September 1, 2010

The PKK laid down their arms: What will the Turkish government give the Kurds in response? - By Dr. Aland Mizell 

The PKK has laid down their arms and declared a unilateral ceasefire. As part of the agreement, they will not use their weapons unless the Turkish government fires on them. However, the Turkish government has said in the past that it will continue to fight with the PKK until they surrender, but the government has failed to understand that for 30 years Turkey’s powerful military could not eliminate nor bring about surrender from the PKK. I think peace bargaining is the answer for the PKK and for the Turkish government. I believe that there are Kurdish problems, and they should be ended. The killing of the innocent people must stop also. If the Turkish government now finally realizes that the Kurdish problems cannot be solved with F16 airplanes and heavy machine guns and if Ankara wants to end this problem and to have a leadership role in the Middle East as well as in the international arena, then before the Americans leave Iraq, Turkey has to act. Otherwise, terror will become a business for some external power in the region, just as in the past some countries have used the Kurdish people for their hidden agenda and for their national interest. The Turkish government should talk to the BDP, the PKK and other Kurdish groups and give them some kind of political incentive to continue their struggle in the Turkish Parliament rather than going to the mountains.  The Turkish government and leaders should not engage in sincere politics talks, but rather, for the interest of its citizen, should seriously talk and put an end to this problem. Peace negotiations are undertaken with foes not with friends. For a long time the Turkish government, the military, and the public did not want these peace negotiations. This is the time; the Turkish government should talk about Kurdish rights.

I am happy to see the PKK lay down their arms because the Kurds should continue their fights in the Parliament, not in the mountains because the Kurdish question can be solved only at open and honest diplomatic tables.  Not by killing the people but by winning them to their side to defend their cause will the issue be solved. Today, even though the Kurds are right to struggle for their basics rights, they will lose the battle in the international arena if they do not seek diplomatic ends; therefore, if the Kurds want to get the world behind them and want to end this oppression, they must not continue with arms but with political arms. They should unify and support one another by organizing outside of Turkey and by creating a large and effective lobby in the USA, in Europe, and in Asia. However, traditionally the political debates in Turkey always go in a tangential direction and lose their main purpose instead of focusing on bottom-line questions.

Today Islamic camps like the Gulenists and the AKP claim to be for democratizing Turkey, but are they actually more democratic than other factions?  Are the freedoms they are talking about the same for everybody?  Also, do Mr. Gülen and the AKP believe that democracy will come to Turkey and that, as a result, all of the Turkish problems will be washed way?  Is that true? Why should Kurds believe this government, when in the past the Turkish government and the military oppressed them and conducted illegal activities? Have they changed now? Will the new Constitution provide benefits for the Kurds or it is just that the name of the master will be changed?  What will the Kurds get in response when the PKK lays down their arms? Will a new civilian liberal and democratic Constitution create an opportunity for the solution to the suppressed Kurdish problem of oppression? How will a new Constitution define citizenship? Will it give the Kurds an opportunity to define themselves as Kurds without going to court or jail? Will the Judiciary keep harassing Kurdish politicians because they are defending the rights of their constituencies? Will the displaced Kurdish people go back to their villages and will the government pay them compensation? Will the Turkish government give the PKK members general amnesty?  Will the Turkish government and the military open their archives to western academic researchers, so that they could see their past policies toward the Kurds and educate the public about their past mistakes? Will the Turkish government decide who can do the research and what part of polices can be revealed? How will Ankara respond to this conciliatory act on the part of the PKK?

Dr. Aland Mizell is with the MCI. You may reach the author via email at:

Other articles by Dr. Aland Mizell:
A Kurdish Autonomous Region in Turkey Modeled on the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)


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