The President of the United States: Please stop arming Turkey, which is waging a war on freedom
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
On the night of December 28, 2011, 39 Kurds, all citizens of Turkey, came under an aerial attack by two Turkish F-16 fighter planes on the mountains of Kurdistan at an arbitrary borderline separating Turkey from Iraq. When the residents of a nearby village, Roboski, rushed to the scene of calamity, they discovered the dead bodies of 35 of their loved ones. Of these, 19 were in their teens; 27 bore the same last name. The President of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, expressed his “regrets.” The Kurdish families are asking for more: an apology as well as a thorough investigation of what really happened on that forsaken night. No one is counting on either.
As Kurds and friends of Kurds, we are writing to you to draw your attention to a statement of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which implicates your government in the death of these innocent Kurds. “Our unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),” he said, “mistook the villagers for the terrorists [of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).]” We see two problems with his statement. The UAVs that he is talking about were leased to his air force by the United States. The “terrorists” that he is referring to are the armed, uniformed, and militarily organized Kurds who have been battling the tyranny of successive Turkish governments since 1984.
Mr. President, you are fond of repeating a quote that is often attributed to Dr. King, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The same sentiment animated citizen Abraham Lincoln when he said, “When the white man governs himself,” it is called self government; but when he “governs another man, [he was referring to the black man] that is more than self-government -- that is despotism.” Jonathan Alter, your biographer, says you revere the memory of America’s 16th president and view the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House as a shrine.
To us, the Kurdish struggle for liberty is no different than the black struggle for emancipation in the United States. You may not know this, but we Kurds looked forward to your presidency as a black man. After your election to the highest office in the land, some Kurdish farmers sacrificed 44 sheep in your honor (as the 44th president of the United States). The recent history of the White House notwithstanding, these Kurdish villagers wanted to believe that you stood for freedom. Do you?
If you do, you can’t stay indifferent to the merciless assault and insult on freedom by the thugs of the Turkish government. We believe a reorientation of your policy is needed to distinguish your potential friends who are shedding their blood for freedom from your potential foes who are bent on extirpating it from the sight of the Kurds. This, we submit to you, is not just our call, but also history’s invocation to gather on its side, which was Lincoln’s side, which was King’s side and today, it has become the Kurdish side.
We remain sincerely yours,