Myths & Clichés in the PKK Debate / COMMENTARY

Taha Özhan – Hurriyet – The million-dollar question, is this: Will the PKK manage to make tough decisions in 2013’s Turkey, where the tutelage regime is almost completely gone? – 1. If it were not for the PKK’s armed struggle, the Kurds would have not gained their rights.

This is the most prevalent cliché in the PKK issue. However, there was a Kurdish political movement before the PKK. The leaders of this political movement before 1980 were local leaders, administrators, the syndicates and civil society organizations. The Kurdish political movement prior to the PKK appealed to a more common base. It was composed of various political parties, agendas and organizations. The PKK, before attacking the Turkish Armed Forces, launched an armed attack against these movements. In the end, the Kurdish Political movement was not able to resist for long against the PKK’s bloody attacks. As such, the PKK managed to reduce the Kurdish political movement into a single organization and began its bloody assault. The PKK armed itself, not out of necessity, but out of a conscious ideological (Marxist-Stalinist) choice. The military tutelage responded to the PKK’s armed struggle in the harshest way possible. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives. Kurds endured unspeakable torment. The PKK’s armed struggle did not only delay Kurds gaining their rights but also proved to be a great impediment to Turkey’s democratization. The military-judiciary tutelage regime used the PKK as an excuse, which cost Turkey at least 20 years in its consolidation efforts.

2. The PKK represents the Kurds and all its uprisings were in the name of Kurdish people.

Since the 1980s, the military tutelage regime had done its best to ensure that the PKK found its grounding. It stopped short of declaring war against its own people. As a result, the military tutelage became the power in Ankara. This vicious cycle, to a great extended, continued until the second term of the AK Party administration. After all that has been lived in the last three decades, the Kurdish political movement was only able to find support in approximately 10-15 percent of the population. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is still the second party for Kurds. The most preferred political party continues to be Erdoğan’s AK Party. This is to say, we are faced with a political movement that, at the end of a three-decade-long struggle, failed to convince the majority of the people it is supposed to represent. The most significant reason for this failure is nothing but the PKK’s armed and bloody tactics.

3. The PKK is working toward a resolution in the Kurdish issue

The PKK is a political movement that is severely anachronic. Having failed to update its strict 1970s-model political structure, the PKK has done what it knows best at every critical moment – it took up arms. If the PKK is still struggling to survive in its self-inflicted predicament after three decades, there is only one reason. The PKK exists only because it continues to shed blood for reasons not even the PKK itself can explain. To a great extent, the PKK sheds blood because it can. The PKK, with its nihilistic violence, particularly in the last five years, managed to impede, more than any other political actor, the most courageous initiatives in Turkey’s Republican history toward a resolution.

More clichés and myths on this issue exist. However, these clichés are not all that there is of the PKK. Clearly, the PKK could only exist because Turkey’s tutelage regime provided the platform for it to exist. The million-dollar question, then, is this: Will the PKK manage to make tough decisions in 2013’s Turkey, where the tutelage regime is almost completely gone? –