The PKK As The Problem Of Kurds – OpEd


By Ihsan Bal

With the increasing acts of the PKK, it seems like some intellectuals who have a habit of discussing the Kurdish problem with a mental conformity have started to recognize the new dimension the problem has evolved into. The number of people who analyze the PKK as a result of the Kurdish problem and experienced deprivations has started to diminish. It is because we are undergoing a phase in which the PKK itself has been transforming into a disease. In other words, the PKK is not an actor in solving the Kurdish problem anymore, but it has been evolving into a structure which feeds on problems and indiscriminative violence.

That is why it disturbs Kurds a great deal that the PKK has returned to using indiscriminative violence like it used to in its first phase, in an era where Turkey is becoming more democratized. Even though they cannot raise their voice much against an organized and armed force, it is notable that there is silent tension within.

An important indicator of this reaction can be shown as the September 12 constitutional referendum process, the slogan of which was “a more democratic Turkey.” We did witness that the Kurds voted ‘yes’ in a bigger ratio than Turks, despite the threats of the KCK and the political campaigns of the BDP.

Approximately one year later (Fall 2011), the Kurdish national movement and the accompanying violence are preparing the Kurds for a new test. Namely, whether or not the chosen parliament members will take their part… This test seems to be tougher. While the public desires that the MPs they chose take part in the parliament, the PKK and KCK want the political arena to be completely null and void. All they calculate is how to increase their areas for manoeuver and the possibility of being addressees. While one of the BDP MPs and the former president of KADEP Serafettin Elci say that they are going to be in the parliament on October 1 since it is what the public wants, the KCK declares that going to the parliament would be a betrayal of the Kurdish public and would serve the enemy’s interests. These two different statements clearly show the shatters in the secret fault lines.

Shattering Fault Lines in the Kurdish Problem

This shows that there is a clear break-up in the relations between the PKK, Kurds, and the Kurdish problem. On one hand, there are Kurds who want to take their share of the developing wealth in Turkey and desire to see the MPs they chose in the parliament so that they can get a bigger share of the increasing democratic standards. On the other hand, there is the organization in line with violence, which wants to collect prosperity from the existence of the problems.

The difference of opinion is growing every passing day. This growing difference, without a doubt, has structural and mental reasons for it. While an important part of the public believes that they would gain more through democratic channels, the PKK claims that the problem will be solved by the imposition of violence. The difference is so strong that the belief that the PKK does not contribute to the solving of problems but pursues other agendas instead gains more and more followers among the Kurds.

Kemal Burkay and Orhan Miroglu are prominent names who advocate this belief. It is very likely that Kemal Burkay, who points out that there is no way to move forward with violence and that the PKK has become a part of the problem instead of the solution, will excite large crowds. As will the words of Miroglu, which state that killing more police and soldiers is not the way to gain either collective rights or democratic autonomy or independence. These statements contain very significant determination with respect to showing where the faction happens to stand on the Kurdish problem.

The Self-Destruction of the PKK

The PKK, which claims that through its acts the Kurdish problem has become discussion material, has started to be criticized after each of its acts. This has some basic reasons: First, it can be seen that the Kurdish citizens in Turkey have more social, economic, and cultural gains compared to the Kurds who live in other countries. This means that Turkey is one of the leading countries where the Kurdish problem can be solved through non-violent means.

Another reason is that Turkish intellectuals have come a long way in using a more positive language concerning the Kurds’ freedoms and rights—so much so that we are undergoing a process of self-criticism where Turkish intellectuals are severely criticizing what has happened to the Kurds in previous years.

The third reason is that tens of positive regulations have been instituted concerning the democratization trend between the years of 2002 and 2006, when the violence was relatively low.

When all of these are taken into consideration, what concerns the Kurds most are the PKK’s inciting of endless conflict through the increase in violence, triggering disintegration, and losing what was already gained.

The PKK: The New JITEM of the Kurds

The PKK should have sensed this concern, since it has returned to using force by referring to its thoughts of the 1980s, which maintained that the Kurds cannot get used to the rebellion and they are hopeless in this cause. However, one needs to see that the Kurds are very bored with approaches which consider them a flock that needs to be shepherded. And that is precisely what the PKK does today.

Today’s Kurds are very much different from the Kurds of the ‘80s. The Kurds have become factionalized from the PKK-KCK line precisely because of this approach they hate the most: dictating to them what they think and how they act—the reckless impositions of boycotting, not voting, molotoving, etc.

It has become more apparent that the Kurdish nationalist discourse, which begins with the words “the Kurdish people who are honorable, dignified, and freedom-loving” is keen on creating a society of fear or murdering in cold blood. The ones who think they can rule the process with only propaganda are mistaken in a Turkey where the media is diverse and nothing stays in the dark.

It is not possible that this organization can explain how they will contribute to solving the Kurdish problem with violent attacks, which they denied being responsible for at first and then had to claim responsibility, in Ankara, Kumrular, or in Siirt where four women died. The diversity in the Kurdish political movement seems to make both the PKK and the ones taking part in its methods an important problem of the Kurds as well.

Another known reality is that instead of the past security understanding, today’s soft power, which is based upon the rule of law, is not leaving any area vulnerable to abuse by the PKK.

I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that we are going into an era where the ones who are a part of the solution instead of the problem will be the ones who gain the most. It is an era where the Kurdish civil policy rises against the suzerainty of the violent Kurdist organization.

Ihsan Bal
Head of USAK Science Committee


JTW - the Journal of Turkish Weekly - is a respected Turkish news source in English language on international politics. Established in 2004, JTW is published by Ankara-based Turkish think tank International Strategic Research Organization (USAK).

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