By Hambersom Aghbashian
(B.Sc. Elect. Eng.)
After participating for years in the global plans to destroy the region and making billions of dollars by illegal means, Erdogan is fighting to keep his positions in northern Syria, i.e. In the Kurdish areas. He is fighting the Kurds accusing them of being terrorists and trying to disarm and defeat them, while Turkey’s NATO ally, USA, considers the Kurds the biggest partners in fighting Da’ash (ISIS) in the region. On the other hand, Turkey ended up making concessions to Russia, its historical enemy, on the Syrian file to put an end to the crisis after the opponents of the Syrian government were confined to Idlib.
Why Erdogan is doing all this? what is the price for that? And what Turkey eventually will gain? The answer is not a secret to those who are following the developments in Turkey and its neighboring countries. The price is to put an end to the Kurdish national liberation movement in Turkey.
After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI , a Kurdish region was mapped by US president Woodrow Wilson according to Treaty of Sèvres in 1920 with Kurdish territories mainly in Turkey, South of historical Armenia which was decided to be part of post war Armenia, but it never happened as Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923 and nullified Sèvres. Consequently, Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, subjected all Kurdish territories in Turkey to his authority. The Kurds fought for their identity and national recognition
Establishing the Republic of Turkey in 1923, limited the civil rights of the Kurds in Turkey. Kemal Ataturk considered every citizen living in the Turkish Republic a (Turk), he called the Kurds the (Mountainous Turks), and adopted a policy of chauvinism towards the Kurds, No Kurdish language in schools, No Kurdish newspapers , No formation of Kurdish political parties. Speaking Kurdish in public places was considered a criminal act for several decades. Kurdistan was never mentioned in Turkish politics and still it is not. The Kurds have been deprived of all their national rights.
The Red Sultan Abdul Hamid II, formed an auxiliary force called the “Hamidiye Alaylari” (Hamidiye Brigades) in 1890 . Tribal Kurds in East and South East of Turkey were recruited and organized into that force and they were mainly cavalries. During the 1915 Armenian Genocide, the Hamidiye Kurd cavalries , who changed their loyalty from Abdul Hamid to the new ruling Trio pashas (Talat, Enver and Jamal) , with the Kurdish tribes, attacked the Armenians and played a big role in massacring them , taking over their belongings, houses and lands. Not all Kurds participated in the genocide, but most of them benefited.
Now it was their term to face their fate. The Kurds revolted against the measures of Ataturk. The revolution of Sheikh Said Biran in 1925 against the policy of Turkification was the first of its kind. The revolution did not succeed and Sheikh Said Biran with dozens of his followers were executed and hundreds of Kurdish villages were evacuated and burned.
After the failure of Sheikh Saeed’s revolution, General Ihsan Nuri Pasha, who was a Kurdish officer in the Ottoman army led “Agri Revolution” in the region of mount Ararat in the years (1927-1930) . That one also couldn’t stand for a long time.
In 1934, a resettlement law was issued to transfer the Kurds from Dersim (now Tunceli) to other areas to change the national fabric of the region. That was rejected by the Kurds who sparked Dersim revolution between (1937-1939) under the leadership of Sayed Reza. Ataturk’s government used brutal tactics, including the mass murder of civilians and using the Air force to quell the revolution. As a result, tens of thousands of Kurds were killed, villages burned and more than 10,000 Kurds were forcibly displaced from Dersim.
The Kurds joined the Turks in perpetrating the Armenian Genocide in 1915, and then it was their turn to suffer.
The Kurdish liberation movement did not end in Turkey by smashing Dersim’s revolution and the Kurdish problem in Turkey has not been resolved. The 1964 Political Parties Act criminalized Kurdish political parties and the acknowledgment of the existence of different languages and races in Turkey. The 1972 Law of Association further restricted rights of the associations and political organizations. The successive Turkish governments have not recognized the Kurdish problem. The continued deliberate marginalization and chauvinistic practices against the Kurds led to the emergence of a new party to continue the Kurdish liberation movement. In 1978, Abdullah Öcalan found the PKK. In 2004, PKK began the armed struggle against the government . Neither side was able to end the conflict for its favor, despite the uneven balance of power in favor of the state.
The fighting continued till 2009 when peace talks began and a ceasefire was reached. During the years of the armed liberation struggle (till 2009), more than 40,000 have been killed, mainly Kurds, more than 3,000 Kurdish villages have been destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of displaced Kurds have been relocated to western Turkey by the government. The same style and the same chauvinistic approach from Ataturk to Erdogan.
Abdullah Ocalan was obliged to leave Syria in 1998, and was kidnapped in Nairobi on February 15, 1999 by Turkish intelligence and was transferred to Turkey where he was sentenced to death then to life imprisonment in 2002. The Kurds negotiated for peace with Turkey but after many rounds of negotiations, PKK announced that the Turkish government has no solution for the Kurdish crisis. In December 31, 2012, then Turkish Prime Minister, Erdogan announced peace negotiations with Ocalan in his prison. In March 21, 2013, Ocalan ordered his followers to leave Turkish territory and they moved to Qandil mountains in Iraq, but the cease-fire ended in 2015 due to the Turkish air raids against PKK camps in northern Iraq and the developments in Syria.
Kurdish areas were not significantly affected by the Syrian conflict in the first two years. After mid 2012, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party established autonomous districts in Qamishli, Kubani and Afrin. The party stressed that it was not seeking independence but rather a “ local democratic administration”, but the continuation of the war, and the role of the Kurds in the war against the “Islamic state-ISIS “ increased the tension between Turkey and the Kurds. In July 2015, a suicide bombing carried out by ISIS caused the death of dozens of people, mostly Kurds in the city of Sorotch within the Turkish border near Ein Arab, Kubani town of Syria. The Kurds blamed the Turks for ISIS operations against them, and the Turks claimed PKK for killing two policemen in Urfa. Turkish air strikes continued under the allegation of combating terrorism, and counter-terrorism operations, but they targeted Kurdish fighters in Syria accusing them that they are linked to the PKK . Turkey currently is occupying a long Syrian border strip, mainly Kurdish regions and 300,000 Kurd were forced to leave their home. Turkey is trying to establish a buffer zone inhabited by Turkmens and pro Turkish Arabs, but no Kurds.
The People’s Democratic Party, which was founded in 2012 and represents the different ethnicities of Turkish society, managed to win 78 seats in 2015 elections and was represented in to the Turkish parliament. Erdogan couldn’t bear that ,and since then he is acting to strip them from their Parliamentary immunity. Any statement made by the Kurdish politicians are assumed against the state. Currently the former president of the People’s Democratic Party, Salah Eddin Demirtash and many other leaders are serving in prisons.
The Turkish government has attacked Kurdish areas in the southeast of the country, especially in and around Diyarbakir, and turned the Kurdish city of Sur into a ghost town.
On June 18, 2018, Asra Yalazan, a journalist, quoted a book entitled (Sur-Diyarbakir, a testimony to the barbarity of the Turkish army against the Kurds), written by Nuran Baysal , a civil society activist (issued in 2017), where she mentioned that “the undeveloped and poor districts in Sur, its hospitals, schools and markets, Its cafes, and its luxurious residential areas as well, were all destroyed by the end of 2015 and the first months of 2016, during 100 days of bombing, clashes and massacres where weapons have been used in cities against children, women and civilians. “70% of the city of Chernak, large parts of the cities of Silopi, Idel, Gera, parts of the cities of Nisibin, Uksk and Ufa were destroyed, and 1.5 million people were forcibly displaced and more than 2000 were killed”.
All Turkification attempts and the efforts to abolish the Kurdish identity didn’t work.
Turkish chauvinism and wrong policies against its own citizens , will destroy the dreams of Sultan Erdogan in establishing a new Sultanate, like they destroyed the Sultanate of Abdul Hamid II, and the Turkish government has to pay for all perpetrated crimes by successive Turkish government including the Armenian Genocide.