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Turkish Protests, Kurdish Indifference

By KANI XULAM 10/6/2013


For centuries, the old Ottoman Turkish Empire ruled half the world. Is it rising again?  Does the “Arab Spring” naïvely nurture the tyrannical seeds of a Kurdish winter of nightmarish despair?


The old Turkish imperialism was finally checked at the gates of Vienna in 1683.  Three hundred years later, the Poles and Austrians still celebrate the defeat of “Terrible Turk.”

On June 1, 2013, the Turkish police withdrew from Gezi Park in Istanbul—the first time that police were checked by the power of people in Turkey.  I immediately thought of Kurds, my people, and the beginning of their own liberation from Turkish tyranny.

But we seem hesitant. Although initially it was Sirri Sureyya Onder, a member of parliament with a Kurdish constituency, who stood in the way of a bulldozer—like the lone Chinese man who blocked a tank at Tiananmen Square in 1989—organized Kurds have been absent most of the time.

Do we not want to curb the power of sultan wannabe prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan?

Apparently not.

 Do we not want to curb the power of sultan wannabe prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan?  


To be sure, the authoritarian leader of the Turks, for all his glaring faults, has been the only Turkish leader who has taken some “baby” steps towards the resolution of the Kurdish Question.  On his watch, four duly elected Kurdish representatives were released from prison. But don’t raise your hopes too high—six new ones, born of June 2011 elections, have since replaced them.

As the world is finally catching up with his explosive tantrums, calling Twitter a “menace” and protesters “looters”—delighting Mubarak at Torah prison and Assad at Qasr ash-Shaab—we Kurds have been at our wits’ end to make him the “author” of at least some of our rights.

It has not been easy. In addition to his proverbial anger, the man is also highly emotional. On some days, he tells us he is going to send us all, no exceptions, to hell; on others, he reminds me of Boris Yeltsin, who told Tatars, apparently when he was not drunk, “Take all the sovereignty you can swallow.”

But the Turkish prime minister is a teetotaler. If I have to live under someone else’s clenched fist, give me Boris or Vladimir, but not Tayyip, the name means squeaky clean, but not his deeds. In Russia, minorities at least enjoy the right to education in mother tongue; in Turkey, they don’t.

When it comes to rights, no one has said it better than the emancipated slave Frederick Douglass, who might well have had Mr. Erdogan in mind when he mightily declared: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

  In Russia, minorities at least enjoy the right to education in mother tongue; in Turkey, they don’t.  


In fact, he could have added, unless it is reined in by wisdom or checked by superior force, it is the very source of evil in the world and constitutes the real menace to peace, to borrow a word from the vocabulary of prime minister himself.

Mr. Douglass would not have been surprised to hear that on the very next day that the Kurdish representative stopped the bulldozer to uproot trees, on the 560th anniversary of conquest of Istanbul, the Turkish prime minister announced the construction of a third bridge over Bosporus and christened it Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge.

Twelve million Alevis of Turkey, six million of whom are Kurds, were dumbfounded. They had good reason to be. Yavuz Sultan Selim was a brutal butcher!

He beheaded some 40,000 Alevi Kurds and Turks and conquered most of the Middle East, including Egypt, bequeathing to posterity a name branded with infamy, but won accolades from Machiavelli.

But that did not bother Erdogan, with his aspirations of resurrecting a new Ottoman Empire, and calling Palestine a national security of Turkey.

When his party won the national election, he boldly declared: “Believe me, Sarajevo won today as much as Istanbul, Beirut won as much as Izmir, Damascus won as much as Ankara, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank, Jerusalem won as much as Diyarbakir.”

Erdogan was, like Hitler did in Mein Kamp, plainly telegraphing his brazen intentions to resurrect the putrefying bones of the old Ottoman Empire.

And he wants to do it with weapons provided by the United States.

  But that did not bother Erdogan, with his aspirations of resurrecting a new Ottoman Empire, and calling Palestine a national security of Turkey. 


It is extremely interesting—and perhaps more than passing coincidence—that the last meeting American Ambassador Chris Stevens had, before he was murdered in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, was with the Turkish Counsel General Ali Sait Akin who was there to discuss shipments of weapons to Turkey for use by Syrian rebels.

Even more interesting, a mysterious Libyan-flagged ship, El Antisar (The Victor), docked five days earlier in the Turkish port of Iskenderun, barely 35 miles from the Syrian border—reportedly bristling with weapons bound for Syrian rebels, who may wind up being mere tools for Erdogan’s grand Ottoman Empire resurrection designs.

We Kurds are seriously erring in placing our hopes in this man.  He means to use us as foot soldiers of Turkish imperialism in the Middle East and maybe even Eastern Europe.  That is what the Ottomans did when they reached the gates of Vienna.  That expansionism was accompanied with a trail of tears, blood and death.  The new adventure of the Turkish prime minister promises the same.

If anything, we should remember the old adage born of the Trojan War, but with a slight twist: “Beware of Turks bearing supposed gifts.”

As Jefferson splendidly reminded us: Man does not give us liberty. God does! And we must be eternally vigilant of man’s continual and relentless efforts to take our freedom away!


omar | 10/6/2013
To day Kurdish people are not the same Kurdish people of Past and the world has been change as well, Kak KANI XULAM,you are teaching good history class about our Kurdish people I enjoy every word you saying, thank you keep the good job you doing.
K. Kyriakides | 10/6/2013
Great writing Kani Xulam. If I were a Kurd, I would sit back and wait for the opportunity to break free. Erdogan, God bless his soul, will be granting you that opportunity very very soon. All you have to worry about is which border line to choose.
Rebwar | 10/6/2013
This article was good as a literature but not as political article that analyzing the subject! In fact, the phrases and paragraphs are vague and confusing, enen the Title is unrelated with the article!!!!
Sivan | 24/6/2013
With all due respect I disagree with your argument. Your opinion seems to be fixed in 1980s and 1990s. Yes, Turkey has been very hostile to Kurds - not just Kurd in Turkey but to all Kurds since the beginning of Turkish republic. Kurds were denied their identity, language, dignity and more. Kurdish people were prosecuted, tortured and killed. Kurdistan was bedecked with checkpoints every half a mile. We all know this. I personally experienced all this short of being killed. However, adding all this substance in Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s account is not fair. The power that was killing Kurds put Erdogan in jail as well. Fast forward from 1980s and 1990s to 2003 – present, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected from a city in Kurdistan (basically by Kurds). The majority of voters in Kurdistan voted for him the first time and the last. Even today, the vast majority of Kurds will vote for him (check out statistics). It took many years to deal with illegal groups on both Turkish and Kurdish sides but he managed to inaugurate peace in Kurdistan. Despite the taboo that “Great Turkish State Does not deal with terrorists”, he managed to talk to Mr. Abdullah Ocalan. By this time it has become clear that those Turks and Kurds who were benefitting from the war in Kurdistan were not happy with the peace. Now, Turkey is experiencing riots which are mainly to stop the peace and the progress that was made in the country over last 10 years. The leftist groups have been considering themselves above the law and elite of the country. If you take a look at the history of Modern Turkey you will easily see that the riots are not about the Trees or the Park. The riot is openly calling for a coup (coupd'é tat). Because, once the peace in Kurdistan is completely implemented the illegal groups - Generals and their political allies would not have much power left to suck the resources of the country. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the only high ranked officials that acknowledged what atrocities took place in Kurdistan. The groups that was killing Kurds by putting them in Acid wells were deciphered during his administration; He publically condemned and apologized for what happened in Dersim (Tunceli) in late 1930s. These are a many highlighted development took place in Kurdistan during his time. I visit Kurdistan ever year for about two weeks. I was in North-West Kurdistan (Van, Mus, Bitlis, Agri) between May 29 – June 9, 2013. I drove from city to city visiting relatives, and just experiencing Kurdistan and the places I grow up. All the Army Check points are GONE. No one is pointing a gun at you anymore. Over the years, Kurds have consistently been on the wrong side and did not change their position. While the majority of Kurds are traditional and conservative, Kurdish parties have been on the far left. I have witnessed a Kurdish congressman (from a Kurdish Party) made fun of a group of Kurdish people simply because the group was praying. I hope Kurds become quick thinkers and see beyond the boundaries of their party. I hope Kurds become more inclusive in term of religion, life style, party affiliation and more. Some facts: - Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected from Kurdistan - first election - The vast majority of people in Kurdistan have been voting for Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Recep Tayyip Erdogan publically condemned and apologized for what happened in Dersim (Tunceli) in late 1930s - During Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration, Army check points are eliminated or minimized. - During Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration, Kurdistan has become more prosperous and free. - During Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration, the groups that were involved in killing and torturing Kurds were brought to justice. - Leyla Zana is out of jail and said that “Only Recep Tayyip Erdogan is willing and can solve Kurdish issue” - More…
Ardalan | 25/6/2013
The only difference between turkish leaders are their names, they all want to live lavishly and conquest every country that their feet step on and take all the good in it and not leaving it till they take it all and destroy it completely they are relentless and savage an army that their cruelty doesn't have any limit. They use religion as a purpose for their savageness.I believe we(Kurdish people) will never have a country as long as we wait for someone to give us one, I don't believe in Erdogan and I don't care about how much does he want to solve Kurdish problem the only way to have a country is to fight for it which what we haven't done at least for the past century. I think it doesn't matter who rules us for if it wasn't a Kurdish they'll all be the same and they'll eventually become a tyrant and this conflict will start over again.
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