing this very openly, in front of the rest of the world. Now Syrians are killing other Syrians for Turkey as some Kurdish village guards did for a long time. This is also not a new invention. The Ottomans created ruthless armed forces, Janissaries, from different minority groups, especially kidnapped or pressganged Christian boys. The families of these kidnappers were killed, their land occupied, their young sons forced to convert to Islam and their young daughters forced to be part of Ottoman Sultanates or the harems of some general. After long military training these boys turned into ruthless killers and were sent out as guardians of Ottoman borders and to destroy their own kin whenever necessary, for the state. The trained and armed so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’ or newly designated ‘Syrian National Army’ do not differ much from these Janissaries. They too are sent to kill their local neighbors, and kinship networks in the name of Jihad. But actually, that Jihad serves no one well apart from Turkey. Erdogan tweeted in Arabic during the latest operation against Kurds, “I kiss the foreheads of all the hero members of the Muhammadian army” who were entering Syria, and invading Kurdish land.

Division and conquest

Powerful states do not usually use their own people and resources for the wars against others. The British used Indians against Indians, Arabs against Arabs, South Africans against South Africans; France did similar things in North Africa; Spain and Portugal with the same tactic created empires and ruled vast lands and stole the resources of others. A similar method continues today. Saudis use Yemenis against Yemeni for its benefit. Iran follows a similar approach on the other side, making some Yeminis killing machines against other Yemenis, again for its own benefit. Afghanis have been killing Afghanis first for Russia in 1980s, and in recent decades for the USA.

Libyans are slaughtering Libyans for others. Irish people were divided and killed each other for hundred years, for Britain’s gain. Even today, they are politically fighting with each other for the benefit of England during the Brexit saga. Turkey first used ISIS against Kurds. After ISIS was defeated by the Kurds, then Turkey changed the uniforms of the leftover ISIS members, mixed them up with some other Syrian and Turkish killers, renamed them the ‘National Syrian Army’, and reused them against the Kurds.

Irish people were divided and killed each other for a hundred years, for Britain’s gain. Even today, they are politically fighting with each other for the benefit of England during the Brexit saga.

In the animal world, small animals are just a meal for a big or powerful animal. Animals of course also invade: another notorious parasite, the cuckoo bird, takes over the nest of its host by laying identical-looking eggs, who when hatched proceed to kill all the hosts chicks. This covert subtle mimicry is not as faceless an invasion as that presided over by tyrannies. But this is not so different in the human world. It does not just happen between states, it also happens within a state, between different institutions or even individuals. Many in his or her own corner can be brutal and act over others like colonizers. This has not just been the problem of far right, fundamentalist religious people and their divisive and destructive politics in the modern world, but many lefties and socialists have also constituted themselves as an army of tyrants, as we know from the cases of Stalinism and Maoism. All these have committed unforgettable crimes, genocides, and like both Nazis and Saddamists, they have all also claimed to be ‘socialist’ at some level.

Intellectual travesty

Many so-called leftist groups, Turkish ‘intellectuals’, ‘journalists’, and academics who have made their career out of the Kurdish issue in Turkey and outside Turkey, have been supporting Erdogan’s invasion into Kurdish land in Syria and the destruction of Kurdish cities and towns in Turkey.

Conflict is the time when you see how people’s masks slip, how the power of the regime in charge distorts the truth, and when you can recognize who the real intellectuals are. This travesty of knowledge and false evidence becomes more important than factual, original and critical knowledge during such a time. Instead of being ashamed of what is going on in their country at the hands of the oppressive regime, some so-called ‘intellectuals’ don’t even mind finding some justification for the tyrant’s false claims and evil actions. They act and think like a state, for the state.

As Nietzsche rightly argued, the will to truth requires a capacity for critique.

Antonio De Lauri described in his article on ‘Bourgeois Knowledge’ how they take the shape of state bureaucrats. During the most chaotic times their silence is also support for the brutal side. ‘Intellectual’ should not be used for someone who takes the side of the tyrants, who don’t feel ashamed of their governments’ depredations against others. For example, when the Turkish Nobel Laureate Aziz Sancar showed several times his love and support for Erdogan, not many international media outlets criticized his action or were surprised by his support. But holding such a title and taking the side of dictators creates a bad example for future generations.

Sancar is not alone. This has happened in the past and continues at the present time. Many well-known academics and so called ‘intellectuals’ have supported Erdogan – that is, until they get a position outside Turkey where some of them may start making some mild criticism of the autocratic Turkish regime as a way of playing at being ‘democrats’ and opening a way for themselves to join the ranks of western ‘intellectuals’.

To be intellectual is to take a risk, to be critical and to fight for the value of truth, even if you have to face hard criticism, and lose position and prospects against tyrants and their mobs. This alone will make a life worth living. As Nietzsche rightly argued, the will to truth requires a capacity for critique. The only alternative is a meaningless, empty life for intellectuals, while their actions have a tremendously damaging impact on the life of others. This is what happens when they restructure the truth in the interest of evil.

What about ‘safe zones’?

Kurdish groups have been controlling their land in Syria since the conflict in Syria started. They created an autonomy which gives equal space to different ethnic and religious minorities. It works for gender equality, by creating a co-chair leadership, one man and one woman, and these are implemented and practiced in almost all their institutions.

They have created an alternative code of justice which serves all their people, unlike a corrupted state justice system which serves only the few rich who can hire expensive lawyers to help them emerge innocent from court, when they were in fact guilty. Probably the only crime Syrian Kurds have committed is that for the first time they have freely educated their children in their mother tongue, spoken their Kurdish language freely on their streets, and taught their children their own history, not the state’s concocted history. They have also followed Murray Bookchin’s philosophy, and developed some policies and practices which focus on the ecological aspects of life, not just on uncontrollable capitalism.

This has created a real threat both to the Turkish state and for Erdogan. While 20 million Kurds in Turkey are perfectly silenced, oppressed and not recognized at all by any legal means, how dare Kurds somewhere close by learn and speak their language freely and create alternative governmentality? This could be a very bad example for the oppressed Kurds in Turkey. By contrast, the Turkish state has annihilated thousands of Kurds, imprisoned tens of thousands of Kurdish politicians, activists, academics and erased any and every dissident voice. The Turkish nation punishes without let or hindrance any Kurds who dare to speak their own language on the street or even at the hospital. It follows that other Kurds who don’t live within the border of Turkey should also be punished and follow Turkish state’ codes.

‘Peace Spring’ targets in northern Syria, October 11, 2019.
‘Peace Spring’ targets in northern Syria, October 11, 2019. | DHA/PA. All rights reserved.

That is the reason we are observing ‘safe zone’ brutalism and ethnic cleansing, but nobody asks why.

That is the reason we are observing ‘safe zone’ brutalism and ethnic cleansing, but nobody asks why. If you have a problem with Kurds, then why not create a safe zone within your land and erect a huge wall? Nobody asks and no-one will stop you doing that. Nobody dares to question aggressive and destructive nations and their leaders.

Syrian Kurds and the betrayal of the Kurds

Kurds in Syria had to fight and lose tens of thousands of lives against ISIS brutalism to create this ‘safety net’ and alternative politics for their deprived people. They were the ones who started resisting against the Assad regime before any other opposition appeared in Syria. They were, and still are, in the worst condition compared to the rest of the 40 million Kurds in the Middle East who are divided between Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of Kurds in Syria did not even have any citizenship until 2011, when Syria blew up. It was taken away in 1961 by the Syrian regime and they could not have a passport, buy a house or even have an official marriage ceremony. The international community and international law has bypassed any opportunity to address Kurdish statelessness in Syria and their deprived citizenship elsewhere.

Syrian Kurds are very close relatives of Kurds from Turkey. Some Syrian Kurds had to escape to Syria when the Ottoman’s evil pashas were carrying out genocidal crimes against Armenians in 1915, and when successive Turkish governments were repeating similar actions against Alevis and Kurds in 1937-38.

Kurds are indigenous people of the Middle East. They have been dwelling on this land for thousands of years, long before Turks, Syrians, Iraqis or Iranians appeared. The brutal actions against Kurds or betrayal of Kurds did not just start recently. It has been happening for more than a century and almost every western power has managed to betray Kurds at least once since the late nineteenth century.

Almost every western power has managed to betray Kurds at least once since the late nineteenth century.

This became obvious with the end of WWI and continues until the present day. During the brutality of WWI, ‘for the peace of the world’ the American President Wilson established fourteen conditions at the beginning of 1918 which included absolute freedom, democracy and self-determination for national minorities, including Kurds. He also promised that the world power was going to protect the political independence and territorial integrity of small states and minorities. His 12th condition was specifically about the Ottoman Empire, Turks and Kurds. It was stated: “The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development.”

Following these conditions, western powers promised an independent Kurdistan in 1920. However, soon afterwards in 1923, the Kurds were sold out by Lord Curzon of England, and French, Italian, American and Russian delegates, during the Lausanne Agreement with Turkey, in return for the petrol of Kirkuk and Mosul. Turkish diplomats threatened western powers and claimed that they would adopt Lenin’s Bolshevik ideology if they didn’t accept Turkey’s wishes and get rid of the ideology of any Kurdish rights or state. They were successful like they are today. So you can see for yourself, nothing has changed since then.

Later, the Soviet Block made another promise to Iranian Kurds for the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad in 1946, but left them without any protection to be crushed by the Iranian regime a year later. In the 1970s, Iran promised Iraqi Kurds support of independence, but again abandoned them and opened the way for thousands of Kurds to be killed by the Iraqi regime. Saddam continued his crime against Kurds and in 1988 used western-made chemical weapons against them, killing thousands more Kurds in Halabja in March 1988.

A few years later, in 1991, the USA asked for Kurdish help in its war against Saddam and got what they asked for. A short time after, George W. Bush left Kurds at the mercy of Saddam and again they had to pay a further heavy price. Only after 2003 did the Iraqi Kurds procure some level of autonomy, which has been under attack from the Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish states ever since.

Only after 2003 did the Iraqi Kurds procure some level of autonomy, which has been under attack from the Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish states ever since.

Securing oil and resources has always come before ethnic minorities and the right to life. It would be difficult to find any other similar ethnic groups who have faced as much continuous and repeated injustices as the Kurds very openly have endured, almost year on year. Kurds have lived under political and economic fear and insecurity for a century. They don’t have an equal basic right to life, which goes against the fundamental premise of the French Revolution (1789), the Genocide Convention (1948) and the Helsinki Declaration (1975).

People facilitate evil

When a country or government does not have any critical voices around them anymore, successfully eliminating a whole variety of critics and melding the whole of society under the regime’s single umbrella of nationalism or religious fundamentalism, this creates a new evil in the shape of a scorpion type of suicidal action, beginning with weak minorities, then spreading to the state itself and its own population.

If any strong public opposition had arisen before the genocide took place in Eastern and Southern Turkey, Auschwitz, Halabja, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Cambodian Killing Fields, Tamil Land, Sinjar Mountain, then we would not have had to talk about all these serious crimes against humanity, and we would not call the twentieth and also twenty first century the centuries of genocides.

The publics are the creators of these dangerous tyrannies, even though some studies argue the opposite. Social science has also failed to deal with the problem of the corrupted public which is directly or indirectly responsible for giving power to tyrannies. Most of them are the beneficiary of actions which take place against innocent people. Instead of being a ‘rescuer’, as discussed in Robert Meister’s book, After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights, they prefer to take the side of the perpetrators and be one of the beneficiaries of those crimes.

The benefit does not always take a materialist form, but to be a member brings with it the artificial self-importance of being involved in a crime that claims to benefit them and their future generations. To not stand against morally damaging actions can simply afford an opportunity for another tyrant to seize power. The increase and repetition of evil, is like a snowball effect. If it is not challenged and then stopped, it paves the way for the future power of empire. As Hannah Arendt discussed in a very detailed way in her several works, but especially in Eichmann in Jerusalem. A report on the banality of evil – we lack a common measurement that can embrace both gigantic evil and the sheer banality of people who have chosen to take the side of evil. Yet they commit these crimes together. Most common people who support tyrants are ready to do anything for him or her just to be part of that regime, and to become a beneficiary of the regime’s crimes.

The level of societal racism in Turkey may have made it one of the most racist countries in the world, but this has been exacerbated and ramped up to its highest level only in recent years. People, even so-called educated people who hold a doctoral degree from one of the western universities, now attack you with the aim of preventing any criticism of these evil regimes. This is because he or she directly benefits from the regime, probably receiving a scholarship to study from them in the first place with the further promise of grabbing a government position with the help of similar nepotist relations. Antonio De Lauri discussed the case of Italy, which has many similarities with Turkey, where the nature of education is such, especially the academic system, that it has become “nepotistic and exclusivist.”

However, this is not only a present day phenomenon, but it has taken many past, repetitive actions to feed into creating this situation. The state and its education system, based on a strong and destructive nationalism and religious fundamentalism, have paved the way for Erdogan-type leaders and people corrupted by nepotism to occupy powerful positions.

Criminal publics

Public support is the main driver of Erdogan’s sovereignty and his governmental style, which has created such a huge threat to stability and peace in the Middle East and the world. There is hardly any group or publicly known individual left in Turkey who can openly be critical about what is going on. Even unknown individuals who send a critical tweet or Facebook message are being arrested and tortured by state forces if they are not discovered and often punished by their neighbours first.

The media is not just silent, but it is gleefully engaging in the war, celebrating the government’s crimes with unqualified lack of restraint. There is hardly any opposition view or discussion. The stories of failed ‘heroes’ are covering the whole media either in the form of news or as part of hours-long Turkish soap operas. The only knowledge of these events many Turkish people have is based on this very simplistic, emotive, brain washing. Many people spend many hours of every single day watching these nationalistic, racist and bloodthirsty soap operas, their sole reference point.

There is hardly any resistance from the Turkish public in general. Passively and actively, as Foucault argued in his Lectures at the College de France, people have been sucked into and actively take sides with the sovereign power. Any small resistance from a few liberal voices, protest from a small group of academics and especially criticism from Kurdish political representatives, have been immediately snuffed out with imprisonment, unemployment, restriction of any life prospect, including working and travelling.

Meanwhile, almost all NGO's, civil and government institutions, business people, art gallery curators, and tens of thousands of Turkish academics, almost all Turkish political parties, including the main opposition ones, have lined up behind Erdogan to become embedded in this very regime of crime.

There is hardly any group or publicly known individual left in Turkey who can openly be critical about what is going on.

As long as these publics are not made accountable for the crimes which are ordered and committed by their leaders and past generations; if corruption and nepotism are not included in the crimes against humanity; if the public is not educated with humanistic values, which make them ashamed of the crimes carried out by their societies past and present; if criminal societies are not forced to pay heavy compensation – then we will continue to face similar crimes in the future as have happened in the past and are happening in the present.

For example, there has not been a single apology, acknowledgement or paid compensation for the crimes committed by Ottoman (Turks) against Armenia, France against Algeria, Britain against Kenyans, Americans against Vietnamese, and Turks against Kurds, even though there has been a massive amount of irrefutable evidence that they committed crimes against humanity and killed huge numbers of civilians. The Turkish public is proud of every Ottoman and Turkish government action against others, which opens a way for similar actions to be repeated ad perpetuam.

We need to acknowledge the truth that the role of the public in Turkey today is not unique. It is an example from just one of the autocratic regimes. If we do not recognize and acknowledge the past actions of evil, if we forget or forgive them then we empower the present ones and open a way for future disasters.

To learn of past evil is actually more important than to learn about war victories. The truth is, no wars bring victories, only disaster. The only war which might be necessary is the war which prevents evil and which may bring some level of victory to humankind. Yet there was much domestic and international silence against Hitler’s rise to power before it was too late. Milosevic slaughtered almost a million Bosnians before the world acted. Saddam carried out his many crimes, including a clear genocide against the Kurds, in front of the community of the world and with the support of his large public. It was already too late to stop these dictators’ actions.

Responsibility to protect, and right to intervene

Some of the worst tyrants started their political career by claiming to end colonization, slavery, discrimination, economic and social inequality and create an equal and fair society for all. Later, when they discover that to deliver all these promises requires heavy duty work and big risks which may not guarantee a long term in office, they seek and find an easier way where it would be possible to not keep any promises – to give nothing back to people but take everything from them, whatever they have, with the help of cheap and empty nationalism and religious fundamentalism. They have asked people to die for their political aims if they want to be rich, and millions have followed these leaders, and died for them. Meanwhile, they have increased their own wealth and created an elite circle, leaving millions of others in poverty. Millions were kept close to them while this took place, with the help of a party patronage system, and lump sum handouts which create a strong specific party and ideology dependency.

They have asked people to die for their political aims if they want to be rich, and millions have followed these leaders, and died for them.

Erdogan’s Turkey has reached the point where it needs to be stopped before it becomes too late to rescue. Every human has a responsibility to protect others even if those others live 15,000 kilometers away from you. The world community, countries with power, should take action and intervene when there is a possibility to prevent evil. If you have capability and resources but have failed to act, then you become one of the silent supporters of that perpetrator’s actions, as the world was responsible for Hitler’s action in the 1940s, and not just the German people. Robert Meister reminds us in his work on After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights that “past evil cannot be repeated unless it is forgotten – and what happens next will necessarily be different if, but only if, it reminds us that we have turned away from the past.”

One may ask which one should be stopped first when everywhere we turn is so full of these dangerous autocratic leaders and their publics, from North Korea to Hungary, Brazil to the Philippines, Iran to Syria. However, these autocratic regimes, their tactics and destructive politics are not for ever. These imperialist wishes, invasions and occupations, from the examples we already know, hurt themselves in the end, from the Ottoman cases of the Enver, Talat and Cemal Pashas, from Nazi Germany, Ceausescu’s Romania, Milosevic’ Serbia and Saddam’s Iraq.

The human condition has not changed very much because individuals have pursued similar simplistic life choices. Religion and nationalism, hand in hand, occupy the soul and mind of large parts of these societies. These workers, the poor and middle-class people desperately want to hear some hope, but not face reality. Then there are the rich who are greedy and so happy to follow any dogma that brings more wealth for them. When authoritarian leaders are accorded a ‘godlike’ level of unaccountable authority, power and impunity, it won’t take long for these followers who are ready to join in the destruction of the lives of others for their own happiness, to become a suit of armour around some very skilful liars.

It doesn’t matter how empty these hopes and lies are, people don’t care to think much about it. The moment they may recognize the truth could be the moment they have to sacrifice their loved ones, brothers, sisters, daughters, when it has already become too late. Even then, many will still not face reality, and try to find some justification to blame everybody, but not the actual populist tyrants and especially not themselves, who put them in that situation.

Flags

With the increase of nationalism, populist liars don’t even need churches or mosques any more, which put in the time to convince people, getting them to read religious textbooks. Now, you don’t need to read books. Just look at the flags around you. You cannot escape them, and they recruit you as a strong member of the masses without very much effort at all, in metro stations, not just important boulevards, almost at every corner of every road, street, houses, apartments, every TV screen and anchorperson’s shoulder, any sport activity or celebration, even any everyday soap opera. You will see them across the sky, on the sea, behind the bus you are following, on the ambulance that comes to your rescue, in the shop, in the barbers. You will see similar coloured flags everywhere, pushing you into that corner. Even the church and mosque did not have that power.

These simple textiles are now more powerful than any godly book. If you manhandle them, you can be killed, and people will celebrate your death and congratulate the person who killed you. This new power has become more powerful than promising more and better bread, butter, electricity, technology, science, ecology, or a new and long life.

This new power has become more powerful than promising more and better bread, butter, electricity, technology, science, ecology, or a new and long life.

Nazi, apartheid regimes and ISIS arbitrarily outlaw any individual or group in order to create inequality. In these types of regimes there has been a controlling group and some critical voices, independent people who have been isolated and forced out as we see happening in Turkey today. Dictators don’t compete with anyone: the law is what they decide. And this becomes the order of the day for the militant followers. This is the premise and attitude for many of the heads of state whose emergence we are witnessing in the 21st century. When the injustice reaches a certain level, the people who question this are seen as ‘traitors’, and are usually imprisoned, forced out or killed.

Who is the ‘democrat’, and who is ‘terrorist’?

It is hard to think and write all these things, but the truth must be stated if humanity and nature are to claw themselves back from the brink. It is almost impossible to have equal rights and space for all people under the many current nation state regimes and practices, in every continent. However, the majority of these societies and their destructive politicians call themselves ‘democrats’ and describe others as ‘terrorists’. How can this be possible?

Kurds never attack any civilians or residential areas directly in Turkey. They have been fighting ISIS and similar types of terrorist groups, losing thousands of their own members. The towns, streets and many residential Kurdish areas are under attack by the state’s heavy artillery, and people are indiscriminately being killed including babies and the elderly. So how can Kurds be called terrorists and these others called peacekeepers or democrats?

A former Turkish politician, breaking the silence on the truth and reality of the situation, recently criticised American president Donald Trump for comparing Kurdish groups with ISIS and claiming both to be as dangerous as each other. Tuna Beklevic wrote to the Washington Post to explain:

“I am a Turk from Edirne. I have dedicated my life to my country’s politics. For several years, I served in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government... Erdogan is consolidating power through violence and repression, at the expense of everyday people… Trump says the PKK is worse than ISIS. I say he’s wrong…. I am Turkish. I am a former government official. And I believe that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK described by President Trump as worse than the Islamic State – is not a terrorist organization.”

This former government official is right. The Kurds and the PKK cannot be compared with ISIS, Al Qaeda or any other similar terrorist groups. They have not attacked or used terror or any direct violence against civilians to gain political and economic power. The term used after 9/11 by George W. Bush ‘war on terror’ does not include or refer to Kurdish groups’ resistance for their basic rights. However, Turkey and many other countries have borrowed Bush’s concept, and have been using and misusing this for almost all their actions against Kurdish and similar weak minority groups who don’t ask for more than just equal rights.

Police in Berlin confront Kurdish demonstration against the Turkish military offensive, October 19, 2019.
Police in Berlin confront Kurdish demonstration against the Turkish military offensive, October 19, 2019. | Paul Zinken/PA. All rights reserved.

Kurds should stop trusting others more than they trust themselves.

Of course, Kurds should also be blamed about the conditions they find themselves in, the repeating tragedy that they encounter. First, Kurds have not created a strong unity among themselves. All Kurds should support their cause and come together, instead of creating many different small powerless groups where each one makes an agreement with different enemies and all are used against each other.

Second, Kurds don’t have a leadership that brings all Kurds together to seek a welcome by the international community. Third, they have not managed to explain to the world their cause, even their most basic political suffering, such as not being able to speak and learn their own language freely, or not having citizenship in some places. Fourth, they have not created skillful diplomats who can cultivate a counterbalancing international diplomacy among reliable allies. To burn tyres on western streets or break windows does not help the Kurdish cause. It only fuels the Turkish state and its autocrat leaders.

The embassies of the Turkish state around the world manage to send a few provocateurs to any Kurdish demonstration in western countries especially, deflecting the direction and the news of that demonstration to show that ‘Kurds’ are angry streetfighters and troublemakers. So far, they have been very successful. I have observed countless examples during field research in Germany, the UK, and recently in New York. For example, a few young Turkish ultra-nationalists were sent to the recent Kurdish demonstration on Union Square in New York (October 12, 2019). But I was happy to see that some Kurdish people are learning and not reacting to this kind of provocation. Nevertheless all it took was a few anarchists who almost gave the Turkish embassy what they were asking for.

And finally, and possibly most importantly – the Kurds should stop trusting others more than they trust themselves.

Dead regimes

Not many will feel strong enough to support you if you are not a soldier of tyrannies and don’t take part in their invasions. However, we should know that most of the regimes I have referred to are dead and gone regimes, destroyed by people who believed in humanity and equality.

History has shown us that if you refuse to be a slave of such systems then you will fight to the end for justice, truth, equality and democracy and create institutions and societies based on equal values, as we saw after the defeat of the Nazi, apartheid, Milosevic and Saddam regimes. Some parliamentarians even asked for Mandela to be hanged in Trafalgar Square, as former British Former Prime Minister David Cameron admitted, but the same people eventually erected his statue in the same square, describing him as a ‘hero’ rather than a ‘terrorist’.

Aggressive nations and their leaders prepare their own death-knell in the end. ‘Rich’ and ‘strong’ Saudis believed that the ‘poor’ Yemenis would be such an easy target for them. They have been fighting for years now with the help of all their ‘rich’ friends. However, now they are losing badly and trying to get out, but they can’t. These wars have many unexpected results. ‘Strong’ America started the war against the ‘poor’ Afghanis but now tries to have a peace deal with the Taliban and they too are not able to get a deal. Turkey will suffer in Syria and will one day regret the fact that they started this. One can start a war with a celebration, but this does not ensure that the outcome will be what the celebrants bargained for.

Nusaybin, a Kurdish city destroyed by Turkish military forces in 2015-2016.
Nusaybin, a Kurdish city destroyed by Turkish military forces in 2015-2016. | Artist: Zehra Dogan . All rights reserved.

Expose the ‘dark money’ bankrolling our politics

US Christian ‘fundamentalists’, some linked to Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, have poured at least $50m of ‘dark money’ into Europe over the past decade – boosting the far right.

That's just the tip of the iceberg: we've got many more leads to chase down. Find out more and support our work here.

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